A versatile and talented actor, Josh Brolin has appeared in many films. From gripping dramas to action-packed blockbusters, Josh Brolin has demonstrated his acting prowess in a variety of roles.

Before we begin to examine Josh Brolin’s top 10 film roles, it is necessary to take a brief look at the actor’s background and career. Brolin was born on 12 February 1968. Brolin comes from a family that was established in the entertainment industry. His father, James Brolin, is a famous actor and his mother, Jane Kameron Agee, is a wildlife activist. Brolin’s early exposure to the world of acting and film set the stage for his future success in the industry.

Brolin’s acting career began in the mid-1970s, starring in television series such as Private Eyes and 21 Jump Street. However, it was Brando Walsh’s role in the cult classic The Goonies (1985) that propelled him into the spotlight. Since then, Brolin has continued to captivate audiences with compelling roles, winning critical acclaim and establishing himself in Hollywood.

Josh Brolin’s filmography is full of compelling and varied roles that show his range and versatility as an actor. From poignant dramas to epic blockbusters, Brolin has consistently played nuanced and affecting roles that have left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape. The 10 best Josh Brolin film roles highlighted in this list are a testament to his talent and enduring legacy in the world of cinema. Brolin’s ability to embody complex characters, to give them depth and humanity, and to captivate audiences with his presence on screen cement his status as one of the most impressive actors of his generation. As he continues to take on new and challenging roles, audiences can look forward to the next step in Josh Brolin’s illustrious career.

Still from the film “Jonah Hex”.

10. Jonah Hex, 2010

Jonah Hex is a 2010 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It was directed by Jimmy Hayward and written by Neveldine Taylor. The film stars Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fasbender, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon and Wes Bentley.

The film was backed by a bunch of big-name companies including Legendary Pictures, Mad Chance Productions, Akiva Goldsman and Weed Road Pictures. It was finally released on 18 June 2010 by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film tells the story of John Hex (played by Josh Brolin) during the American Civil War, who serves as a Confederate cavalryman until his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull, orders him to burn down a hospital. Hex refuses and is forced to kill his best friend, Turnbul’s son Jeb.

After the war, Turnbul and his enforcer Burke force Hex to watch his house burn with his wife and son. The villainous officer marks Hex’s face with his initials and leaves him for dead. The Native Americans revive John with mystical powers, enabling him to temporarily raise the dead.

When Turnbull is killed in a hotel fire, Hex satisfies his desire for revenge. However, it turns out that the villain survives and hijacks a train carrying the components of an experimental “super weapon”, slashing the guards and passengers. Then-President Grant claims that Turnbull is planning a terrorist attack to celebrate America’s centenary on the Fourth of July and orders Army Lieutenant Gras to hire Hex to stop his old enemy. (Justas Pridotkas)

Jonah Hex is the kind of “popcorn” film that doesn’t require much thought or plot. It is the kind of film that few moviegoers can overestimate (it is not worth a 9 or a 10), and the kind of film that critics will destroy, but also the kind of film that will surprise many who give it a chance. It is well worth watching – especially if you have a TV and a sound system that can give you an almost cinematic experience. There are certainly subtle touches in the film that will appeal to most, and Malkovich and Brolin really take the film to the next level.

Still from the film “Inherent Vice”.

9. Inherent Vice (2014)

Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, this film completes Anderson’s informal trilogy of what the director himself has called “American Paranoia” stories (the previous films in the series are There Will Be Blood and The Master). Thomas Pynchon is perhaps the most enigmatic writer in America after Jerome Salinger: both were secretive about their lives, kept out of the public eye, and thus intrigued literary professionals and fans of their talent. It is true that Salinger has recently died and Pinchon is still alive, but nobody can say anything about him (even a few photographs of him in his youth can be found on the internet).

The multi-layered plot of The Human Weakness, both novel and film, is very difficult to narrate, because the writer has put so many different elements into the dense structure of a crime novel, that reviewers have even coined the phrase “hysterical realism”.

The plot centers on Detective Larry Sportel (Joaquin Phoenix), who is investigating several cases at the same time. Soon it becomes clear that all the investigations are connected, and the marijuana-addled detective, constantly teetering on the edge of absurdity and surreal hallucinations, is plunged into a vortex that defies the laws of logic, strange characters and disturbing organizations intertwine – gangsters, the Black Panthers, the Chinese syndicate Golden Fang, the neo-Nazis of the Aryan Brotherhood, a sect that holds meetings in a psychiatric hospital, and even… some mysterious dental union.

