More buzz for Brolin

Posted by · 5:00 pm · October 8th, 2008

The mixed notices for Oliver Stone’s “W.” — some of which seem to be simultaneously admiring and bewildered — make it quite clear that the film isn’t going to be a player in the top categories. But we pretty much knew that all along.

Josh Brolin’s performance, however, is another story altogether. After the stunning breakthrough that he’s had in the past year, playing an incumbent president — and a widely-loathed one at that — in a film by an off-the-boil director might not have seemed the safest career move.

But the gamble appears to have paid off: whatever the ultimate fate of the film, Brolin’s interpretation of Bush has been widely hailed as a courageous and accomplished addition to an increasingly interesting filmography. Naturally, Oscar talk is swirling, and Screen International’s review minces no words on the matter:

A wonderfully brash and fearless performance … If the film itself fails to figure in the year-end awards shortlists, Brolin must surely be considered a likely best actor nominee. Wholly immersing himself in the part, he doesn’t imitate the president so much as breathe human complexity into him. Rudderless and restless as a young man, Brolin nonetheless plays him as a likeable enough fellow, a harmless jock, attractive to women and tortured by his father’s expectations. As a president, Brolin plays him as a man of some intelligence, even if his arrogance and machismo are on full ugly display.

They’re less sold on the film itself, citing “an overpopulated cast” and “a tone that shifts awkwardly between dramatic storytelling and smartass political comedy.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about Brolin, with The Times saying he “does a fine impression of Bush, but that is all it ever feels like: an impression.” Of course, some might say that’s a distinction that has never really bothered the biopic-crazy Academy.

The assumption for a long time was that “Milk” would be Brolin’s awards vehicle this year, with “W.” a little too contentious to bring him glory. But, as ever in awards season, things change. James Franco is rumoured to be the real supporting standout in “Milk,” while “W.” isn’t turning out to be the universally reviled trainwreck that some pundits were anticipating.

Many felt that Brolin didn’t get his due in awards season last year — despite headlining the Best Picture champ and turning in eye-catching support in “American Gangster” and “In the Valley of Elah,” he received not so much as a nomination anywhere for his pains. Should the various awards bodies decide to make it up to him this time around, my guess is he’ll be riding “W.” as his horse.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 10-08-2008 at 7:36 pm

    BobMcBob said...

    no, he won’t

  • 2 10-08-2008 at 7:51 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    To all those incensed that this film shows a rounded perspective on George W. Bush and therefore deny its merits: Who, exactly, is being fascist?

  • 3 10-08-2008 at 8:21 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    I think it’s a good move that W. is not as heavy-handed against Bush as one might expect. Stone’s even-headed portrayal of NIXON worked better as a result of a sense of understanding, so I would expect it’d work better here as well. I think Brolin has a good shot at being recognized, for all the reasons listed above.

  • 4 10-08-2008 at 10:11 pm

    Paul said...

    This is playing out pretty much as I expected. I think the film, perhaps wobbling under the weight of expectations, it’s real-time content, and the sheer scope of its story, will be a very good but not exceptional film.

    But the performances of several of the primary cast are by all accounts VERY strong.

    Brolin will be in a good position for a Best Actor nomination. And I’ve been a huge believer that Elizabeth Banks is going to deliver a very grounded, complex, yet touching portrayal of “Laura Bush”.

    Look for these two to be in a very strong position for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress nominations, respectively.

    People are going to love their love story. And be surprised by how identifiable they are as regular, down to earth people.

  • 5 10-09-2008 at 11:37 am

    Hardy said...

    I simply think Best Actor is too loaded for Brolin. If he gets a nom, it’ll be for BSActor in Milk.

  • 6 10-09-2008 at 2:49 pm

    Paul said...

    Fair point on Best Actor being loaded. It is going to be a tough, tough category this year, for sure.

    What do you think of the chances for several of the supporting actors though in “W.”?

    I’ve long believed that the place where “W.” would get acknowledged is in the Supporting Actor categories.

  • 7 10-09-2008 at 2:57 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I suppose Richard Dreyfuss is the strongest Supporting Actor contender from the film, but I really don’t see it.

    As far as I can see, the film’s awards hopes rest with Brolin and Elizabeth Banks, and I think they’re still outsiders.