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Best Ryan Gosling Movies

Updated on January 5, 2015

Although it has been nearly a decade since first making an impression on movie critics and film fans in 2001's The Believer, this past year, 2011, was the year that thrust Ryan Gosling into the wide scale public spotlight. In 2011, Gosling has starred in three higher profile films, Ides of March, Drive and Crazy, Stupid Love.

Prior to this year, his film selections had included mostly artistic, independent films with limited distribution. While wonderful films, it is no wonder that his rise to film stardom was slow, despite being nominated for several Academy Awards and Golden Globes along the way.

Most Gosling films have fallen into either the drama or crime drama genres, but as of late he has also starred in a couple of romantic comedies. In addition to his acting ability, he has also shown an uncanny ability to choose very good films. These abilities should continue to serve him well and he will likely collect many more Academy Award nominations in the future.

This ranking of the top ten Ryan Gosling films is based on all member rankings at Rankography top ten movies.

Guest Article by Brooklyn77

All rights reserved. Copyright 2012 Rankography

Plus 1 - All Good Things (2010)

A Legal Thriller Based on a True Story

Perhaps it's no coincidence that All Good Things is one of several films that has Ryan Gosling at the lead of a true story. Credit his everyman sensibility for blending into these roles with verisimilitude. All Good Things was a terrific, yet lesser known docu-thriller about New York real estate heir, David Marks (Gosling), who slowly begins to unravel and is ultimately investigated for the disappearance of his wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst). Gosling's portrayal of a burgeoning psychopath echoes the younger monster he played in Murder by Numbers.

The additional strong performance by his co-star Kirsten Dunst makes this one worthy of a much larger audience. Director Andrew Jarecki is excellent in his first feature film following up on his acclaimed documentary, Capturing the Friedmans.

This is a great Rankography discovery that I would highly recommend for legal thriller fans.

If you liked All Good Things... - You may also like Capturing the Friedmans

Capturing the Friedmans
Capturing the Friedmans

Winner of the 2003 Grand Jury prize at Sundance, this fascinating documentary about what appears to be a normal middle class family that are hiding some very dark secrets.


10. Remember the Titans (2000)

A Sports Thriller about Racial Relations and Teamwork

Remember the Titans is both an uplifting sports movie and a glimpse into a 1971 United States that is still racially divided. Set in a Virginia suburb of Washington DC, two high schools have been combined to overcome municipal shortfalls. One school is predominantly black and the other is mostly white and the year is seen through the lens of the TC William's (combined school) football team. Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) has been selected as the head coach of the combined team and was selected over the popular and successful white coach, Bill Yoast (Will Patton).

Yoast initially contemplates taking another head coaching position but decides to stay for his players who threaten to sit out if he is not the assistant coach. Boone must overcome the ire of Yoast, white parents and the general ire of the white community around TC Williams High School. Over time, Boone and Yoast develop mutual respect and admiration for one another as they and the team learn to work together.

While the story is based on real events, many of the films events are fictional to add tension and excitement. It is an amazing transformation to watch the players, that start out as enemies, come together, defend each other (against the community and opponents) and develop deep friendships.

Ryan has a small role in this film as one of the teams players, but it is an excellent film and one of the best uplifting sports movies.

If you enjoyed Remember the Titans... - You should also like Glory Road

Glory Road (Widescreen Edition)
Glory Road (Widescreen Edition)

While The Blind Side would be the obvious suggestion here, most have probably seen it. But most of you have probably not seen Glory Road which is the tremendous story of Texas Western University's unlikely National Championship win over Adolph Rupp's Kentucky team. It is a story of race and overcoming obstacles to persevere.


9. The Believer (2004)

A Powerful Early Gosling Role

The Believer introduced Ryan Gosling to a 2001 Sundance Film Festival audience with a performance so brazen and mesmerizing that it ultimately helped the film win the Festival's Grand Jury Prize. Gosling's role as a young neo-Nazi struggling with his Jewish lineage also captured the attention of both independent filmmakers and moviegoers.

With critics making comparisons to the equally strong performance of Edward Norton as a neo-Nazi in American History X, Gosling's portrayal of Daniel Blint show both sensitivity paired with brutal intensity. It lent credence to a character who is possessed by two identities; a hate monger and a Jew by ancestry. While this film did not catapult him to stardom, it certainly gave notice to the critics and serious film fans that Gosling had serious acting skills and was destined for a powerful film career.

If you were captivated by The Believer... - You should also see American History X

American History X
American History X

Edward Norton has so many amazing performances as an actor, and yet this is one of his best. If you have never seen this film, your really must. Norton plays a reformed neo-Nazi who has left prison and trying to turn his life around. However, at the same time he must try to stop his younger brother is racing down the path that he just left.


8. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

A Dramedy about A Guy and his Unusual Girlfriend

Who would have thought that a quirky tale of love and devotion between an odd young man, Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling), and a mail-order sex doll named Bianca would be loved by such a wide audience? This limited release independent comedy film only grossed $11 million at the box office but it developed a cult status since then and has developed an ardent following of devoted fans.

Considering the challenges of working with his inanimate co-star, Ryan Gosling's performance as the lovelorn Lars was justifiably awarded with a Golden Globe nomination. In the battle of best performances opposite a lifeless companion, Gosling shames Tom Hanks and his volleyball mate Wilson, from the bigger box office hit, Castaway.

This independent comedy also received one Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. If you have not seen this well written film, you should get it in your queue.

7. Blue Valentine (2010)

A Gripping Drama of Love and Love Lost

Blue Valentine is the heartbreaking story of precious romantic love cultivated during courtship and the dissolution of that love after years of marital toil. Word has it that co-star Michelle Williams had the script for this Indie drama was in her hands five years ago but could only recently get a studio to pick it up.

The wait was probably a good thing given the acting chops required of both co-stars in this largely improvised drama. The extra years of maturity were perfect for Gosling and Williams to provide their stunning performances. Gosling has excelled far beyond his years as an actor and this film is a shining example.

Derek Cianfrance's, Blue Valentine's Director, plans to reunite with Gosling in the upcoming crime drama film The Place Beyond the Pines. If Blue Valentine is an indication of what Cianfrance can get out of Gosling, we might put an early prediction on another Golden Globe nominaion.

Williams was nominated for an Academy Award for her leading role and both Gosling and Williams were nominated for Golden Globes in Blue Valentine

6. Ides of March (2011)

Ethics and Loyalty Front this Political Drama Thriller

In Ides of March, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is a junior campaign manager for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney), a front-running Democratic nominee for US President. This thought-provoking political drama begins by painting Morris as a squeaky clean, liberal idealist while Meyers naively believes that Morris 'must win' in order to right the United States. However as the campaign progresses, Myers learns of a career killing skeleton in Morris' closet and is faced with a difficult ethical choice that might affect both the outcome of a presidential election and Meyers' own political career.

Clooney also directed The Ides of March and has assembled a tremendous cast alongside he and Gosling, including Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei. While the film was marketed as a sort of political thriller, I found it to be much quieter and thoughtful, reminiscent of the character-driven American movies of the 1970s. The carefully written screenplay allows Clooney to craft a film that left me thinking about the ethical, moral and social issues long after film's end.

If you liked Ides of March...

Wag the Dog (New Line Platinum Series) (1997)
Wag the Dog (New Line Platinum Series) (1997)

This political satire is both a comedy and a serious drama about the difficulties of running for office.


5. Drive (2011)

A Psychological Suspense Thriller

Drawing many comparison's to a Michael Mann production, in Drive, Ryan Gosling takes a turn as the dark hero as a Hollywood stunt driver who also has a side gig as criminal getaway driver. Driver (Gosling) is a mysterious man who lives alone but who covets his neighbor, Irene (Cary Mulligan), who is raising her son alone while her husband is in prison. Driver's criminal activities are limited to driving in fast cars supplied by his boss and mentor, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), however his life takes a twisted turn when Irene's violent husband gets out of prison.

In this commanding and controlled performance, Gosling is able to convincingly convey his loyal disposition and lonely emotions with very little dialogue. Drive uses jarring, highly stylized violence as a stark contrast to the sparse narrative. It is such a strong, unique film I think it was overlooked in many of the Award categories for 2011's award season. It was only nominated for one Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

I would also highly recommend the ambient Drive movie soundtrack for lovers of Trent Reznor, Tangerine Dream, etc.

If you liked Drive... - You may also enjoy

Reservoir Dogs (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Reservoir Dogs (Two-Disc Special Edition)

This intriguing Quentin Tarantino film is an engrossing look at a heist gone bad. While some might call it overly violent, it was the seminal first film for directing icon, Quentin Tarantino.


4. Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Gosling Delivers in a Unique Comedic Role

Crazy Stupid Love was applauded by critics and mainstream moviegoers alike, a fairly unique accomplishment within the romantic comedy genre. Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) is a confident ladies man who becomes the self appointed wing man for the recently single and clueless dork, Carl Weaver (Steve Carrell). Together with an outstanding supporting cast, including Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon, these two weave a hilarious story trying to get Weaver 'back in the game'.

More mainstream than most of Gosling's films, Crazy Stupid Love was the second highest grossing film on his resume. This film might also be responsible for making a star out of another supporting character -- Gosling's chiseled six-pack abs. Staying true to his method style and devotion to his craft, word has it that Gosling specifically developed his upper torso to make his physique that much more appealing to Hannah (Emma Stone) in a very pivotal scene.

Ryan Gosling was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Comedic Actor Role which was impressive given all his previous accolades were as a dramatic actor.

