Handsome, charming, and charismatic, Ryan Gosling has made a lasting impression as a leading A-lister in Hollywood. Known for famous films like ‘Crazy, Stupid Love,’ ‘La La Land,’ and ‘The Notebook,’ Ryan Gosling is often celebrated for his brimming charisma and impeccable comic timing in these movies. However, it’s in the lesser-known films where you truly discover the depth of Gosling’s talent. From playing a drug-addicted teacher to portraying a man in a relationship with an inflatable doll, and even a self-hating Jewish neo-Nazi, he has taken on a wide array of challenging roles across different genres like crime, romance, drama, and sci-fi. In each of these roles, Gosling demonstrates exceptional acting skills, proving that there’s virtually no character he can’t bring to life on screen.”

“In a way, it’s the same thing you can say about a lot of the greatest film actors,” Damien Chazelle remarked in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, expressing his deep admiration for Ryan Gosling and the actor’s expressive capabilities. He highlighted a unique aspect of film acting that sets Gosling apart: the art of conveying a ton by seeming to do very little.  “Ryan is one of the handful of people today who have really mastered that art form,” Chazelle concluded. This understanding of Gosling’s talent sets the stage perfectly for delving into the Top 15 Ryan Gosling Performances, ranked to highlight the breadth of his skill over an impressive 20-year career. If you’re yet to be convinced of his versatility, this compilation will showcase the best of what Gosling has to offer, affirming Chazelle’s praise and revealing the multifaceted nature of Gosling’s film acting prowess.

15. Stephen Myers, THE IDES OF MARCH (2011)

Ryan Gosling Movies

“You exude something. You draw people in,” Paul Giamatti’s character says to Gosling’s Stephen in the George Clooney directed ‘The Ides of March,’ and he’s spot on about the actor and the character. In ‘The Ides of March,’ Gosling plays an upcoming hotshot junior campaign manager for the presidential elections who gets a taste of the dirty side of politics when he uncovers a scandal that could derail the campaign and his career and shake up the lives of everyone involved. The scandal not only upends Stephen’s optimism and confidence but also results in a total moral collapse of his idealism, giving birth to an evil and ruthless side unbeknownst to himself.

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Gosling’s subtle yet effective character work for Stephen might go unnoticed by some viewers, but the way his voice hardens, body language changes, and gaze intensifies aptly showcases the skills of an actor who completely embraces the grey shades of a man whose morals are questioned and shattered by a trident of power-hungry monsters. Acting opposite powerhouses such as Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and George Clooney, Gosling never looks out of place even for a minute and can stand out and soar above his otherwise ‘brooding, intense young man’ persona.

14. Officer K, BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

ryan gosling movies blade runner 2049

A sequel to Ridley Scott’s near-perfect 1982 sci-fi ‘Blade Runner’ was always going to be difficult, but finding the right actor to carry forward Harrison Ford’s ‘Rick Deckard’ was always the bigger challenge for anyone brave enough to make the sequel. But, in Ryan Gosling, Denis Villeneuve found the leading man for his film, with different sensibilities and pathos to that of Ford’s Deckard. Blade Runner 2049 is about what makes us humans and separates us from every other entity to exist, and how our choices define our identity and not by the form we exist in.

Officer K, played by Gosling, is a replicant police officer programmed to be a blade runner. K has qualities that make his character ruthless and emotionless yet poignant and force us to root for a character who is essentially not a human. There might not have been another actor better equipped to play K than Gosling. His display of emotions simmering underneath a stoic exterior with moments of rage and freakouts is a typical trait in his performances that translates to a level of intensity unmatched by many other actors.

Also, Read: 30 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century

13. Jared Vennett, THE BIG SHORT (2015)

Ryan Gosling rarely disappoints in a film, irrespective of the screen time he gets or the kind of character he plays, infusing the character with magnetism and wit that has become a trademark for the actor. In Adam McKay’s ‘The Big Short,’ a satire about the 2007 housing market crash, Gosling plays the role of a fast-talking, cocky, and self-centered Deutsche Bank salesman Jared Vennett who also serves as the narrator of the film and brings the audience into the world of stocks, bonds and a whole load of complicated financial terms in a role that could be defined as the ultimate finance-bro to ever exist.

This was a character written for an actor like Gosling, who could be the ultimate dork as well as the most intelligent man in the room and still make everything charming as hell. At this point, the words charming & Ryan Gosling should be declared synonyms because they always go hand in hand. With limited screen time, he can overpower acting powerhouses in this ensemble cast comprising of Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell & Jeremy Strong and lights up the screen with his idiosyncrasies once again establishing the fact that he is an actor who deserves more praise for the hard work and commitment he brings to each of the roles he portrays.

