Josh Brolin movies: 15 greatest films, ranked worst to best, include ‘Milk,’ ‘Sicario,’ ‘The Goonies’

After a brief cameo in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and another in 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Josh Brolin will make a full-fledged and villainous appearance as Thanos in this week’s blockbuster movie “Avengers: Infinity War.” The film is the latest in the popular series of films based on the Marvel comic books.

It was over 30 years ago that the teenage Brolin made his film debut in “The Goonies” but it is only in the last 10 years or so that he has risen to the top of the list of respected actors and become a full-out movie star. As Brolin himself joked on an episode of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” he got everything wrong for the first half of his career and only recently started getting it right. Brolin is perhaps being too hard on himself since he has had a very steady rise in show business and slowly developed into a more and more respected actor.

Brolin is the son of actor James Brolin, who came to fame on TV’s “Marcus Welby M.D.” and currently appears on the CBS sitcom “Life in Pieces” as well as being the husband of film icon Barbra Streisand. After his auspicious start in “The Goonies” Josh Brolin actually left Hollywood and film acting for a number of years because he was so upset with how bad his acting was in a little seen film called “Thrashin.” He retreated to Rochester, NY and appeared in regional theater where he learned to improve his acting skills from fellow actor Anthony Zerbe.

Brolin slowly started working again on television and had a three-year run on the TV series “The Long Riders.” His film career started up again in full force in the late 1990s with supporting roles. He scored a success on the New York stage when he replaced Philip Seymour Hoffman in the cast of “True West” at the Circle in the Square Theater on Broadway.

With Brolin’s debut in the world of Marvel, Gold Derby takes a tour of the greatest roles of Brolin’s film career and choose his top 15 performances, ranked worst to best. The photo gallery includes his Oscar-nominated “Milk” plus “No Country for Old Men,” “Sicario” and more.

15. THE DEAD GIRL (2006)
This complex film which tells five different stories all centering on a murdered young woman (Murphy) features Brolin in one of his key supporting roles prior to his full out movie stardom. Brolin plays a john of the title character’s whose life has sunk to such a level that she has to turn to prostitution.

14. EVEREST (2015)
Brolin plays a doctor and amateur mountain climber in this true-life story of a horrible blizzard in 1996 that stranded a bunch of people trying to climb the tall peak. The film features amazing scenery and a suspenseful plot of survival and endurance.

13. GRINDHOUSE (2007)
Brolin has a key role in this compilation and salute to old exploitation films that used to populate cheap movie theaters. While the violence and over the top action turned off some viewers Brolin does well with his screen time alongside a nearly all-star cast.

12. HAIL, CAESAR (2016)
Brolin reteamed with his long-time collaborators the Coen brothers only this time he had the lead role in this tale of the 1950s Hollywood studio age. Brolin plays a “fixer” who is called upon to handle the various problems and scandals his actor clients find themselves involved in. As the calm in the center of many storms Brolin is suave and dignified as he tries to iron out the problems his clients get themselves into.

11. ONLY THE BRAVE (2017)
This story of an Arizona firefighter’s quest to train his own team of forest fire fighters opened last year to genuinely strong reviews but failed to make much of an impact at the box office. The Toronto Star singled out Brolin as being “superb and sublime as the gruff Marsh, a man quietly battling his own inner demons.”

Mostly remembered for its surprise Best Actor Oscar nomination for star Tommy Lee Jones, this story about a father searching for answers to his son’s disappearance was part of Brolin’s stellar output in 2007. The actor got to literally play both good cop and bad cop this year since in this film he plays a sheriff as honorable as his character in “American Gangster” was dishonorable.

9. THE GOONIES (1985)
Few actors get the chance to hit it big the first time out but that happened to Brolin in his debut film. While the film was a box office success it received mixed reviews upon its first release. Cable TV was quite kind to the film though and as a generation grew up having the film as a treasured memory. As the only teenage principle character among the child cast Brolin shone as the kind of stalwart big brother most kids dream of having.

The year 2007 was one that really put Brolin in the big leagues with four performances in major films. The big draw on this particular film was to see titans Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe go mano a mano, but Brolin more than holds his own as a sinister and corrupt New York City police detective.

7. SICARIO (2015)
Brolin often seems cast as law enforcement officials and “Sicario” is not an exception to this pattern. Here he plays a Department of Justice official working on the drug war along the US Mexico border.

After working primarily on television for the decade after “The Goonies” Brolin returned to the big screen as yes, another police officer in this first major star-studded film from David O. Russell. This is a bit of a different situation since as the story evolves we begin to see that Brolin and has police partner (Richard Jenkins) are more than just police partners but romantic partners as well.

5. TRUE GRIT (2010)
The original version of “True Grit” won an Oscar for John Wayne in 1969 and Jeff Bridges received a nomination for this version in the same role. This version by the Coen brothers followed the original novel more closely than it did the previous film version. Brolin plays the murderer of the father of the teen age girl at the center of the film. He makes the role his own and avoids the pitfalls of making the character too much of a mustache twirling stereotypical villain.

Brolin was among the ensemble of actors in this the most Oscar awarded of the Coen brother’s films. The movie won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for the brothers and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem. Brolin has a pivotal role in the film as a hunter who finds two million dollars that belonged to two murdered drug dealers.

3. W. (2008)
Brolin received some award attention for this biopic of the 43rd U.S. President. Oliver Stone and his films are usually lightning rods for controversy and this film was no exception. The only surprise about this film may be that the notoriously liberal Stone made a film that was much more sympathetic to the president than had been expected.

Perhaps one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s most divisive films, this film was on the top of some critic’s 10 Best Lists but it also had many detractors as did the book by controversial author Thomas Pynchon. The film was a big success for Brolin, though. His performance as an L.A.P.D. detective earned him nominations from a number of critic’s groups.

1. MILK (2008)
Brolin received his first Oscar nomination as well as the New York Film Critic’s Award and the National Board of Review award as Best Supporting Actor of 2008 for this highly acclaimed biopic of the gay rights activist and San Francisco city official Harvey Milk. The film won Oscars for Sean Penn as Best Actor for the title role as well as one for Dustin Lance Black for his original screenplay. Brolin plays Dan White a fellow San Francisco politician who eventually murders Milk and Mayor George Moscone.

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