Sorry, Josh

Posted by · 8:18 am · February 14th, 2009

I like Josh Brolin a great deal, and I particularly like his performance in “Milk” — a courageous display of against-type delicacy and ambiguity that would be a worthy winner of Best Supporting Actor honours in most years.

Unfortunately for him, most years don’t have the perfect storm of industry sentiment, audience popularity and landmark performing represented by Heath Ledger this year. Not to put too fine a point on it or anything, but I don’t think Brolin — or anyone else, for that matter — stands a snowball’s chance in hell of beating the late Australian. In a chat with the NYT’s Baguette, however, it appears that Brolin himself feels differently:

“After what happened to Tilda Swinton last year, I think pretty (much) anything can happen… That was a surprise. It was. But again. Is it most deserving? Not necessarily.”

Mr. Brolin said that as an Academy member who had voted for the first time last year he gained some insight into the whole voting process. “I think it’s an important film and I think that goes into people deciding what they’re going to vote for … It’s a very strange process. It’s very unlike what I thought it would be because suddenly you personalize it. You look at the body of work of the nominee. Lots of stuff goes through your mind.”

For one thing, Tilda Swinton’s victory last year wasn’t entirely unanticipated, so saying “anything can happen” is a bit of a stretch. Upsets can happen, for sure, but there has to be some semblance of a crack in the frontrunner’s armour, and I don’t see one in Ledger’s case. For me, this is as much a foregone conclusion as Daniel Day-Lewis last year, or Helen Mirren in 2006, but I give Brolin credit for not completely surrendering.

Not every pundit feels the same way, though. Perhaps simply downplaying her expectations due to her passion for the film, Sasha Stone has convinced herself that there is a “really good chance” Ledger will lose:

When everyone aligns behind one specific person that happens to star in a movie they didn’t particularly like, no one watches over what they do in the privacy of their own home, sometimes weird shit can go down.  It would be really embarrassing for them but that is one gene they don’t seem to possess: the ability, in large numbers, to be embarrassed by their choices.

I’m not buying it. The fact that pundits can’t even agree on a conclusive runner-up — Stone, like Kris, thinks Robert Downey Jr is best poised to upset, but a number of people favour Brolin or even Philip Seymour Hoffman — is proof to me that no other contender has the momentum to overtake this express train. Ledger has this. Breathe, relax and take it to the bank.

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27 responses so far

  • 1 2-14-2009 at 8:38 am

    Rockmocha said...

    Anybody But Heath, please. This may be the most overhyped performance EVER. Brolin, PSH and Shannon gave better performances. Icant wait for the Oscars just so we can finally get off this kid’s undeserving jock. Enough already!

  • 2 2-14-2009 at 8:53 am

    tony rock said...

    you obviously don’t know what acting is

  • 3 2-14-2009 at 9:11 am

    Matthew said...

    I expect Ledger will win, and thank goodness too since he deserves it. But I think that thinking he is locked down is a ridiculous thought. I mean, anything can happen, especially with the Academy. Remember who this is, just because there is that perfect storm happening, doesn’t mean the Academy will let Ledger win. Again, I expect he will, but I will not be completely surprised if the moronic academy nominates someone else.

  • 4 2-14-2009 at 9:12 am

    Matthew said...

    That last “nominates” was supposed to be “votes … to win” or something like that.

  • 5 2-14-2009 at 9:29 am

    Scott Ward said...

    I don’t know Guy, I think very, very few people thought Swinton would win last year, and Brolin is certainly right in saying it wasn’t deserving (I know he didn’t say it that explicitly, but we obviously can read between the lines here).

    But I agree, no one has a chance against Ledger. Even if for some reason they didn’t like his performance, I think they will at least vote for him for Brokeback.

  • 6 2-14-2009 at 9:49 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I was one of the few that predicted Swinton to win. Especially after her BAFTA win. Earned me a hefty €150 as well :D.

  • 7 2-14-2009 at 9:51 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Swinton had a massive surge of momentum in the home stretch, Scott, helped by the BAFTA win and a curious passion for “Michael Clayton” among more conservative voters. It was a very open race, but several sharp pundits (including Kris, if I remember correctly) saw her win coming.

  • 8 2-14-2009 at 10:00 am

    Ben said...

