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Face Off: Josh Brolin vs. Jeremy Renner

Jan. 30, 2014by: Dave Davis
In last week's Face-Off column, movie monster-mashers VAN HELSING and HELLBOY had to duke it out, and the vast majority of you agreed with the assessment that Big Red used the Right Fist of Doom to severely pummel Hugh Jackman's pretty-haired creature-killer.

This weekend, Josh Brolin joins Kate Winslet in LABOR DAY, the new drama from JUNO and UP IN THE AIR director Jason Reitman. Let's put Brolin up against another versatile actor with a familiar face, Jeremy Renner.
EARLY WORK
The son of veteran actor James Brolin, Josh got off to a good start by proving he was good enough for the 80s fave THE GOONIES, then played the lead in the skateboarding drama THRASHIN and portrayed "Wild Bill" Hickok on three seasons of The Young Riders TV series.

Brolin was also a contender for the lead role on "21 Jump Street", but narrowly lost it to Johnny Depp.
After starting out as a mischievous underachiever in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S SENIOR TRIP, Renner made lots of TV appearances (Angel, CSI, The Net) before getting attention for his portrayal of sadistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the indie DAHMER.
COMIC BOOK ADAPTATIONs
Brolin strapped on his six-guns as the scarred Old West anti-hero JONAH HEX (based on the DC/Vertigo Comics character), and then offered an eerily precise version of young Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K in MEN IN BLACK 3 (a franchise based on a 1990 comic from indie publisher Aircel).
After briefly popping up as Hawkeye (aka S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Clint Barton) in Marvel's THOR, Renner joined the all-star superhero squad in the blockbuster THE AVENGERS.

Granted, Hawkeye may have spent most of the movie in the thrall of villain Loki, but THE AVENGERS remains the third-biggest movie of all time.
MAN OF ACTION
Besides MEN IN BLACK 3 and the generally scorned JONAH HEX, Brolin has:

- faced off against invisible lunatic Kevin Bacon in HOLLOW MAN

- played cat-and-mouse with Javier Bardem's coldblooded hitman in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

- joined up with Ryan Gosling as a 1940s cop in GANGSTER SQUAD

hammered his way to revenge in Spike Lee's remake of OLDBOY
In addition to demonstrating his bow skills in THE AVENGERS, Renner has:

- battled rage-infected humans in the sequel 28 WEEKS LATER

- dismantled explosives during the Iraq War in THE HURT LOCKER

- joined Tom Cruise's spy team in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL

- taken over for Matt Damon as a new rogue CIA operative in THE BOURNE LEGACY

- slaughtered hundreds of evil witches in HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS
SCUM AND VILLAINY
Brolin menaced Paul Walker and Jessica Alba as a rival salvager in INTO THE BLUE, got infected by a horrifying virus and tried to kill his cheating wife in GRINDHOUSE: PLANET TERROR, tried to strong-arm Russell Crowe as a corrupt cop in AMERICAN GANGSTER, gunned down gay rights activist Harvey Milk in MILK, continued Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good" motto as an oily hedge fund manager in WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS, and evaded Jeff Bridges' bounty hunter as a murderous outlaw in TRUE GRIT.

(Depending on your political perspective, you could also include Brolin's portrayal of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W. in this category.)
In addition to playing the infamous sadistic psychopath in DAHMER, Renner fired shots at Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell as a cop-turned-criminal in S.W.A.T., harassed Charlize Theron in NORTH COUNTRY, ruthlessly robbed banks with Ben Affleck in THE TOWN, and got pulled into Christian Bale's scam in AMERICAN HUSTLE (okay, he may have an unwitting participant, but... he's still a politician.)
MAJOR AWARD RECOGNITION
Oscar nomination for MILK

Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for AMERICAN GANGSTER and MILK

Screen Actors Guild Awards winner for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Outstanding Performance by a Cast)

Oscar nominations for THE TOWN and THE HURT LOCKER

Golden Globe nomination for THE TOWN

Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for THE TOWN and THE HURT LOCKER

Screen Actors Guild Awards winner for AMERICAN HUSTLE (Outstanding Performance by a Cast)
HIDDEN TALENT
Spends time as a swing trader in the stock market, and once said he makes more from that than his acting
Is a successful "house flipper", purchasing homes and making groovy renovations, then reselling for a tidy profit
UPCOMING PROJECTS
- SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
- INHERENT VICE
- EVEREST

Brolin takes over for Clive Owen as Dwight in the Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller SIN CITY sequel, and climbs the big mountain in the fact-based thriller EVEREST, but most enticing is a major role in filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling period crime tale INHERENT VICE, adapted from Thomas Pynchon's novel.
- KILL THE MESSENGER
- THE BOURNE WHATEVER
- THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Universal wants to keep the BOURNE name alive with Renner despite the lackluster LEGACY, and KILL THE MESSENGER is a modestly budgeted ensemble crime from Michael Cuesta, a director best known for cable work ("Six Feet Under", "Dexter", "Homeland"). But c'mon, regardless of the size of Hawkeye's role, is there anyone who doesn't welcome the next AVENGERS movie with massive amounts of anticipation?
IT'S A TIE!
Both Brolin and Renner always turn in solid performances, even when they're better than the movie itself and despite the fact that neither has been handed a statue for their efforts yet.

Brolin has been in the game a bit longer, but Renner has come on strong in the past few years, never missing an opportunity to jump into a major franchise. Sure, he may have gotten the shaft (pun intended) as underutilized costumed hero Hawkeye when the AVENGERS assembled, but just about any association with Marvel can be considered gold.

They each have plenty of talent, and mugs with lots of character. I like 'em both!

