Ryan Gosling is the Hollywood heartthrob of his generation.
And over Gosling’s nearly three-decade career (he’s been acting since he was eight), he’s proven that he’s also one of the best actors of his generation.
Ryan Gosling became America’s boyfriend when “The Notebook” came out in summer 2004. But Gosling had actually been around for quite some time before then, including a role in 2000’s “Remember the Titans,” and a chilling role as a Neo-Nazi in 2001’s “The Believer.”
“The Notebook” made him a star, but his meaty roles in small, thoughtful films like “Lars and the Real Girl,” showed that he’s much more than a pretty face.
He’s fully invested in playing the hot love interest in films like “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” but he’s also interested in showing off his subtle and seemingly effortless acting style in ambitious, stylish films like “Drive,” “The Place Beyond the Pines,” and “La La Land.”
In anticipation of his next big movie, “Blade Runner 2049,” in theatres Friday, we ranked our favourite major Gosling performances from worst to best.
Here are all of Ryan Gosling’s major performances, ranked:
This stylish, violent, and unmemorable film tries so hard to be 'Chinatown' meets 'L.A. Confidential,' that even its star-studded cast fail to sell it. Ryan Gosling isn't bad here, but he can usually save a mediocre movie and an undeveloped character with his charm. But he doesn't save the day in 'Gangster Squad,' perhaps due to the clunky dialogue that's ridden with cliches and impossible to sell for any actor.
'Song to Song,' from legendary filmmaker Terrence Malick, is a beautiful-looking disaster. The pretentious love story about musicians in Austin, Texas, is so caught up in its stunning visual filmmaking that the plot is awful, the characters lazy, and the performances, including Gosling's, forgettable. We completely forgot this movie (which was released in March 2017) ever happened, and it also starred Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett, which says enough on its own.
This straight-forward but edgy psychological thriller from director Marc Forster ('World War Z') and writer David Benioff ('Game of Thrones') follows a suicidal man played by Gosling, who taunts his psychologist (Ewan McGregor), who just survived an awful car accident. Like many of Gosling's earlier films, this isn't great, but he's good in it, playing very well against McGregor and Naomi Watts. There are other older Gosling films that are more worth your time.
Ryan Gosling plays one of two teens (the other played by Michael Pitt of 'Boardwalk Empire' fame) who commit the perfect murder just to prove that they can get away with it. It's a bad movie with terrible dialogue, but it proved that Gosling isn't just a pretty boy: he can be menacing, manipulative, and creepy, too. 'Murder By Numbers' also introduced Gosling to Sandra Bullock. They fell in love on set and dated for a bit.
Unfortunately Gosling's second project with his 'Drive' director, Nicolas Winding Refn, didn't go as well. Something was missing from the narrative and from Gosling's one-note character, proving that charms and stylish visuals can't save you every time.
Ryan Gosling only has a minor role in this movie, but it's notable since his performance as linebacker Alan Bosley gave him more exposure than ever, and paved the way for bigger roles in bigger movies to come.
'The Place Beyond the Pines' is a great example of Ryan Gosling saving a movie from itself. This overly ambitious movie is Gosling's second collaboration with 'Blue Valentine' director Derek Cianfrance. Loaded with themes, busy sequences, and storylines, Gosling shows another new side of himself with his portrayal of a man who commits a crime to support his child.
Ryan Gosling plays a character 'loosely' based on Robert Durst, the murderer and subject of HBO's hit docuseries, 'The Jinx.' 'All Good Things' came out five years before 'The Jinx,' when people weren't as familiar with Durst. Really, the only difference between Gosling's character and Robert Durst is that they have different names. Though the movie isn't one of his best, he's just as creepy and captivating as Durst himself.
By the time 'Fracture' came out, Ryan Gosling had already gotten his first Oscar nomination for 'Half Nelson,' which definitely helped the mediocre legal drama market itself as something more. While 'Fracture' has a loaded plot that doesn't really come together by the end, you kind of forget that you don't know what's going on because Gosling and Anthony Hopkins are so incredible. You can feel the tension in every scene between the two, even scenes that don't make much sense. At the time, it was shocking and thrilling to see this young actor mostly known for 'The Notebook' face off against the great Anthony Hopkins, and do it so well. The film also features another rising star -- Rosamund Pike, who got an Oscar nomination for her work in the 2014 film 'Gone Girl.'
This sappy, manipulative, mediocre romantic drama based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name would have faded into obscurity, like every other Sparks adaptation, if it didn't star Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, whose captivating performances made the lazy writing and central love story believable. Because of them, 'The Notebook' is an iconic romantic movie that even the most cynical people enjoy. After not getting along on-set, Gosling and McAdams had an off-screen romance for a few years.
'The Ides of March' is another average movie taken many levels higher due to Gosling's presence among some amazing actors, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, and Marisa Tomei. Anyone can have chemistry with George Clooney, but Ryan Gosling gives the classic Clooney charm a run for its money here. His performance also makes this honestly kind of boring, expected political drama way more thrilling than it should be.
'Blade Runner 2049' is all about the stunning visuals and thrilling sci-fi mystery thanks to the work of cinematographer Roger Deakins and director Denis Villeneuve. And Ryan Gosling lets them shine larger than his performance here, unlike his co-star Jared Leto. His cool, quiet performance is reminiscent of his work in 'Drive,' and shows the heavy influence of Harrison Ford's in the original 1982 film.
'Crazy, Stupid, Love' is a charming movie that wouldn't have worked without its star-studded cast which included Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, and Marisa Tomei. Gosling plays an anti-monogamy womanizer who's finally falling in love with a woman (while blindingly coaching her newly separated father on how to be a player like he is). Gosling proved he can carry a comedy, and his chemistry with Carell likely helped prepare him for their excellent work four years later in 'The Big Short.'
'The Big Short' could've been a terrible movie, or a terribly boring one. But director Adam McKay (of 'Anchorman' fame) turned it into something great by casting Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt in this comedy about the housing crisis. Normally a movie about such a dark time in history would be a drama or a comedy that's trying way too hard, but McKay gives the actors room to play, and Gosling does some of his best work, reminding the world once again that he is not only attractive and good at acting, but is funny as well.
'Lars and the Real Girl' could've easily been a forgettable movie that mocked its main character, Lars. But Gosling brings the great script and his character Lars to life with his endearing performance that's hilarious and profoundly sad. 'Lars and the Real Girl' is a sweet little movie transformed by Gosling's performance, which makes Lars' delusional relationship with a doll real, heartbreaking, and funny all at once.
Yes, Ryan Gosling played a Neo-Nazi. Actually, a former Jewish yeshiva student who becomes a Neo-Nazi. Many consider 'The Believer' Gosling's break-out role. Gosling gave his all to this role, and the results show: he delivered an arresting performance and managed to make his self-hating character sympathetic.
Ryan Gosling stars opposite Russell Crowe in this police drama set in Los Angeles during the 1970s. Gosling and Crowe get wrapped up in a sprawling conspiracy while investigating the alleged suicide of a once-prominent female porn star. Gosling is hilarious in this surprising and quite violent comedy-mystery. What's even more surprising is Gosling's sparkling comedic chemistry with Crowe, which made Crowe incredibly likeable for the first time in years.
This isn't Ryan Gosling's most groundbreaking work, because this role was almost too perfect for him. He plays this so well that it doesn't feel like he's even acting, and once again he lets his costar and very frequent coworker Emma Stone steal the show. Stone and Gosling were both nominated for Oscars for their roles in 'La La Land,' and Stone won. Ryan Gosling may not have saved jazz, but this role allowed him to show off all of his acting strengths including his gift of song.
Ryan Gosling, pun intended, drives this film, which would have been dull without his chilling and fully-committed but quiet performance. Gosling plays the driver, an unnamed Los Angeles man, who is a car stuntman by day and a heist getaway driver by night. He's creepy, mysterious, sexy, and menacing in a role that combines a lot of traits in his previous roles into one.
'Half Nelson' is the first movie to really prove that Ryan Gosling should be taken seriously as an actor. He plays an inner-city teacher and addict who begins an unexpected friendship with one of his troubled students after she sees him in a vulnerable position. Gosling's moving performance could've easily taken over the entire film and stolen the show from his costar, Shareeka Epps. But as always, Gosling lets his costar, and their chemistry, shine. This was the first of Gosling's many roles in small, independent films from ambitious directors, a pattern that he continues to follow today.
This heartbreaking romantic drama is difficult to watch. Gosling plays Dean Pereira, and the movie follows his courtship and the ultimate downfall of his relationship and marriage to Cindy Heller, played by Michelle Williams. Gosling's performance features all of his biggest strengths: irresistible charm and raw emotion, all with the subtlety that makes his costars shine just as much as he does (Williams was nominated for an Oscar for her role). He also sings while playing the ukulele in one of the most delightful and romantic scenes in modern movie history.
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