    Also, remember Supporting Actress last year was really wide open (With Ryan, Blanchett, and Dee, in addition to Swinton, all having legitimate chances to win). And we all remember the Michael Clayton “surge” at the end of the season. And Tilda Swinton is one of those actresses who works alot in supporting roles and has a lot of contacts and respect in the industry. It was no shock.

    Josh Brolin is wonderful in Milk, but he won’t win (and I’m no Ledger/TDK fanboy). He would probably if not for Ledger though.

  • 9 2-14-2009 at 10:18 am

    James D. said...

    Brolin has been fantastic lately. If the trend continues, he will be back soon enough. This is Ledger’s last chance, and he is due. As much as I dislike the Dark Knight, I have to say he is better than my personal favorite, Michael Shannon.

  • 10 2-14-2009 at 10:41 am

    red_wine said...

    I would vote for Brolin but I’m okay with Ledger winning, that was a good performance too. PSH(probably the best working actor) is the only undeserving performance in this category.

  • 11 2-14-2009 at 12:22 pm

    THE Diego Ortiz said...

    Ledger is in because Stephen Colbert predicted it using his “The DaColbert Code” along with Penelope, Kate, Mickey, and Slumdog.

  • 12 2-14-2009 at 12:44 pm

    JC said...

    I like Brolin in general, but felt his role in Milk was underwritten, and were I to nominate a supporting actor from Milk, I’d sooner go with Franco, or even Hirsch who, to me, more fully embodied their characters.

    All that said, I’ve seen most of the key “supporting” roles, and I don’t feel anyone did as memorable work as Ledger, this year. Any halfway decent actor can play naturalistic, and any actor can go over-the-top. He took a potentially full-on cartoonish character and rooted him in a firmly believable psychology. Body language, line readings, subtext…damn near perfect.

    People may discuss Brolin’s film work in the years to come, but I highly doubt that his portrayal of Dan White will garner the most attention.

    All that said, I’d never underestimate the Academy’s ability

  • 13 2-14-2009 at 12:45 pm

    JC said...

    ….to blow it.

  • 14 2-14-2009 at 2:31 pm

    Jake said...

    Brolin sounds very selfish here. I understand he is trying to bring to the light the possibility of an upset, but there are other ways of doing that.

  • 15 2-14-2009 at 2:58 pm

    Chris said...

    I predicted Swinton last year, and I actually felt quite sure about it. “Michael Clayton” had to win something, because it was loved by many.

    On the other hand, I don’t even know why you’d nominate Brolin, so I don’t see him winning even if Ledger lost. And that’s not going to happen.

  • 16 2-14-2009 at 4:07 pm

    HBK said...

    Josh Brolin does not deserve to win .

    He is the worst of 5 nominees .

    If heath loses , Robert Downey or Philip Seymour Hoffman or Michael Shannon should win .

    Heath has a 100 % chance , no way he can lose .

  • 17 2-14-2009 at 4:33 pm

    Fernando said...

    I do think Heath will win.
    And that’s about all the love TDK will get that night. Shame on the academy!
    I’m sorry for Nolan and team, I really am, specially since I enjoyed and I loved TDK from beginning to end. I saw it 5 times in 3 different states!

  • 18 2-14-2009 at 4:51 pm

    Glenn said...

    Tilda deserved to win last year, definitely. Not sure what Brolin’s on about there.

  • 19 2-14-2009 at 5:12 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Did anybody on here see I’m Not There last year? If you did and you have seen any video of Dylan around his Blonde on Blonde era (if you don’t know what I’m talking about then you don’t know Dylan), you’ll see that not only was Blanchett’s performance completely spot on, but that she was the only person who could have played Dylan that well.

    Jake: How the hell can you say that Brolin is being selfish here? Did you not read where he said that the most deserving nominee does not not always win? He’s not stating why he thinks he SHOULD win, the reporter asked him a question, and he stated a way he thought that he COULD win. Try to comprehend what you read, because what you say says more about you than the person you talk about.

  • 20 2-14-2009 at 8:07 pm

    Michael Rogers said...

    I hope everyone is right about Ledger being a sure thing. Otherwise my TV may not last Oscar night.

  • 21 2-14-2009 at 10:55 pm

    PJ said...

