Oscar: Supporting actor

Why he’ll win: Brolin has been working tirelessly lately, receiving critical huzzahs for turns in “No Country for Old Men” and “American Gangster” in 2007 and “W.” and “Milk” in 2008. Some thought he would get a nod for “No Country” last year, and this could be a make-up for that omission. While James Franco received much of the supporting attention on “Milk” when the pic first opened, Brolin’s complex take on Dan White convinced the Acad that he was the more worthy choice.

Maybe not: No question about it, Sean Penn carries “Milk,” and if voters choose him as lead actor, they might want to spread the wealth and not select another thesp from the same film. Also, besides Michael Shannon, he’s in the least amount of scenes compared with the other noms in the category.

Critical quote:Josh Brolin is excellent as always as the enigmatic White, the man who seemed perfectly normal until he didn’t,” says Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times.

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