Also, Read: The 10 Best Movies About Money, Finance and Wall Street

12. Neil Armstrong, FIRST MAN (2018)

ryan gosling movies first man

In his second collaboration with director Damien Chazelle, Ryan Gosling plays one of his most unconventional roles as Neil Armstrong. It is a quiet, discreet yet haunting and moving performance that often goes unnoticed when his performances are analyzed. ‘First Man’ is far from being a cliched biopic. It is an intimate portrayal of Armstrong’s life. Gosling’s portrayal of an American hero is the farthest thing from a showy act, which is why it might have gone under the radar during the then Oscars season.

A man of deep thoughts, Armstrong is anxious yet determined. He is courting death every day with dangerous missions at NASA and is agonized by the news of dying colleagues often. First Man shows Armstrong as a regular man, consumed with the grief of a dead daughter, who is now very distant from his family. First Man is a spectacular movie for multiple reasons: an exceptional climax, Justin Hurwitz’s integral score, Claire Foy’s moving supporting act, and, most importantly, Gosling’s restrained and composed performance.

11. Jacob Palmer, CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (2011)

Ryan Gosling Movies_Crazy Stupid Love

Who would have thought that it would take Hollywood almost a decade to cast Ryan Gosling in a rom-com and let him flex (quite literally) his comedic chops as an actor? But with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ Gosling unleashed his funny side, and there couldn’t have been a better match than him and the comedy genre. A shift from his usual indie dramas and intense films, Jacob’s character allowed Gosling to reinvent himself and give birth to one of the best on-screen pairs alongside Steve Carell (Emma Stone & Gosling are good as well, though).

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His bromance with Carell’s ‘Cal’ was the show stealer in a film that was on autopilot at times and left a lot to be desired when it came to how it handled a lot of the subplots. He played a sort of mentor to Cal, a recently divorced middle-aged man, and helped him meet women and reinvent himself while simultaneously deciding to settle down with the enticing and fiery Hannah (Emma Stone). His repulsed, step-back-and-stare reaction to Cal’s velcro wallet has to be one of the best moments from the film as well as in Gosling’s career. The deadpan humor of Gosling hit all the right notes in this sometimes funny, sometimes dragged-out ensemble comedy and provided him with a stepping stone to move forward to more diverse & acclaimed comic roles in the future.

10. Driver, DRIVE (2011)

Drive is the quintessential Ryan Gosling movie, a stylish, pulsating neo-noir about a stunt driver and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver backed by adrenaline-pumping techno-styled music. This film catapulted Ryan Gosling as a reliable A-List leading man and gave birth to the cool guy Gosling, and he has never looked as handsome as he did in Drive with the Scorpio bomber jacket and leather hand gloves.

He plays the sigma male, whose brooding and intense look packs a sense of loneliness & resentment. Moreover, he brings his trademark characteristics to the forefront in a perfect blend of violence and romance that lingers on the periphery at all times, waiting for a trigger to be unleashed upon the characters and the audience. He only gets a handful of lines in the film, but his facial expressions easily navigate the character arc he goes through, from a quiet & mysterious individual to one who deeply cares about his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young kid Benicio (Kaden Leos). With striking visuals, a haunting score, and gruesome violence, Drive is the perfect mix of style meets substance, with a brilliant Gosling at the center to take the film to its bloody crescendo.

Also, Read: Every Nicolas Winding Refn Film Ranked

9. Sebastian, LA LA LAND (2015)

Ryan Gosling Movies_ La La Land

Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone shared the screen for the third time in Damien Chazelle’s ode to the classic musicals in this film about two Angelenos struggling to achieve their dreams. La La Land was the Academy’s darling of the year, and rightly so, with breathtaking visuals, great direction, and outstanding performances. While Emma Stone’s Best Leading Actress win at the Oscars cemented her place in history, her co-star Ryan Gosling’s performance as Sebastian, an optimistic & idealistic pianist who decides to let go of his traditionalistic approach in order to achieve his dreams, went a little under the radar at the time.

Gosling infused a lot of charm and life in a character whose growth was limited and rarely explored, unlike his female counterpart. While Stone did a lot of heavy lifting in the film, Gosling ensured his comic timing, and the dove-eyed look made the character endearing enough for the audiences to love and immature enough to despise at certain moments. Not only did he do his own singing in the film, but he also put his dancing skills to use like never before in a film. Though doubts and failure in their careers rip apart their relationship, there’s admiration for the time spent, love shared, and memories treasured, as evident by the subtle smile on his face as he sees Mia years later in his club, the signature Gosling stare that leaves the audience in awe of his greatness.