    I don’t think the Academy will be able to survive the fallout from Ledger not winning.

  • 22 2-14-2009 at 11:26 pm

    Jake said...

    Scott Ward,

    Calm down. The nature of the article is selfish. I understand where you’re coming from. Either David Carr intentionally wrote it that way, or Brolin simply comes off as rather pretentious. Listen, I obviously don’t know Brolin personally, but if you just read what he has said, namely his little reminder about Swinton’s win, the way it is worded (and believe me, my comprehension is just fine thank you very much) makes it seem like he not only voted for himself (I’m an idealist, I don’t expect everyone else to be), but that he’s rooting for the Ledger loss. This comes full circle with Carr’s lead in, “Mr. Brolin said he believed a certain Mr. Brolin has a pretty good shot at the award for his performance in ‘Milk.'” Like I said above, perhaps its the nature of the article, but I find all of these articles to be overly ridiculous and a way to simply attract readers. There’s no need to attack me here. When approached with the question that Brolin was asked, who in his right mind says what he did? The more appropriate response should have been “I’m just happy to be nominated, and I don’t want to speculate about who will win,” or simply refuse to answer. It’s great that he has insight into Academy voting trends, but to go on about “Well, anything goes” is unnecessary. We all know that “anything goes” is the tried and true possibility for everything. I’m not entirely blaming Brolin for this (and this isn’t a scolding by any means, which is why I’m a little shocked why you would respond the way you did). David Carr wrote the article and used Brolin’s words in a way that he thought would be most interesting. Anyway, I’m done here. Brolin is a great actor and I have nothing against him. I simply think that his response was a bit unnecessary as well as the article itself.

  • 23 2-15-2009 at 12:48 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Scott: Of course I saw “I’m Not There” last year — it was one of 2007’s finest for me, and I thought, along with Daniel Day-Lewis, Cate Blanchett gave the performance of the year.

    But I still wasn’t remotely surprised when she lost. I don’t think many Academy members could sit through the film, let alone vote for it, sadly.

  • 24 2-15-2009 at 2:59 am

    Alex said...

    Everyone will hate him if he beats Heath Ledger.

  • 25 2-15-2009 at 8:13 am

    bigherbs said...

    I have bets going with friends that Downey Jr will away with Supporting Actor. I love TDK and loved Ledger’s Joker; this is a performance for the ages that has already immortalized the late Aussie actor. But my gut tells me the Academy will go against the grain and bestow the Oscar on Downey.

  • 26 2-15-2009 at 6:21 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Jake, your belief that Brolin hinted that he probably voted for himself is an insinuation that can not be backed up in any way. And you say your comprehension is fine, yet I still have to question it, because if you read Brolin’s words, there is no hint of selfishness there. Let’s use some elementary logic here. A) Nearly everyone believes Ledger will win, and that he will do so deservedly. B) Brolin explicitly says that the most deserving nominee does not always win. C) Clearly Brolin has not been living under a rock since the past summer, so even if he does think he deserves the award (which we can in no way gather that he thinks that) he certainly realizes who the favorite is. D) So by combining B and C, we can gather that Brolin simply thinks he has a chance only because the most deserving nominee does not always win. Again, to important things to realize here is the difference Brolin makes in stating how he COULD win, not SHOULD win. You seem to attack him because he did not give the politically correct answer. That really does not make sense. If every nominated interviewee simply said “I’m happy to be nominated,” what would the point be in conducting interviews? Of course he’s happy to be nominated. I don’t know why anyone would want to hear that answer. And the lead in by Carr that you mention is Carr’s words, not Brolin’s. Again I don’t see how you can attack a guy simply because of something someone wrote about him.

    And Guy, I was speaking more to the people who said that Swinton deserved to win last year. A great performance, but IMO not even in the same league as Blanchett. And I commend you for realizing that Swinton could very well win, but see, we still agree that Blanchett should have definitely won.

  • 27 2-16-2009 at 11:50 am

    Chris said...

    Tilda deserved. Was it surprising? No. Blanchett was great too but it wasn’t really a supporting role and many people think it was all pretentious mimic.
    In fact, Swinton is way better than Blanchett. Blanchett is more famous but come on.. Did you guys saw any of Derek Jarman movie? She is a legend!