Audrey E., here….
Ryan Gosling is a true patron for the arts. Proof of this can not only be found in his selective partaking in films with telling characters, but also in his accomplished side projects. There’s his under-appreciated dark wave and gothic indie band, Dead Man’s Bones, and we can’t forget his courageous 2014 directorial debut in the fantasy drama, Lost River. He’s come a long way from his humble beginnings as a Mouseketeer on The All New Mickey Mouse Club, and despite the pressure from Hollywood to keep up appearances, Ryan concentrates on staying true to himself and what matters most: his art. Today I’ve put together a list of my Top 10 favorite Ryan Gosling performances in film and why this talented Canadian, a true 21st century James Dean, is more than meets the eye.
10) Movie: ‘The Believer’
Role: Danny Balint
Scene: In the opening scene of the film, Danny crosses paths with a Jew, his hatred boiling over as he coaxes the frightened man into a fight.
Why it’s good: The ease at which Ryan snaps from bully to savage is raw and domineering. His building intensity sets precedent for the rest of his stellar performance as a jew turned neo-nazi in this intelligent, psychological drama, which won the grand-jury prize at the 2001 Sundance film festival.
9) Movie: ‘The Nice Guys’
Role: Holland March
Scene: In this scene, Holland is being confronted and intimidated by Jackson Heely.
Why it’s good: Ryan’s grunting resistance and high pitched squeal is comedy gold. He proves that he’s not a one-trick drama pony and has bang-up comedic timing.
8) Movie: ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’
Scene: Romina finds Luke in her baby’s room, unannounced, trying to set up a crib for her baby.
Why it’s good: Ryan’s cold, psychopathic rage is unexpected and alarming. The way he swiftly clobbers a man with a wrench, then delicately picks up a child, leaves you distressed with a prickling feeling of dread.
7) Movie: ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’
Scene: In this scene, Jacob shows Hannah his “big move” after bringing home girls from a night at the bar.
Why it’s good: Here we get to witness Ryan’s irresistible charm, smoldering gaze and comedic diversity. It’s arguably the role that brought him to heartthrob status, and the start of his undeniable connection with Emma, which ultimately gave us the superb ‘La La Land’, which we’ll get to later!
6) Movie: ‘Blue Valentine’
Scene: Cindy reveals to Dean that she’s fallen out of love with him in their kitchen, and he tries to plead his case for saving their relationship.
Why it’s good: In this powerful scene, you feel Ryan’s desperation through his rattled body language and unruly tears. His transition from gloomy to tragic is difficult to watch, and his performance ultimately won him a golden globe nomination.
5) Movie: ‘The Notebook’
Role: Noah Calhoun
Scene: In this scene, Allie has just returned from a car ride and heart-to-heart with her mother. She’s finally been given the letters from Noah she thought were never written, and suddenly she finds herself torn between the love of two men.
Why it’s good: Ryan’s ability to portray a calamity of emotions is impressive. His restrained frustration and believable heartache quiver around the contours of his face. The authentic on screen chemistry between the two actors is what makes this Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation worthwhile and a modern romance classic.
4) Movie: ‘Half Nelson’
Role: Dan Dunne
Scene: One of Dan’s students catches him in the bathroom doing drugs.
Why it’s good: Ryan’s sweaty tension and paralyzed silence at the sight of his student is heavy. You can feel the stunned panic of his involuntary reveal, and his portrayal of a drug-addicted history teacher in this film won him his first academy award nomination.
3) Movie: ‘La La Land’
Scene: In this scene, Sebastian decides to take his chances and play one of his own tunes on the piano at a Jazz club, attracting the ear of a passerby, Mia.
Why it’s good: Ryan learned to play jazz piano specifically for this role. His musical talent is showcased throughout the film, but his handling of the piano in this scene creates a feeling of sublime euphoria. It’s pure magic.
2) Movie: ‘Lars & the Real Girl’
Scene: In this scene, Lars has decided that Bianca is dying and gives her an emotional farewell kiss.
Why it’s good: It’s no easy task for an actor to pull off an emotional scene and make it appear sincere, but add an inanimate sex doll into the mix? Brilliant. Ryan’s socially awkward and pure portrayal of a man in love with a doll is definitely one of his most underrated performances.
1) Movie: ‘Drive’
Scene: The driver has just stepped onto the elevator with his new love interest and neighbor, Irene, along with a mysterious stranger that he suspects is there to kill one of them.
Why it’s good: Ryan has a real talent for playing secretive, brooding characters and never is that more evident than in Drive. In just under a minute, he makes the viewer feel an arc of emotions without even uttering a word. From the pulsing back muscles that animate the scorpion on his jacket, to his adept glances and urgently romantic kiss, it’s nothing short of masterful.