Critics' year-end lists are beginning to trickle out and that's a good thing for a number of movies vying for your attention. One benefactor may just be Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice." The critically acclaimed film (which is almost un-categorizable) also hits Los Angeles and New York on Dec. 12. That might be just enough time to pump up the film's deserved awards season prospects.*

*And it has already been named one of the top 10 films of the year and earned Anderson a Best Adapted Screenplay honor from the National Board of Review.

As I noted after first seeing "Vice" earlier this month, if anyone deserves a nomination for this movie it's Josh Brolin. The "No Country For Old Men" star is simply superb (and hilarious) as the increasingly off-kilter LAPD detective Bigfoot Bjornsen, a man who has a very passive aggressive relationship with the film's "hero," Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix). Like Tilda Swinton in "Snowpiercer," J.K. Simmons in "Whiplash" or Jessica Chastain in "A Most Violent Year," it's the sort of supporting performance that walks that line of almost stealing the picture.  

Brolin is no stranger to working with great filmmakers such as Oliver Stone ("W."), the Coen brothers ("No Country"), Gus Van Sant ("Milk"), Woody Allen (twice), Ridley Scott ("American Gangster"), Spike Lee ("Oldboy") and even a young David O. Russell back in the day ("Flirting With Disaster"). How does Paul Thomas Anderson differentiate himself from his peers?

"Family," Brolin says speaking with HitFix in November. "He makes it very personal. I mean working with Woody Allen, you really want to please. There’s a mentor thing going on. It’s history and all that kind of stuff that you just can’t get away from."

Anderson is different. Brolin notes, "It’s like a brother who you decided to do a film with. And he knows you so well. For some reason you don’t even understand why and [he] knows that your capacity is larger than what you thought it was. Whether it’s organic or caricature, if you’re not reaching that place that he knows you can reach, that you don’t even know, he’ll tell you. He’s very straightforward. It’s a familial feeling."

Because it's an Anderson film, however, more is expected from you.

"The creative expectation is very, very on a high," Brolin says. "You don’t come in there not having come up with something. And he wants it. He demands it."

Collaboration is part of the process, thankfully, and Bigfoot's distinct, almost out-of-era look was something both Anderson and Brolin didn't agree upon until the last minute. Well, perhaps last 15. 

With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.