Brolin stars in the film as Lieutenant Detective Kristian F. Bjornsen, a straightforward and serious Los Angeles detective who is at odds with Dick’s methods. Brolin’s portrayal of the snowman is proof of his ability to make even the most enigmatic characters deep and human, as he navigates a surreal and intricate narrative. In the film, the actor embodies the detective with black humor and pathos, portraying him as a complex and distinctive personality operating in the haze of 1970s counterculture and criminal intrigue. His performance adds intrigue and unpredictability to the film, contributing to its enigmatic and hypnotic atmosphere. “Human Frailty succeeds and engages thanks to its neo-noir mystery and 1960s mood, and Brolin is supported by a large ensemble cast that also includes Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro and Martin Short.

Still from the film “American Gangster”.

8. American Gangster (2007)

One of the most intriguing films I’ve ever seen in my life, this is the story of a particular drug lord, Frank Lucas, a big-time heroin dealer in the Harlem area of New York, USA, decades ago.

A really long film dominated by blacks, a glossy, disco-age phase when all anyone cared about was getting high and making a lot of money. Well, and of course to commit certain crimes. For me, this is one of the most memorable characters portrayed by a truly professional Hollywood actor, Denzel Washington. Probably the most memorable scene from this film, and the one that I often recount to those around me in certain lectures, is the one in which the protagonist of the film arrives at a packed boxing match wearing exotic and luxurious fur coats, and the camera lenses of the ‘operas’, who are capturing the surroundings and hunting for drug dealers, are then drawn to the protagonist of the film.

The filmmakers seem to be sending a clear message to all those who love the gangster life: if you are someone who likes to break the law, you’d better not show off the glittering luxury that attracts attention from afar. I confess that I have had to research the history of a number of famous Lithuanian criminal gangs, and I have spoken to the criminologists who have smashed them, who have also straightforwardly admitted that most of the time, our criminals only stumble when they start to display luxury – building huge and luxurious mansions, dressing themselves and their closest women up in exceptionally splendid clothes, and driving brand-new limousines. (Dailius Dargis)

In Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, based on a true crime story, Brolin co-starred with Hollywood stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Brolin plays Detective Trupo, a corrupt police officer who takes bribes from Frank and confronts Roberts.

Trupo, one of the film’s main antagonists, is willing to break the law and play dirty, despite his power. Brolin’s performance as Trupo gives the film a sense of menace and moral ambiguity, increasing the tension and complexity of the narrative. His commanding presence and subtle acting contribute to the gritty and ruthless portrayal of the criminal world, making the film a standout in Brolin’s filmography. American Gangster is a gritty example of classic gangster films, and it is excellent.

Still from the film “True Grit”.

7. True Grit (2010)

True Grit is special because it was not only written and produced by the Coen brothers. Steven Spielberg, a well-known name in the cinema world, contributed to the film. Based on the 1968 novel of the same name by Charles Portis, this film is the second adaptation of the story.

The plot concerns a girl (played by Kim Darby) who seeks to avenge the death of her father. She hires a strong, old marshal (played by John Wayne) with a drinking problem because of the marshal’s reputation for always getting the job done. The two join forces with a Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell) who is looking for the same man for a murder in the state of Texas. The trio’s peculiar odyssey takes them from Arkansas to Oklahoma to find the killer. Along the way, each character faces their own challenges and has the opportunity to fully reveal themselves.

Opening the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in 2011, True Grit was well received by critics. It was nominated for ten Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Soundtrack and Best Sound Editing. Unfortunately, however, the film did not win any of the nominations. This Coen brothers’ film perfectly combines a “western” style with modern cinematographic techniques, actors perfectly suited to their roles, and clever humour.

Actor Brolin has starred in several Coen Brothers’ films, and True Grit is undoubtedly one of the best. It breathes new life into a stale story and proves once again that Brolin’s portrayal of Tom Chaney, the assassin, has the talent to play villainous characters even before he played Thanos. The film was nominated for ten Oscars in 2011, but unfortunately did not win any of them.

Still from the film “Milk”.

6. Milk (2008)

A biographical drama about a great man who fought for human rights and freedom of speech. He is Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to hold a prominent position in the state of California and an activist for LGBT+ rights.

Sadly, he was assassinated by his political opponent in 1978, along with then Mayor George Moscone, at the age of just 48. This is a film about the divided scale of human values, where one person may become a murderer to carry out an ideological execution, while another may become a guardian angel and a good Samaritan to many. A film that will not leave you indifferent and promotes goodness, humanity and humility, love and respect for others. It is a story of selflessness, dedication and passion for life.

