Sunday, February 17, 2008

Best Body of Work, 2007

Josh Brolin [actor, No Country for Old Men/Grindhouse/American Gangster/In the Valley of Elah] (106 points/16 votes)

"Every few years or so, it seems like an actor appears on the cinematic landscape, seemingly out of nowhere, and makes such an impression that it's a shock to learn that they've been there all along, doing solid if unremarkable work until the confluence of the right time and the right part conspire to thrust them into the spotlight. (Chris Cooper, Kathy Bates and James Cromwell come to mind.) This year, it's Josh Brolin's turn.

"Right now, is there another actor who is better at simply doing? He's a remarkably unfussy performer, content to hold back on the emoting and let the actions, whether it be hiding a case full of money in a ventilation shaft or diagnosing a zombie bite, do the talking. It's the kind of style that could get lost in a loud, obvious kind of movie, and that's what nearly happens to him in Robert Rodriguez's half of Grindhouse. "Planet Terror" is overstuffed with characters, and Rodriguez compensates by turning them into easily-identifiable cartoons -- except Brolin, who actively resists simplification. His vengeance-minded Dr. Block, thanks to Brolin's underplaying, comes off as morally damaged instead of the outright villain the story wants him to be. Yet, this is just doodling in the margins of a big-budget "B" film, and it didn't prepare anyone for his career-changing performance in No Country For Old Men. As Llewelyn Moss, Brolin's gift for understatement finds a perfect match in the Coen Brothers' "less is more" style of cinema. Despite the lead role, it feels like he speaks less here than in Grindhouse; much of his performance is watching him think through a situation and then implement a solution. It's never unemotional, though; when he does speak -- particularly the story-changing "All right" -- the waves of guilt are palpable. It's a terrific performance, one that could only be pulled off with Brolin's confidence and charisma.

"Brolin clearly has a big career ahead of him, and it'll be exciting to see it develop. Reportedly, he's up for the most unyielding and monosyllabic villain of all time. I'll let you decide if I'm talking about the Terminator or George W. Bush." ~ Kent Beeson

Roger Deakins [cinematographer- The Assassination of Jesse James/No Country for Old Men/In the Valley of Elah] (74/11)
Philip Seymour Hoffman [actor- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead/Charlie Wilson's War/The Savages] (52/8)
Casey Affleck [actor- The Assassination of Jesse James/Gone Baby Gone/Ocean's Thirteen] (51/8)
Michael Cera [actor- Superbad/Juno] (26/5)

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Steve C. said...

Just to clarify: My vote for Arnett was SOLELY for his voiceover work. I can't defend something like The Brothers Solomon in a body-of-work vote.

Craig Kennedy said...

He's no longer just "that guy from The Goonies"

Kza said...

Aargh, I totally forgot about Ben Foster. I actually preferred his work in 30 Days of Night to 3:10 (sorry, Steve). Might've been able to put him in the Top 13. Oh well.


Heeey... BROTHERS SOLOMON was underrated for what it was... not that I'm going to work to defend it or anything.

But BLADES OF GLORY and THE COMEBACKS... now, THOSE were indefensible.

Steve C. said...

I know this is late, but...

Just saw The Assassination of That Guy by That Other Guy, and while I'm wholly in agreement with the love for Affleck the Younger and wish I'd been able to vote for him, I'm honestly shocked that another actor from the ensemble, whom I know has a little bit of love coming up in the Best Actor race, received not a single vote. For shame, people! (And for shame, myself, for not seeing this film in time to cast a vote in a bunch of categories for it!)

RC said...

true enough, brolin is everywhere and has some big projects in 2008 & 2009...he's certainly seems to be picked and chosen for the right type of films.