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+0
2:04AM on 03/06/2014
Brolin
Brolin
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+1
8:29PM on 02/03/2014

Renner FTW

Renner is the clear winner for me, both awards and action wise. He is a seriously talented actor, and really good in American Hustle. Renner makes good action films too, but Hawkeye really does need a heck of a lot more character development before he gets interesting, which I guess is really Wheadon's responsibility and not Renner's. I like Brolin alright tho; while I'd still say Renner is the winner here, I'd argue that Brolin is of similar caliber. Looking forward to Kill the Messenger,
Renner is the clear winner for me, both awards and action wise. He is a seriously talented actor, and really good in American Hustle. Renner makes good action films too, but Hawkeye really does need a heck of a lot more character development before he gets interesting, which I guess is really Wheadon's responsibility and not Renner's. I like Brolin alright tho; while I'd still say Renner is the winner here, I'd argue that Brolin is of similar caliber. Looking forward to Kill the Messenger, and Everest.
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12:51PM on 01/30/2014

Renner

A clear winner for major awards love. Also Kill the Messenger is one of my most anticipated films of 2014, a potential second leading actor nomination for Renner in a meaty, dramatic role and an amazing supporting cast. Also, because I am shallow, I am rather looking forward to more Avengers, Cross and Mission Impossible (hopefully). Love Brolin too.
A clear winner for major awards love. Also Kill the Messenger is one of my most anticipated films of 2014, a potential second leading actor nomination for Renner in a meaty, dramatic role and an amazing supporting cast. Also, because I am shallow, I am rather looking forward to more Avengers, Cross and Mission Impossible (hopefully). Love Brolin too.
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9:52AM on 01/30/2014

Brolin should win for Upcoming Projects

both these guys are bosses and im salivating for Avengers 2 but how big a part does Hawkeye play? Brolin's got the Sin City sequel and the next PTA flick, its not even a question who wins there.
both these guys are bosses and im salivating for Avengers 2 but how big a part does Hawkeye play? Brolin's got the Sin City sequel and the next PTA flick, its not even a question who wins there.
Your Reply:



7:44AM on 01/30/2014

Based on your assessment,

Jeremy Renner should have taken the Awards Consideration category, as he had more nominations. That would have given the win to Renner right there.
Jeremy Renner should have taken the Awards Consideration category, as he had more nominations. That would have given the win to Renner right there.
Your Reply:



7:15AM on 01/30/2014
This is actually tough for me, because while I like Brolin more, I think he has had terrible luck with his roles lately. More stuff like Milk (my personal favorite performance of his) or No Country would be good. On the other hand, Renner is still awesome, and probably picks better roles. Hmm. Can I agree that it's a tie?
This is actually tough for me, because while I like Brolin more, I think he has had terrible luck with his roles lately. More stuff like Milk (my personal favorite performance of his) or No Country would be good. On the other hand, Renner is still awesome, and probably picks better roles. Hmm. Can I agree that it's a tie?
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5:02AM on 01/30/2014
I don't think Renner should win the "Comic book adaptations" category. I'm not saying it's his fault that Hawkeye was so boring but you can't attribute the success of The Avengers to him. On the other hand, Josh Brolin imitated Tommy Lee Jones really well.
I don't think Renner should win the "Comic book adaptations" category. I'm not saying it's his fault that Hawkeye was so boring but you can't attribute the success of The Avengers to him. On the other hand, Josh Brolin imitated Tommy Lee Jones really well.
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5:13AM on 01/30/2014
His Tommy Lee Jones impression was uncanny and very entertaining. Easily the best thing about MIB 3.
His Tommy Lee Jones impression was uncanny and very entertaining. Easily the best thing about MIB 3.
3:32AM on 01/30/2014
Jeremy Renner for me and he kicks ass in S.W.A.T.
Jeremy Renner for me and he kicks ass in S.W.A.T.
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+7
2:50AM on 01/30/2014

Face Offs that result in ties are lame.

I think we've established this many times before in the Strikebacks. Although, I am happy to see the longer category list from last week carry over. For my money Renner wins hands down.
I think we've established this many times before in the Strikebacks. Although, I am happy to see the longer category list from last week carry over. For my money Renner wins hands down.
Your Reply:



+6
1:57AM on 01/30/2014
Interesting Face Off. Imma have to go with Brolin with overall work. But Renner was really great in American Hustle, especially over Cooper.
Interesting Face Off. Imma have to go with Brolin with overall work. But Renner was really great in American Hustle, especially over Cooper.
Your Reply:



1:37AM on 01/30/2014

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner gets my vote easily. The guy is fearless and is one of the best, most consistent character actors working today. Ever since Love Comes to the Executioner, SWAT, and 28 Weeks Later this guy has become one of my favorite actors and has given one of my favorite performances ever in The Hurt Locker.

I also thought he was the BEST part of American Hustle and that his character was the heart and soul of the film.

So yeah, Renner gets my vote. Easily.
Jeremy Renner gets my vote easily. The guy is fearless and is one of the best, most consistent character actors working today. Ever since Love Comes to the Executioner, SWAT, and 28 Weeks Later this guy has become one of my favorite actors and has given one of my favorite performances ever in The Hurt Locker.

I also thought he was the BEST part of American Hustle and that his character was the heart and soul of the film.

So yeah, Renner gets my vote. Easily.
Your Reply:



1:28AM on 01/30/2014
Right now, Brolin takes it for me as he's been around along and I was really entertained by his turn as George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W. It's not perfect (and it's interesting to imagine how Stone's original choice Christian Bale would've done it) but it's pretty darn good.
Right now, Brolin takes it for me as he's been around along and I was really entertained by his turn as George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W. It's not perfect (and it's interesting to imagine how Stone's original choice Christian Bale would've done it) but it's pretty darn good.
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