Interestingly, thousands of people have agreed to be extras without any remuneration, but only on the basis of an ideological desire. Sean Penn, who played the lead role, had prosthetic teeth and nose, contact lenses and hair.

The actor’s acting is exceptional and his talent is evident in this film and in his other films. It is a wonderful episode that takes the viewer back to the second half of the 20th century and captivates with its wonderful acting, interesting cinematographic choices and, of course, the story itself. (Justė Meištaitė)

Brolin certainly kept up with the lead actor. In 2009, the Academy finally recognised Brolin’s talent and nominated him in the Best Supporting Actor category for his performance as Dan White in the biopic Milk. Dan White is another officer and Harvey’s opponent, full of hatred and unable to accept Harvey’s identity.

Harvey fights White to prevent a statewide initiative banning gays and their allies from working in public schools, and the story ends in tragedy. Milk is an inspiring film that brings out the best and the worst of humanity, with Brolin completely disappearing in his incredible performance and deservedly earning his first (and only) Oscar nomination.

Still from the film “Avengers: Infinity War”.

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

This reunion of the Marvel Universe could surely be called the most anticipated and talked-about film of the year. Knowing that this is only the first part of the film, we can sense the incompleteness.

Marvel’s longest film reunites the heroes we’ve grown to love over a decade, reunites all the worlds, and finally introduces the mystical Infinity Stones to the audience. The person who collects all six stones will become the most powerful man in the universe. Thanos (Josh Brolin), the Avengers’ greatest enemy, is obsessed with power and killing, and sets out to collect them all. He believes that the universe can only be balanced if half of civilisation is wiped out.

Although the fight against Thanos is central to the film, Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana) and her relationship with the aforementioned villain, who is her fake father, definitely takes second place. This whole story is a bit disconnected from the main action and plays a decisive role in the whole plot, adding even more drama and sadness to the film.

More than fifty characters, spectacular visual effects and completely different stories that the Russo brothers have managed to combine into a seamless film that is full of unexpected twists and turns, drama and Marvel-specific humour, with a finale that simply takes your breath away. (Sandra Šidlauskaitė)

This is probably Brolin’s biggest and most famous role to date, in which he embodies a tyrannical titan. The genocidal warlord is one of the MCU’s best and most complex villains, thanks to the justification for his insane actions and the emotional connections he has with characters like his daughter Gamora (played by Zoe Saldaña). Motion capture technology was used to transform Brolin into Thanos, who is completely unrecognizable and purple from head to toe.

Still from the film “Dune: Part Two”.

4. Dune (2021) and Dune: Part Two (2024)

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, which is now on the screens, has attracted a lot of attention from both fans and sceptics of the cult novel. The film is nominated for ten Oscars. Set in the distant future in an interstellar feudal human empire ruled by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, it tells the story of a space empire’s wasteland that has become the most valuable planet in the future universe.

In “Old Earth”, humans are long gone and much of history has been forgotten, although various historical and religious traditions survive, mostly intermingled, e.g. the religious book “The Orange Catholic Bible” is a mixture of Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and other religions that are currently in use.

And the greatest treasure on a planet ravaged by devastating storms is the special spice melange, a valuable substance that gives its users increased vitality and expands consciousness. This energising ‘vitamin’ is essential for faster-than-light interstellar travel, enabling space navigators to safely navigate interstellar space. Without Arakis, there would be no civilisation. Whoever controls Arakis controls the forces of destiny. (Gediminas Jankauskas)

And the sequel to the classic fantasy story explores the mythical journey of Polo Atreides as he teams up with the Chani and the Fremenais (nomads) to take revenge on the conspirators who destroyed his family. Faced with a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the universe, he tries to prevent a terrible future that only Atreides himself can foresee.

In this film, as in the first, we see the feeling, the real feeling, of a young boy becoming a nomadic Messiah on a desert planet inhabited by giant worms that guard the most precious material in the Universe. That material turns people into travellers, mystics and madmen. What price will he have to pay, what will he have to go through to become the new ruler of their universe…?

In the first part of the film, Gurnis Hallek (Brolin), the weapons master of the House of Atreides, teaches Paul how to fight, preparing him for the challenges that lie ahead. Brolin brings a physical intensity to his role, and in the second part Brolin returns as Gurney Hallek, one of Polo’s mentors, who helps him in his fight against House Harkonnen. Most importantly, Brolin reprises his role as Gurnis, and there is an unexpected scene in which he plays the Baliset, a guitar-like musical instrument unique to the world of Dune. This is one of the rare musical moments in the film where Brolin brings some charisma and lightness to the overall seriousness of the film. This film is also the third collaboration between Brolin and Villenueve after Sicario and the first part of Dune.

