From his breakthrough appearance in Nicholas Sparks’ weepie The Notebook to his brutal turn in ultra-violent thriller Only God Forgives, Ryan Gosling has an eclectic back-catalogue that divides audiences and keeps us guessing what he’ll do next. After his foray into directorial work on Lost River, he has turned to comedy in Oscar nominated financial satire The Big Short and detective buddy movie The Nice Guys which hits UK cinemas this month. In the run-up to its release, we count down his five best performances to date.
5. Half Nelson
Gosling earned an Academy Award nomination as drug addict history teacher Dan Dunne in Ryan Fleck’s 2006 drama Half Nelson. No stranger to flawed characters having already played a juve kid and a neo-Nazi in previous parts, he has a knack for peeling back the layers of troubled protagonists.
4. The Place Beyond the Pines
Having first worked with director Derek Cianfrance on Blue Valentine, Gosling paired up with him again for an all too brief, yet pivotal role in generational crime flick The Place Beyond The Pines. His character, ‘Handsome Luke’, is a heavily tattooed stunt motorcyclist who comes up with a bank-robbing scheme to support his young son.
In Adam McKay’s financial crisis comedy The Big Short, Gosling takes the part of Deutche Bank douche-bag Jared Vennett, a fast-talking money monster who loves making a profit almost as much as he loves himself. This film sees a change of pace for the actor off the back of dialogue light performances, but he delivers hilariously in the shocking stocks and shares story based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name.
Gosling stars alongside Michelle Williams in a heart-rendering study of the breakdown of a relationship written and directed by the aforementioned Derek Cianfrance. The non-linear narrative cleverly explores the different stages of a romance, starting with the crumbling climax and flashing back to the blossoming beginning.
In this neon-tinged, blood soaked thriller by Nicolas Winding Refn, Gosling stars as a mysterious mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver for local criminals. Appearing alongside Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Oscar Isaac, he is credited simply as The Driver. The iconic character is a man of very few words but exhumes style and screen presence in what has become a modern cult classic.