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|18 Nov 2021

Ranking Ryan Gosling’s Greatest Roles

What’s your top pick?

Ryan Gosling has come a long way since his days of being a child star on The Micky Mouse Club. After the box office success of The Notebook, there was every chance that Gosling would become typecast in romantic lead roles, however, he’s deliberately opted for roles that subvert our expectations. Whether he’s playing a stone-cold petrolhead in Nicolas Refn’s Drive (2011) or an existentially-devastated blade runner in Denis Villeneuve’s neo-noir, Gosling has definitely established himself as one of the greatest actors of his generation. 

With Gosling’s next major movie role – portraying Ken in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie – being imminent, we’ve decided to take a look back at his most impressive performances so far!

Drive, 2011

1. Drive (2011) 

Directed by Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive tells the story of a Hollywood stuntman moonlighting as a getaway driver.

This hyper-violent revenge flick blew away the audience at Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and was a major departure from the previously typical settings you’d usually find Gosling in. Bolstered by its thumping 1980s synth soundtrack, Refn tapped Johnny Jewel of Desire and Chromatics for the score, an electric collaboration still spinning on vinyl to this day. 

Our favourite element of the performance? The chrome-like silk jacket embroidered with a gilded scorpion. Lethal.

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Blue Valentine, 2010

2. Blue Valentine (2010) 

A heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage in freefall, Gosling is accompanied by Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, a film which demanded both actors to venture deep into their psyches.

Deftly portraying both the flowering and sharp decline of a relationship, director Derek Cianfrance dialled up the melancholia of the Pennsylvanian collapse, and the bruised-blue hue and elegiac soundtrack (performed by Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear) makes this one of the most poignant on-screen breakdowns of all time. 

Extra points also go to Gosling for writing and performing a number of songs himself! 

La La Land, 2016

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3. La La Land (2016) 

Speaking of Gosling performing musically, it’s time to dry your tears – we’re onto something a little more upbeat! La La Land was the masterwork from writer and director Damien Chazelle. 

A starry-eyed  Emma Stone portrays Gosling’s on-screen lover in this flick, which unpacks the story of two people who are trying to navigate their love affair, while also pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles. Sweetened by a candy-coloured palette and unabashed embrace of nostalgia, the film again shows off Gosling’s jaw-dropping diversity as an actor and performer. The film is deserving of every one of its fourteen Oscar nominations. 

Blade Runner 2042, 2017

4. Blade Runner 2042 (2017)

Producing a sequel to Ridley Scott’s rain-slicked, hallucinogenic vision of the future was never going to be an easy task. Thankfully, Denis Villeneuve was up to the task. 

A rare sci-fi sequel that lives up to the dizzying highs of its predecessor, Gosling plays the new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department. Quickly tangled in a sprawling narrative that blurs the line between humankind and machine, he illuminates the existential traumas of the original film while expanding his sympathies in new and unexpected areas. 

Visually capturing the steaming neo-Tokyo, Blade Runner 2042 also somehow manages to channel the searing combination of classical composition and synthesisers by Greek electronic musician Vangelis. 

The Place Beyond the Pines, 2012

5. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) 

A cult-favourite from director Derek Cianfrance, The Place Beyond the Pines is a gripping portrayal of contemporary American fatherhood.

The film’s sartorial impact is undisputed – costume designer Erin Benach really came through here (once again). Gosling’s bleach-blonde hair, Metallica tees and beat-up leather motorcycle pants exist on moodboards everywhere today – an enduring testament to Gosling’s style in this movie..

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