Still from the film “The Goonies”.

3. The Goonies (1985)

Like Gremlins, The Goonies balances between fun and horror. It is another of Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure works, the story of a group of children chasing a hidden treasure. Spielberg found a niche at the time that suited younger teenagers with a more sophisticated taste in horror films. However, unlike Gremlins or Poltergeist, The Goonies will not keep young audiences awake at night with nightmares.

Directed by Richard Donner, The Goonies futures a group of friends who call themselves goonies. The group consists of Brandon, Data, Mouth and Chunk. The young group discovers an old map that contains the treasure of the one-eyed pirate Willy. The group of children decide to search for the treasure, but encounter villains, one of whom is a deformed monster.

According to director Richard Donner, although the team had some difficulties working with the young actors, most of them performed well and were nominated for Saturn Awards. Spielberg’s creativity and the energy of the young people really make the film stand out. (Arnas Mackonis)

Brolin made his acting debut in The Goonies, one of the best-loved family films of the 1980s, which is still loved and watched again and again. Brolin plays Brandon, the older brother of Mickey (Sean Astin), who often gives him a hard time. At first, he doesn’t believe in Mickey because of the existence of a treasure, but is drawn into adventure and danger. In addition to Brolin, the film also starred many other child actors who later became big stars, including Astin, Cory Feldman, Martha Plimpton and Ke Huy Quan.

Still from the film “Sicario”.

2. Sicario(2015)

The action thriller Sicario is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of any viewer. Starring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin, it tells the story of an idealistic FBI agent caught in a difficult situation involving the drug war on the US-Mexico border.

FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) is involved in a special operation to rescue people taken hostage. The suspicious house turns out to be devoid of living people, with corpses everywhere. Several of her colleagues are killed during the operation. Later, Kate discovers that the house belongs to a Mexican drug cartel. The agent’s boss offers her to join a top-secret group led by Matt Greiver (Josh Brolin) and his partner Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). As time passes, more questions arise for the girl, and the main dilemma is where does the law end and crime begin? She feels as if she is betraying the very reason she joined the security forces in the first place. (Sandra Šidlauskaitė)

The strength of this film lies in its messiness, its dirtiness and its realness. The director once again finds common ground with cinematographer Roger Deakins and together they give us a brave story about how to live in such a world without becoming a monster yourself and without breaking the law. (Sandra Šidlauskaitė)

One of the best films of Brolin’s career and his first collaboration with Denis Villeneuve, the acclaimed crime thriller Sicario.

Together with Benicio Del Toro, who plays a mysterious undercover specialist, the actors form a compelling trio and the film offers a powerful and disturbing commentary on the war on drugs. The film is full of shocking action and twists, and Brolin later reprised his role as Greiver in the 2018 sequel.

The film was a huge success and the sequel was also well-received, making fans eagerly await the third instalment. Many viewers agree that there were many tense moments in the film, especially the border skirmish scenes, and the suspenseful music really adds emotion to an already good film.

Still from the film “No Country for Old Men”.

1. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, this crime drama is mesmerising from the very first shot and never lets up until the finale. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, the 2007 Oscar winner for Best Picture tells the story of a hunter in rural Texas who is faced with a failed drug deal and millions in cash.

Somewhere in the deep prairies of the Texas backcountry, Vietnam War veteran Levelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers a horrifying sight: five abandoned cars in the desert, a pile of armed corpses, a huge shipment of Mexican heroin, and a suitcase with two million greenbacks in it. Since the dead don’t need the money, the cowboy decides to keep this trinket in his home. It is immediately clear to the hero that this unexpected good fortune spells big problems.

The plot of the film is reminiscent of a snow avalanche triggered by one irresponsible act. This has happened many times in the Coen brothers’ films. And when the tide of violence is too high, it is impossible to prevent it. The film was a critical and commercial success.

It is the pinnacle of Brolin’s career so far. In 2008, the film won the Oscar for Best Picture. It is a masterful film with a tense plot. Brolin, as Moss, masterfully and compellingly navigates the treacherous and unforgiving landscape of the Texas-Mexico border as he is pursued by the ruthless and mysterious assassin Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).

Brolin’s performance in the film reveals his ability to convey moral ambiguity and vulnerability as he travels through a world fraught with danger and moral decay. His screen presence and the palpable tension he brings to the role confirm that this is one of the best roles of Brolin’s career.


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