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His ability to unmistakably evoke many different kinds of onscreen personas has made Ryan Gosling one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and sought after actors… well, that and his classic good looks. But, seriously, there are not many actors who can who switch from being a charming romantic like Noah in The Notebook to being an intimidating, stoic, violent badass such as the nameless hero from Drive like the 40-year-old Canadian has managed to do so easily at various moments in his career. Thus, you will find plenty of variety among our collection of Ryan Gosling’s best movies, along with a quick reference of where to find them, starting with he film that earned him his first Academy Award nomination.
Half Nelson (Amazon Rental)
A Brooklyn middle school history teacher and girls basketball coach (Ryan Gosling) forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students (Shareeka Epps) after she discovers his secret drug habit.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Also starring future Marvel actor Anthony Mackie and crafted by future Captain Marvel directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, Half Nelson is a dark, brutally honest character study that turned Ryan Gosling into an Oscar darling with his 2007 Best Actor nod.
La La Land (IMDb TV)
A struggling musician (Ryan Gosling) and a struggling actress (Emma Stone) fall in love, despite their respective career aspirations getting in the way in modern day Hollywood.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Ryan Gosling’s second and most recent Oscar nomination was for his impassioned performance in writer and director Damien Chazelle’s exhilarating 2016 musical masterpiece, La La Land, which also marked his third collaboration with Emma Stone.
Crazy Stupid Love (Amazon Rental)
A hapless middle-aged man (Steve Carell) is mentored in how to recover from his recent divorce by a young womanizer (Ryan Gosling) who ends up experiencing a life-changing meeting with a young woman in an unhappy relationship (Emma Stone).
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Ryan Gosling’s first collaboration with Emma Stone was in Crazy Stupid Love, which is widely considered to be one of the best romantic comedies in recent memory for its clever, honest, and surprisingly timeless analysis of what it really takes to make romance work.
First Man (Amazon Rental)
Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) struggles to ensure that his maiden voyage to the Moon will be a safe one, while also struggling to hold his family together in the wake of a heartbreaking tragedy.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Ryan Gosling’s second time working with writer and director Damien Chazelle after La La Land was 2019’s First Man - a revealing, visually stunning, Oscar-winning inside look at the private life of astronaut Neil Armstrong in the years leading up to his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” on July 16, 1969.
The Big Short (Pluto TV)
An eccentric fund manager (Christian Bale) suspects that the housing market is in trouble, which banking executives and financial investors catch wind of and selfishly take advantage of.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Ryan Gosling’s second time working with Steve Carell was 2015’s The Big Short - co-writer and director Adam McKay’s revealing, uniquely meta, funny, and Oscar-winning inside look at the days leading to the housing market crisis in 2005.
The Nice Guys (Hulu)
A chance meeting between a pair of mismatched private investigators - one a hardened, no-nonsense professional (Russell Crowe) and the other a bumbling, alcoholic single father (Ryan Gosling) - leads to a team-up in the dual mysteries of a missing teenager and a murdered porn star in 1977 Los Angeles.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Ryan Gosling’s next big comedy after The Big Short was 2016’s The Nice Guys - writer and director Shane Black’s fun, subversive, screwball farce disguised as a deconstructive throwback to buddy cop movies.
Lars And The Real Girl (HBO Max)
A man (Paul Schneider ) and his wife (Emily Mortimer) struggle to be supportive when his shy, introverted brother (Ryan Gosling) finds love with a mail order sex doll.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Another comedy that shows the goofier side of Ryan Gosling (but in a more bizarre and heartbreaking way) is Lars and the Real Girl, a dark, but quirky, look at the lengths one will go to feel loved when they cannot sense its presence in their life already.
The Notebook (HBO Max)
An elderly man (James Garner) visits a woman stricken with Alzheimer’s (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home, where he reads to her the heartbreaking and heartwarming story of Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) - a pair of star-crossed lovers torn apart by class differences in 1930s.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: A drama that shows the more charming and romantic side of Ryan Gosling is The Notebook - the 2004, instant classic romantic drama from director Nick Cassavetes that skyrocketed author Nicolas Sparks (who wrote the original novel) into the mainstream and is still widely believed to be the finest adaptation of his work thus far.
Blue Valentine (Tubi, IMDb TV)
Outside circumstances (including family upbringings and financial hardships) cause a painful strain on the marriage between in a painter (Ryan Gosling) and a nurse (Michelle Williams).
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: A drama that shows another romantic, but also far more intense, side of Ryan Gosling is Blue Valentine - a bleak, brutal, Oscar-nominated romantic drama from 2010 that made writer and director Derek Cianfrances a talent to look out for before he went on to co-write the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Sound of Metal.
The Place Beyond The Pines (Starz)
In order to provide for his lover (Eva Mendes) and their newborn child, a motorcycle rider (Ryan Gosling) turns to bank robbery, which then puts him on the trail of a hot shot rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) in Schenectady, New York.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Ryan Gosling’s second time working with director Derek Cianfrance was 2012’s The Place Beyond the Pines, another bleak romance and intense crime drama in which he plays a skilled stunt rider living a double life a criminal.
In order to keep the woman of his dreams (Carey Mulligan) safe, a Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who works as a getaway driver by night agrees to help pull off a seemingly simple job that quickly goes horribly wrong.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Another Neo-noir thriller that sees Ryan Gosling as a stoic stuntman with a double life as a criminal is 2011’s Drive - an pulse-pounding, beautifully shot, brilliantly unique instant classic of the crime drama that led to Gosling’s friendship and creative partnership with director Nicolas Winding Refn.
Blade Runner 2049 (HBO Max)
A cop (Ryan Gosling) who specializes in the hunting and “retiring” of artificial beings known as Replicants comes across a mystery that could change the world (and his own life) forever in a dystopian Los Angeles.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Another visually and emotionally stunning crime drama that takes great advantage of Ryan Gosling’s penchant for stoicism is 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 - director Denis Villeneuve’s epic, Oscar-winning 2017 sequel Ridley Scott’s celebrated 1982 sci-fi classic that some argue is the better of the two for its stunning production design and powerfully inventive technological commentary.
Fracture (HBO Max)
A young, hot shot lawyer (Ryan Gosling) struggles to prosecute a wealthy, aging engineer (Anthony Hopkins) who confessed to murdering his wife and her lover due to his manipulative ways of working the system.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Another fascinating crime thriller that see Ryan Gosling at odds with a corruption is 2007’s Fracture, which puts the actor on a twisted cat and mouse game with the great Anthony Hopkins.
The Believer (Tubi)
A fiercely devout, strongly anti-Semitic member of the KKK. (Ryan Gosling) struggles to keep his Jewish upbringing a secret in he 1960s.
Why it’s one of Ryan Gosling’s best: Another fascinating thriller that will never allow you to look at Ryan Gosling the same way again is The Believer - a 2001 drama from director Harry Bean that is based on a shocking true story.
If you, a huge Ryan Gosling fan, have already binged all of these favorites and are looking for more of your favorite Canadian heartthrob named Ryan (not named Ryan Reynolds), look for his upcoming Netflix thriller The Gray Man on your 2022 movies schedule and his debut into horror with Leigh Whannell’s upcoming Wolfman remake.