Ryan Gosling Top Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Gangster Squad star.
5. The Believer
Less than a decade removed from his early career as a children's TV fixture on shows like Young Hercules and the mid-1990s Mickey Mouse Club revival -- and just a year after popping up briefly in Remember the Titans -- Gosling scored the lead role in Henry Bean's The Believer, a harrowing dramatization of the incredible life story of Jewish Neo-Nazi Daniel Burros. While Gosling's character in the film achieves a somewhat happier ending than the real-life Burros, who shot himself after his heritage was publicly revealed, that doesn't make the rest of The Believer any easier to watch -- and neither does it detract from Gosling's searing performance. "It's blunt, controversial and never takes the easy road through its themes and situations," observed Rich Cline of Shadows on the Wall. "It's also profoundly moving."
Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign may not have amounted to much besides a lot of mocking soundbites from pundits, but it did provide the inspiration for Beau Willimon's well-reviewed play Farragut North -- which, in turn, inspired George Clooney to adapt its script into the screenplay for The Ides of March, a solidly reviewed 2011 political drama about, as Willimon put it, "the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it." While it wasn't exactly a blockbuster, Ides outperformed at the box office considering its Beltway subject matter -- and it found no shortage of critical accolades for Clooney (who starred, directed, and earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay), Gosling (who picked up another Golden Globe nomination for his work as a conflicted campaign manager), or the film itself. As Charlie McCollum put it for the San Jose Mercury News, "This is intelligent filmmaking, and a provocative moral fable. It may not be perfect, but it stands as one of the better, most realistic movies about the way we elect our leaders."
Writer/director Derek Cianfrance struggled for years to find funding for Blue Valentine, but his faith was handsomely rewarded when the film's sensitive, non-linear portrayal of a young urban couple's courtship and divorce ended up earning some of the most passionate critical accolades of 2010 -- including a Golden Globe nomination for Gosling and an Academy Award nomination for Michelle Williams. Boasting improvised dialogue and appropriately raw performances, Valentine enraptured critics like Mike Scott of the Times-Picayune, who observed, "It's at its root a hard-to-resist character study. That's because the character being studied is you and me and everyone else who has ever fallen in, and out of, love."
2. Half Nelson
Gosling earned an Academy Award nomination for his work in this Sundance favorite, a piercing drama about a middle-school teacher whose worsening drug problem complicates -- and serves as an unlikely basis for -- his friendship with a student (Shareeka Epps) who's facing her own substance-related struggles. Though it was far from a big hit at the box office, Half Nelson proved definitively that its star could carry more than just handsomely lensed weepies like The Notebook -- and it proved an instant favorite for critics like Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press, who wrote, "Although the subject promises more than the film can deliver, there is compensation in Gosling's convincing, unromanticized portrayal of someone seeking escape from longing and loss that neither he nor the movie can really define."
He didn't have much dialogue -- or even really a name -- but Ryan Gosling's character in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive came equipped with enough cool to rock a satin scorpion jacket -- and enough hard-won knowledge of the L.A. underworld to try and make a difference in the lives of his alluringly sad neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her recently returned ex-con husband (Oscar Isaac). Sleek, dark, and stylish, Drive doled out a heaping helping of action thrills without sacrificing smarts or character; as Jason Best put it for Movie Talk, "From its opening shots, Refn's movie is as cool and controlled as its protagonist... at once unhurriedly stylish and intensely gripping. You'd like to lean back and admire, but the action keeps pulling you to the edge of your seat."
In case you were wondering, here are Gosling's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:
1. The Notebook -- 85%
2. Lars and the Real Girl -- 83%
3. Half Nelson -- 82%
4. The Believer -- 82%
5. The United States of Leland -- 81%
6. Crazy, Stupid, Love. -- 80%
7. Drive -- 78%
8. Blue Valentine -- 75%
9. The Ides of March -- 73%
10. Fracture -- 71%
Finally, here's Mr. Gosling (and a couple other no-name Mouseketeers) letting all the ladies know that he will cry for you: