James Franco in Spring Breakers: Not Your Traditional Oscar Nominee

The unusual campaign to get him an Academy Award for one of the strangest performances of the year

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Michael Muller / A24 Films

James Franco as Alien in 'Spring Breakers'

At first, everyone thought James Franco’s campaign to be nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor in Spring Breakers was a joke. After all, he plays a rapper/gangster named Alien in the film. When’s the last time a clip of an actor sporting cornrows and a grill ran at an Oscar ceremony?

But maybe it’s time we start taking this Oscar bid seriously.

Reddit-ers got into a heated debate about the possibilities of an Oscar nomination on Wednesday. The production company A24’s digital campaign has been asking for months that voters “consider this shit” for an Oscar nom. A September print ad in the Hollywood Reporter highlighted “A full-blown method performance (with emphasis on ‘meth’),” and the A24 Twitter account has been posting more pleas for a nod as of late.

And Franco actually got positive reviews for the indie flick, which also starred Disney Channel darlings Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez and earned $31.7 million worldwide in March. TIME’s Richard Corliss wrote Franco played the insane Alien with an “intoxicating level of commitment.”

This isn’t the first non-traditional Oscar ad campaign. Melissa Leo, even though she seemed a lock for last year’s best supporting actress award, self-financed an odd, glitter-laden campaign. And some dark horse contenders have snuck into the best supporting actor category before—most recently Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder.

But Franco has a love-hate relationship with the Oscars. Though he was nominated as best actor for 127 Hours in  2011, he also bombed his co-hosting gig of the awards with Anne Hathaway that same year (a performance for which he was endlessly mocked at his Comedy Central roast).

MORE: Spring Breakers: James Franco and the Wizard of Odd