Also, Read: The 10 Best French Musicals

8. Luke Glanton, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (2012)

ryan gosling movies the place beyond the pines

Ryan Gosling’s second collaboration after Blue Valentine with director Derek Cianfrance is a moving drama about class, crime, and fate intertwining two families in a lifelong trauma.  Ryan Gosling, who goes by the name ‘Handsome Luke,’ is somewhat of a small-scale celebrity stunt rider who travels with fairs from town to town. After meeting with a former lover, Luke realizes that he has a son, and the inherent need to provide for his newfound family drives him to dangerous bank robberies.

Gosling was the heart and soul of the film, which appeared to be quite lack luster after the exit of his character. The Place Beyond the Pines might not be his best work yet, but it is definitely one of the most grounded ones. It’s a beautiful and controlled display that lasts just a third of the film yet overshadows everything that comes next. Ryan Gosling gives enough to make you smile, bring tears to your eyes, and make you root for a robber in his 45-minute-long performance, which remains one of his best to date.

Also, Read:10 Movies With A Surprising Second Half

7. Noah Calhoun, THE NOTEBOOK (2004)

Ryan Gosling Movies

The Notebook was the film that not only cemented Ryan Gosling’s status as an A-lister in Hollywood movies but also established him as a romantic eye candy and a heartthrob. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook chronicles the life of Noah, who falls for a beautiful heiress, Allie, at a young age in South Carolina. Belonging to a working-class family, he struggles to keep his love story afloat. Relentless determination and undying romanticism are what make Noah stand out in this somewhat cliched’ story. Thanks to the impeccable chemistry between the leads and an adorable old-school charm, The Notebook evaded the fate of every other romantic adaptation and left a lasting impression in the history of romantic dramas.

This film introduced Ryan Gosling’s charm and magnetic charisma to a larger audience and made him every teenager’s celebrity crush. The Notebook will remain one of Gosling’s most remembered films. After all, who can forget him drenched in the rain saying, “I wrote you every day for a year … it wasn’t over … it still isn’t over.”

6. Lars Lindstrom, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (2007)

ryan gosling movies lars and the real girl

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Apart from the undeniable charm that Ryan Gosling brings to his roles in various movies, there’s a distinctive quality that sets him apart from his peers. He can make any role endearing and provide tenderness to characters who might feel absurd from the get-go. His quirkiness makes those characters believable, and one such character is that of Lars, a socially awkward man who struggles to connect with his brother and sister-in-law, co-workers, and fellow townspeople. His struggle to build connections leads him to bring home an inflatable doll (Bianca) and begin a relationship with her, a way to somehow form a meaningful relationship with somebody.

Gosling plays Lars with such commitment that you can’t help but fall for his innocence and empathize with his struggles. As you become a part of the fantastical world of Lars, where Bianca comes to life, you start playing along for the sake of the man whom you have grown to care for. Gosling allows Lars to slowly open up to his peers, smile with them, chat with them, and even show the anger that he has within. The scene where Lars declares that Bianca is in her final moments and shares a last embrace near the lake shatters your heart into pieces but provides hope for a better tomorrow for Lars. The balancing act of oddness and affability that Gosling pulls off makes Lars and the Real Girl such a heartwarming watch.

Also, Read – The 10 Best Brad Pitt Movies

5. Holland March, THE NICE GUYS (2016)

The Nice Guys

IIn this buddy-cop comedy set in the 1970s, Ryan Gosling delivers a memorable performance as Holland March, a run-down private eye tasked with finding a young woman named Amelia. His co-star, Russell Crowe, plays Jackson Healy, a hired enforcer with a penchant for violence. The sight of Ryan Gosling in floral shirts and flared trousers is a delight, highlighting his versatility in movies. His comedic timing and deadpan humor in this role are nothing short of pure gold. Gosling and Crowe, in what will be remembered as one of the most hilarious buddy pairings in recent movies, complement each other perfectly, ensuring the audience is left in splits every time they appear on screen.

With this film, Gosling proves how far he can push himself when given the chance, as his physical comedy and reactions are unmatched. His expressions in the toilet scene, trying to keep the door open with all his might, is simply comedic genius. With exceptional screenplay, unique direction, and undeniably amazing performances by the leads, The Nice Guys has to be one of the most rewatchable films in Gosling’s career.

Also, Read – 10 Films To Watch When You’re Stoned

4. Danny Balint, THE BELIEVER (2001)

Ryan Gosling Movies The Believer

Believe me when I say this: I wouldn’t have watched The Believer with any other actor in it, apart from Ryan Gosling. The Believer has to be the most difficult to watch from his filmography and portrays Gosling as an actor whose performance overpowers his natural charm & allure. The film deals with nebulous themes of identity, religious beliefs, and self-hate, which can often throw you off on the first watch. Gosling is Danny Balint, a self-loathing Jewish Neo-Nazi who threatens a New York Times reporter to commit suicide if his identity as a Jewish man is revealed.

