First thing is first: What are the “RETROLIGHT” Awards? That’s easy: Every month (Yes, set your watch and mark your calendars), we, the purveyors of the Matrix, will review every nerd offering in news, movies, television, comics – whatever it takes in entertainment to be seen and heard.
Maybe we’ll make a statue someday.
We will look at the month in review — or go “RETRO” — and discern why he or she has earned the award. But because the news to win the month isn’t enough, the person deserves a spotLIGHT of their career achievements. And you know we have the voices to fill those reviews.
There you have it: Our own awards. Just wait for award season, movie nerds. Bring it!
Following a collective mindmeld, we will determine who wins this ostentatious award for geeks everywhere to celebrate. To kick off our monthly retrospective, we will honor who we believe is the very best of this summer in terms of movies
Son of Hollywood legend James Brolin (The Amityville Horror, Westworld, Barbara Streisand’s husband), Josh launched his career in suitably iconic fashion with 1985’s The Goonies. Oddly enough, after his breakout teenage performance, Brolin laid low for about 20 years, starring in only TV movies and low-budget films.
And then came the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men, featuring insanely unlucky dude, Llewelyn Moss. Following his award-winning role here, Brolin’s demand and popularity skyrocketed. Now, he is an Oscar nominee, Mad Titan, and official Tommy Lee Jones impersonator (if you don’t remember Men in Black 3, that’s okay).
Without further ado, the six essential Josh Brolin performances to earn this most prestigious award for his mantle:
In True Grit, Brolin portrays the film’s major antagonist, Tom Chaney.
Chaney is cunning, manipulative, violent, and a bit cowardly. These characteristics are amplified by his appearance, best described as dirty and weathered. He plays a significant role in driving the main character Mattie Ross’ (Hailee Steinfeld) story and development as the man that gunned down Ross’s father in the beginning of the film.
After the debacle that was Jonah Hex (which coincidentally was released the same year), it would have been understandable if audiences were wary of seeing Brolin in another Western. However, in a true act of redemption, Brolin returned to the genre to give a terrific, villainous performance in True Grit.
While Chaney may seem (and look) tough on the outside, he is nothing but a coward behind his mask. It’s this aspect of Chaney that Brolin excels in, giving real depth to the performance.
After killing and robbing Mattie’s father, Chaney knows he is going to be hunted down. Brolin’s face tells the story after committing the murder as his expression changes from pure rage to genuine fear of the consequences that will follow. Chaney is the classic insecure, shady criminal that puts on a “tough guy” mask. Josh Brolin absolutely delivers.
In Inherent Vice, Josh Brolin portrays Lieutenant Detective Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen. Bigfoot is a self-proclaimed “renaissance cop” and part-time actor.
He is a door-busting, case-cracking, civil rights-violating, hippy-hating, 1950s era policeman living in the 1970s. The world just never seems to live up to his high standards. This character has a concrete idea of how things should be. It’s those ideas — and his personal values — that consistently (and comically) foil Joaquin Phoenix’s hippy-stoner private detective, Doc Sportello.
Much like his role as Cable in Deadpool 2, Brolin portrays Bigfoot as the perfect opposite to Phoenix’s Doc Sportello. Sporting a hardcore flattop, Brolin delivers the performance with a unique balance of stone faced seriousness and humorous (and childish) antics. It’s quite remarkable how he manages to change the demeanor of his character nearly instantaneously.
Bigfoot is a densely layered character and a role into which he truly sinks his teeth. He does a fantastic job at realizing the internal struggles within the character. While Brolin is showcasing Bigfoot’s conflicted persona throughout the course of the film, he also maintains his fantastic comedic chemistry with Phoenix. The humor is hilariously delivered with classic Brolin seriousness (or funny without being funny), which makes it even more funny.
This phenomenally layered role allowed Brolin to showcase a wide range of his acting abilities. As a result, his character was absolutely one of the bright spots of the film.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Josh Brolin not only plays the greatest villain of the MCU, but possibly one of the greatest villains ever.
