To anyone who will listen, I call him “the best actor of my generation”, and I think it’s fitting. He can be dangerous, he can sport the cool, he can be the heartbreaker, and he can even be that weird, unconventional guy that you can’t help but love. To me, he is the embodiment of the contemporary leading man. Yes, he is very easy on the eyes and oh so dreamy (trust me, I can go on and on all day), but he also a profound and introspective actor. To top that off, he seems like a very kind, intelligent, genuine person for his interviews (see the January 2011 issue of GQ). I have complied a list of my top five best Ryan Gosling films. To me, these films offer his very best and my favorite performances to date.
#5: Half Nelson (2006)
Ryan received his first of soon to be many Oscar nominations playing an inner-city middle school teacher who bonds with one of his female students. She discovers that he has a drug addiction which sparks a reciprocal friendship in which they both go to lengths to protect the other. He plays this role with a perfect mixture of authority, vulnerability, and blurred social boundaries that only he can.
#4: Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
So, it’s a movie about a quirky guy who orders a sex doll on the internet, escapes into a delusion about her being real, develops a relationship with her, and whose community also pretends she is real for his sake. Yep. Obviously this is a comedy but also a very sweet film about dealing with life and letting go. For this role, Ryan received a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination.
#3: Blue Valentine (2010)
Ryan is a wide-eyed, in-the-clouds romantic husband to Michelle Williams’ down-to-earth, pragmatic wife. Both play their roles well in this movie that switches between when they initially meet and fall in love and years later in their struggling marriage. To me, this movie perfectly explores characters who are completely opposites in how they view and give love and who never learned to accept the flaws in the other.
#2: Drive (2011)
I’ll be rooting for Ryan who is up for a lead actor Independent Spirit Award (and hopefully a Golden Globe or Oscar!) in this role as a Hollywood stunt driver who secretly moonlights as a for hire, getaway car driver. What kind of person is he, and what drives him to do this? Those are the questions this film sets out to answer. I’m not a fan of action movies or even violence but unlike many Hollywood movies, what is included in this film is not all bells-and-whistles, but necessary to move the film forward and paint a picture of the man called Driver.
#1: The Notebook (2004)
You can’t call yourself a romantic and not love this movie. It may be alittle cheesy, alittle cliche, but this is the movie that really introduced me to Ryan Gosling, the actor (Note: I have yet to see his critically acclaimed 2001 film “The Believer” which sits on my DVR and I’m sure I will love). I’m not saying that this performance was the most nuanced. I actually like to think that this he was just playing himself. But he was the epitome of the ideal man to many women - soulful, sweet, determined and hopeful. I don’t think I’m the only one out there that wish that Ryan and Rachel McAdams would just get back together already and complete my fantasy about true love.