In flashbacks, as a bright Yeshiva student, Danny often argues with his teachers and debates about God, calling him ‘a conceited bully’. Years later, Danny, along with a gang of violent skinheads, plans to kill Jews in 1960s New York. At the mere age of 19, Gosling gave this shocking performance, which will make you hate his guts, especially when he rebukes and blames the father (in his old age) of an infant son murdered brutally by the Nazis. Gosling brilliantly portrays Danny’s anger and self-hatred in a raw, unsettling, yet most complex and unpredictable performance.

Also, Read: 10 Best Tom Hardy Performances

3. Dean, BLUE VALENTINE (2010)

ryan gosling movies blue valentine

Blue Valentine is devastatingly real & poignant in its portrayal of a marriage on the verge of ending. But what went wrong? There’s no answer to that question because we don’t know; maybe no one does. This indie drama captures the struggles that go on behind closed doors when two people fall out of love with each other. Gosling’s ‘Dean’ & Michelle Williams’ ‘Cindy’ share a relationship filled with sparks as they meet, a chance encounter that turns into something meaningful as things start to go out of hand for both of them and they haphazardly decide to get married, believing they have what it takes to navigate married life.

Both the lead actors went to great lengths to bring authenticity to the role by renting an apartment together and playing out the arguments of a couple who are slowly falling out of love. Gosling has played similar characters numerous times, but the nuances of Dean, the obliviousness & stillness in the character’s older version, are brought out beautifully as he feels that growth isn’t necessary, and if he loves her the same way, it will all be fine. The calm demeanor, sudden outbursts of anger, and sadness are all there for you to see and feel with. Gosling’s charming self comes to the forefront as he tries his best to win over Williams’ Cindy in a sequence that was completely improvised by the pair on the spot, along with a beautiful yet heartbreaking melody by Gosling.

2. Ken, BARBIE (2023)

Barbie_Ryan Gosling

Over the years, Ryan Gosling has cemented himself as one of the most charming actors in contemporary movies, taking a significant leap forward with his latest film, ‘Barbie.’ In his first-ever collaboration with a female director, Greta Gerwig, he plays the role of Ken, a charming blonde himbo who tries to rid himself of Barbie’s shadows by introducing patriarchy into the Barbie land. Gosling is the epitome of male frivolity as he dances, sings, and entertains in his fake tan and a mink coat, making his way straight into the audience’s hearts. Even though he plays somewhat of a villain, he is not unlikable for once. His vulnerability and innocence are heartwarming, and you will cheer with all your might when he says, “I’m just Ken, and I’m enough!”

Gosling has been generating considerable Oscar buzz for his role as Ken in his latest movie, thanks to his impeccable comic timing and iconic performance. This buzz could lead to his third nomination at the Academy Awards. As we await the results, there’s growing anticipation to see if Gosling’s thrillingly infectious ‘Kenergy’ in this film will finally secure him a much-deserved and long-awaited Oscar win. His journey in movies has been marked by versatile performances, and an Oscar would be a fitting acknowledgment of his talent and contribution to the film industry.

Also, Read: 10 Best Greta Gerwig Movies as a Writer, Director and Actor

1. Dan Dunne, HALF NELSON (2006)

Before he captivated audiences with his ‘Kenergy,’ donned the iconic scorpion bomber jacket, and showcased his smooth dance and piano playing skills in other notable movies, Ryan Gosling delivered what many consider his best performance to date in Ryan Fleck’s ‘Half Nelson.’ In this film, he portrays a self-destructive, drug-addicted teacher whose profound knowledge is tinged with existential despair. As a competent teacher yearning for deeper human connections and struggling to find meaning in life, Gosling’s portrayal of Dan is a masterclass in acting. The character is likable yet emotionally vulnerable, trapped in a continuous downward spiral, demonstrating Ryan Gosling’s ability to bring complex characters to life in his movies.

His brilliant screen presence and natural charisma shine through a character who packs a lot within, ready to explode and bring about carnage and repressed emotions. Gosling is equally adept at portraying the various emotions Dan goes through and provides him with delicate tenderness through his long glare, helpless stares, and lively personality. The relationship and camaraderie he shares on screen with Drey (Shareeka Epps) prove to be some of the most heartfelt and genuine scenes in the film, where he slowly learns to form a connection that helps him stay afloat even at his worst. The performances deservedly bagged him his first Best Actor nomination at the Oscars & probably announced his arrival in Hollywood as a serious actor who is destined for greatness.

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