On a journey of sacrifice, power, and “balance”, “The Mad Titan” stops at absolutely nothing to achieve his goal. While it is hard to look beyond the incredible visual effects and choices Thanos makes to combat our heroes, it all works because of one man: Brolin.
Brolin’s voice work and groundbreaking motion capture elevate the character to a compelling, and at times, sympathetic stature. Every scene Brolin is in, Thanos steals. He owns the most screen time in the two-and-a-half hour epic. It is truly Thanos’ movie.
Brolin’s line delivery, dynamic change in emotion, and god-like presence as the iconic villain left me speechless. The fact that he wore a skin-tight jumpsuit covered in dots, a helmet-like camera capturing his slightest facial nuance, along with a ridiculous (and helpful) perspective-assisting cardboard cutout of Thanos’ face towered above his head, shows that, without Brolin, there is no Thanos.
In Milk, Josh Brolin portrays a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Dan White, who is battling with his own sexuality internally. White, a Catholic supported by his family, campaigned against homosexuals, seeing them as “sinners.”
Although Brolin plays a supporting role, he more than stands out in this Academy Award-winning movie.
Standing toe-to-toe with Sean Penn‘s character and real-life assassinated San Francisco Supervisor and civil-rights advocate Harvey Milk, we get a better understanding of Brolin’s character. His intimate nuances and interactions slowly unravel his “true-self” past the alcoholism and self-loathing.
In one scene, containing very minimal dialogue, Brolin completely embodies White, clearly revealing the conflict within himself through powerful facial nuances and pure anguish. It’s no surprise that he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. Emotive and powerful, Josh Brolin’s performance arguably steals the entire picture.
In the aforementioned No Country for Old Men, Josh Brolin plays a down-on-his-luck welder/Vietnam veteran, Llewellyn Moss, who stumbles upon a death-ridden aftermath of a drug deal. Moss, mistakenly, takes the $2 million left behind, and runs.
Moss quickly finds himself hunted by a ruthless beast named Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem. While Moss sees this as a chess match, Chigurh just wants to smash all the pieces. Josh Brolin plays Moss as a grounded, narrative anchor that we instantly root for, but also fear for as he slowly drowns into a violent underworld.
Acclaimed directors Ethan and Joel Coen’s repeated reliance on Josh Brolin is a strong testament to his versatility. Of all his Coen Brother appearances, none are quite as memorable, or iconic, as Llewellyn Moss. Without Brolin, the film would not be a crime drama, but a horror film.
Fun Fact: Josh Brolin won the part over Heath Ledger after a hard campaign that included an audition tape directed by Quentin Tarantino. As his character focused more on silent determination, and vulnerability Brolin studied for the part with ordinary people of Texas, rather than hunters and war heroes.
In W., director Oliver Stone used Josh Brolin to portray former president of the United States, George W. Bush. Presidential biopics are famously audacious by nature. Condensing a presidential term we have lived through into an entertaining film is a nearly impossible task. Stone succeeded.
George W. Bush (often known in Texan-talk as “Dubya” to tell him apart in writing from his presidential father) is often referred to as a president with whom voters would want to drink a cold beer.
Brolin’s performance focuses on Bush’s sincerity and simplicity, arguing the charisma that won Bush votes made him an ill-fit for office. Diving into the Bush backstory, Brolin is reckless of word and action. He drinks too much and cuts people off mid-sentence, especially his father.
Driven by guilt and insecurity, Dubya slowly opens up to the ideas of accountability, patience, and maturity. Brolin nails Bush the politician, the orator, and the stumbler through lack of rehearsal. Bush the president stumbles over better-written lines, merely sugar-coating decisions with what people want to hear.
Brolin emphasizes the power of pause that Bush mastered over time. He learned to listen to the American people, his advisors, and his parents. Bush did not want to rise on nepotism, but self-merit. He did not want to be part of a dynasty, Bush just wanted to make his dad proud, and Brolin more than delivers on that sentiment the most.