3. Half Nelson

An Inspiring Story about Turning Your Life Around

Ryan Gosling earned his first Academy Award nomination in Half Nelson for his portrayal of a drug-addled junior high school history teacher and basketball coach in Brooklyn, NY. Dan Dunne (Gosling) strikes up a surprising friendship with one of his inner city students, Drey (Shareeka Epps), after she discovers his drug habit. While Dunne's life is in a shambles, he is a good teacher who uses unconventional methods to get through to his students.

Dunne and Drey develop a strong friendship based on mutual respect for each other. In a twist on the formulaic teacher-as-inspiring-mentor storyline, Half Nelson turns to formula around as Drey inspires Dunne to turn his life around with her patience and wisdom.

Gosling's performance is especially remarkable for the subdued grief and delicate emotional state he must carry throughout the film. Gosling was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this portrayal at the young age of 26.

If you enjoyed Half Nelson... - You might also like

The Basketball Diaries
The Basketball Diaries

A gripping tale about a high school basketball star who become addicted to heroin and ends up on the streets. Leo DiCaprio is incredible as the lead at a very young age.


2. Fracture (2007)

A Legal Thriller with Gosling Cast as a Young DA

No one could ever accuse Ryan Gosling of being typecast. He chosen roles across a wide spectrum of genres, who have operated on both sides of the law, and both heroes and villians. In the 2007 legal thriller, Fracture, Gosling pairs with Anthony Hopkins in a head to head battle of wits. Ted Crawford (Hopkins) is a wealthy and supremely intelligent structural engineer charged with killing his wife. Willy Beachum (Gosling) is the whip-smart District Attorney, hungry for a high profile conviction. Beachum feels there is more to the story than Crawford has told and engages in a battle of wits with the alleged murderer to ensure he does not escape on an unforeseeable loophole.

Fracture is one of those thrillers that begs for repeat viewings after dazzling viewers with interesting plot twists along the way. The commanding presence of a confident Beachum propels the story along and helps overcome any implausible plot contrivances.

1. The Notebook (2004)

A Beautiful Love Story that Spans a Generation

This warm, endearing romantic film is based on the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name. It is the tale of two young people from opposite sides of the track. Noah (Ryan Gosling) is a common man while Allie (Rachel McAdams) is a wealthy heiress. After they spend a summer together, Allie's parents forbid her from seeing Noah any farther. They send Allie to New York for school and intercept Noah's letters so that she does not receive them

Seven years later they come across each other, but Allie is now engaged to another man. What makes this movie even more intriguing is the flash forward to an elderly couple Allie (Gena Rowlands) and Duke (James Garner), but we do not know if Duke is Noah or Lon (Allie's fiancée 40 years earlier). This flash forwards and back create a suspenseful timeline that leaves us guessing the result of the plot lines.

This is a wonderful film and the entire cast, including Gosling, are outstanding.

Vote for the Best Ryan Gosling Films

Which of these is your favorite Ryan Gosling Movie?

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Any thoughts on this lens or Ryan Gosling Films ?

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    • Olivia Pellerito profile image

      Olivia Pellerito 

      4 years ago

      The Notebook is classic, but Blue Valentine is amazing too!!! I feel like no one knows that movie. It's a serious must watch for Ryan Gosling fans.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Nice lens, Ryan is such a talented and diverse actor. Drive and Stay are my favorites.

    • Uttervoid profile image


      5 years ago

      My favorite film by Ryan Gosling is Drive. I also like Half Nelson and Lars and the Real Girl. The Notebook and Fracture are too commercial for my taste.

    • Rankography profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: Thanks Julie for stopping by. You should check out Drive. He was very good in that without saying many words.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I absolutely adore Ryan Gosling ... he was mesmerizing in The Notebook. I'm looking forward to his latest flick.

    • Rankography profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Kalafina: Thanks much Kalafina

    • Kalafina profile image


      5 years ago

      I forgot to say! Blessed!

    • Kalafina profile image


      5 years ago

      Lars and the Real Girl is his best film acting wise (in my humble opinion) . It takes a lot of skill to treat a sex doll with legitimate love and respect!

    • Underrated profile image


      5 years ago

      Great young upcoming actor plus he seems like a really humble and nice person.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      5 years ago

      Great list.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The Notebook is the best movie ever..I like Crazy stupid love too.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The Notebook made me an instant Ryan Gosling fan and I see that I have some catching up to do on his movies....excellent reviews as always by you!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana

      I didn't know Ryan Gosling have made so many great movies. Gosh, I should cut down a little my time on the web and start going to the movies...

    • raelcalu profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice presentation...he is a great actor...i like him with ms. Williams on Blue Valentine.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Frankly haven't seen too many of Ryan's movies to comments. Should visit again to note a few!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love Notebook. Also Ides of March.

    • top101 profile image


      6 years ago

      I fell in love with him in the notebook :)


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