It seems Ryan Gosling is constantly relevant these days, as not too long ago he was promoting a clever buddy cop comedy The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and now he’s back in the limelight with La La Land co-star, Emma Stone.
The two have teamed up twice before in Crazy, Stupid Love and Gangster Squad and seem to have worked their magic again in their most recent professional endeavor:
While Gosling is hot right now due to his latest work, there’s a decent chance you actually haven’t seen the best of him yet. That’s partially because Gosling is just 35 years old and his true “best” has yet to come, but it’s also because he may have some gem roles that have slipped through the cracks.
Maybe you’re a die hard Gosling fan and you’ve seen every role he’s ever taken. Perhaps you’re looking for a Ryan Gosling movie to watch or maybe you literally just learned who Ryan Gosling is. Whatever the case, we watched these five Ryan Gosling movies and although they’re a little to the side of bigger Hollywood successes, his performance (or the movie itself) are worth checking out.
You won’t find The Notebook or many of his recent roles here. This is a dive into Gosling’s earlier career, where some true acting gems arguably lie:
Drive – Driver (2011)
If you’re in search for the best Ryan Gosling movies, look no further. This list is chronological starting with his most recent work that fits our criteria, and it’s quite arguably the best.
The film itself is dark and methodic and also features stirring performances from Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Carey Mulligan, but Gosling’s stoic, yet powerful performance of a stunt driver gone rogue by night may ultimately go down as his best ever.
Drive may not be your cup of tea due to some rough violence and a slow pace, but Gosling kills this role and comes off as a bit of a protective badass. We don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re into movies that provide a nice build up and seek top notch acting performances, this is one (92% critic rating at RottenTomatoes.com) to check out for sure.
Fracture – Willy Beachum (2007)
Four years before Drive, Ryan Gosling played one of his best roles that perfectly displayed his young, brash and confident personality. Gosling’s take of lawyer Willy Beachum analyzed a hot shot lawyer’s persona as he meets an impossible case and has to match wits with a seemingly wiser old man played by Anthony Hopkins.
This movie is intense and moves at a strong pace, while also providing a stellar ending that really throws you for a loop. The best part may be the evolution of Gosling’s character in this one, however, as he starts off as a stripped down caricature of what a young, successful lawyer might be but unravels into something else entirely right before your very eyes. Fracture got a solid 71% critic rating at RT and is very much worth a viewing.
Half Nelson – Dan Dunne (2006)
We did say that Gosling’s run as the Driver in Drive could be his best work, but since we’re going back in time with each Ryan Gosling film we touch on, we’ll cheat a little bit and say this one could easily contend for that label, as well.
Half Nelson (90% grade on RT) by itself is a fantastic film that explores numerous layers of it’s characters. Gosling plays teacher Dan Dunne, who is caught up in the frenzied world of trying to do right by his students and also keep his head above water thanks to a crippling drug addiction.
Some used to say that guys like Paul Newman and Brad Pitt got by for much of their careers due to their good looks and some might even say that about Gosling. This list refutes that completely, however, and his portrayal of a troubled teacher might be one of the best examples. Half Nelson isn’t fast-paced and you aren’t always on Goslin’s side, but it is extremely fulfilling in the end.
Stay – Henry Letham (2005)
If you want a Ryan Gosling movie where he’s borderline emo and strangely suicidal, Stay is right up your alley. If you also like Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts and don’t mind a movie playing with your heart and mind strings, Stay will go over and beyond your wildest expectations.
The movie itself keeps you guessing to the very end and while it’s woeful 27% Rotten Tomatoes score might have left you off it’s scent in the past, Ryan Gosling’s individual performance should pull you back in for a watch. He’s younger and a little more over the top, but this movie sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the final sappy moments.
We’d give you more story to work with here, but Stay is a bending enigma that doesn’t allow clues or much detail. You’ll just have to experience it yourself.
The United States of Leland – Leland P. Fitzgerald (2003)
Here is Ryan Gosling’s first turn as a bad guy you don’t really understand and also could be defined as a quiet monster. You ultimately can make your own judgment call on Leland’s motives and actions, but there is never going to be any denying of Gosling’s powerful performance and the messages intertwined in a fairly underrated film.
The United States of Leland details a brutal child murder and the reasoning behind it, combined with exploitation and the complications of emotions involved. The critics loathed it, but an 81% audience score backs up what we’re selling: this is one of Ryan Gosling’s best movies ever and you need to see it.
The Believer – Danny Balint (2001)
Again, this isn’t a Ryan Gosling movie ranking, but we somehow landed on what we believe is his most powerful role in his entire career.
In The Believer, Gosling plays the troubled Danny Balint, a Jewish Nazi who has grown up in the Jewish faith and turns against it with every fiber of his being. Balint’s harsh character is tough to side with – much less look at – for much of the film, but there is a soft inner core just waiting to be unleashed and The Believer trickles that out enough to keep you engaged.
While the flow of the movie helps tell an interesting story and brings a character full circle, it’s Ryan Gosling’s layered and complex portrayal that really sells it. The Believer is dark, uncomfortable and moving and it’s without a doubt one of Ryan Gosling’s best acting performances – if not the best. The critics at RT agree, scoring it at 82%.
There you have it – five Ryan Gosling movies you may not have seen yet, but definitely need to. It’s crazy how Gosling is just 35 and has had so much success, but it’s even crazier that, as young as he is, there’s a decent chance some of his best performances have gone unseen by avid acting and movie lovers.
If you like Gosling or simply enjoy great movies and/or top notch acting, be sure to add these five Ryan Gosling films to your queue in the near future.
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