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16 Best Ryan Gosling Movies Ranked

Ryan Gosling began his Hollywood career as a child actor, starting with a short stint on the Disney Channel variety show "The Mickey Mouse Club." From there, Gosling continued working at a consistent rate, with appearances in shows such as "Goosebumps" and "The Adventures of Shirley Holmes" before moving onto more mature projects, with early film roles including 2001's "The Believer" and 2002's "Murder by Numbers."

Gosling's breakout role, however, came playing Noah Calhoun in the 2004 romantic drama "The Notebook," alongside Rachel McAdams (which landed in theaters when Gosling was only 23). Following the huge, surprising success of that film, Gosling began his trajectory of becoming an A-list leading man in Hollywood. He continued on to more roles in a range of genres — drama, action, romance, comedy, the works — and is now a household name, albeit one not typically mentioned in front of husbands and boyfriends, lest they get jealous.

Unlike so many flavor-of-the-month beefcakes, Gosling has used his powers for good, using his star power to help bring a ton of high quality, critically acclaimed films to fruition — many of which will undeniably stand the test of time. Going off Tomatometer scores from Rotten Tomatoes, here's a breakdown of the Gosling's greatest, ranked.


Proving early on in his career that he can hold his own alongside the greats, Gosling acted opposite Anthony Hopkins in 2008 with Gregory Hoblit's "Fracture." 

Cast as Willy Beachum, Gosling's character was a talented prosecutor about to leave his current job for one at a private law firm. Before leaving, he's given a case that is seemingly an easy one: a man, Ted Crawford (Hopkins), shot his wife in an attempt to kill her and is now acting as his own attorney in trial. When Ted turns out to be much more clever and cunning than expected, the trial goes from being an open and shut case to a long winded and complex court battle.

With a 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes, "Fracture" proved to have been a solid career step for Gosling as he furthered his career in the years following "Notebook." The critics took a liking to his performance here, with MovieWeb calling it "electrifying." Further, Q Network Film Desk declared that the film's success was due directly to its leads: "The real pleasure in 'Fracture' is watching Hopkins and Gosling, the elder statesman and brash young firebrand of the current cinema's greatest actors, go at it."

While not his magnum opus by any means, "Fracture" remains a solid performance and a noteworthy point in Gosling's career.

Remember the Titans

In one of his earliest film roles ever, Gosling played Alan Bosley, one of the young football players in the 2000 Denzel Washington based-on-a-true-story sports vehicle "Remember the Titans." 

Directed by Boaz Yakin, the film was set in 1971 Virginia and focused on Washington's Herman Boone as he took on the coaching gig for the football team at T. C. Williams High School — a formerly all white school with a recent history of integrating Black kids into the student body.

Gosling's role in the film was minor, as one of the students who come together in the form of them as a team, getting past their differences. Looking back now, the early work is endearing to watch, knowing what a star he would soon become — Bustle even published an article in 2015 titled "Admiring Ryan Gosling Circa 'Remember The Titans.'"

As for the film itself, "Remember the Titans" was an inspiring flick that shed light on real world events with a compelling script. ReelViews wrote in their review: "As a crowd-pleasing, feel-good sports movie, the film is an unqualified success."

The Slaughter Rule

In 2002, Gosling was still pretty unknown as he took on the role of another high school football player in "The Slaughter Rule," directed and written by Alex Smith and Andrew J. Smith. 

Gosling was cast as Roy Chutney, a teenager cut from his high school football team mere days before his estranged father dies. Seeing football as a way to escape, Roy accepts the offer of a newcomer to the town named Gideon (David Morse), who recruits him for a six-man football team called the Renegades. The drama explores the relationship between player and coach, on and off the field.

"The Slaughter Rule" may have some things in common with "Remember the Titans" in terms of content and message, but the former gave Gosling something the latter did not: a leading role. It's Gosling's performance, alongside that of co-star Morse (memorable in projects ranging from "St. Elsewhere" to "The Crossing Guard" to "Disturbia") that critics agree is what truly makes the film worth watching.

In their review, New York Magazine wrote: "Having made his name as a ferocious, self-hating Jewish skinhead in 'The Believer,' 22-year-old Ryan Gosling gives another memorable performance as a lonely, world-hating fatherless quarterback in 'The Slaughter Rule.'"

The Place Beyond the Pines

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (who also co-wrote the screenplay), "The Place Beyond the Pines" told three interconnected stories involving a bank-robbing motorcycle stunt driver (Gosling), a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) and the impact their actions have fifteen years later on their sons.

Arriving in 2012, at that point Gosling had already proved his dramatic chops several times over with memorable performances in films like "Blue Valentine" and "Drive." He did so again with "Pines," demonstrating once again that he could craft a nuanced, complex character.

Most of the critics who reviewed the film agreed that the performances by Gosling and his co-stars were solid. But some, such as Birmingham Mail, singled Gosling out for high praise. "Gosling duly burns up the screen during every wonderful second he's on it," they wrote. "The film's first half is truly mesmerizing. You can't take your eyes off its leading man."

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Notable for being his first collaboration with frequent co-star Emma Stone, "Crazy, Stupid, Love" illustrated the way their chemistry heightens a film's love story — it's no wonder they would go on to play love interests twice more (so far). But Stone is not the only one that Gosling has chemistry with in "Crazy" — he and Steve Carrell, whose characters act as foils to each other, had sizable chemistry as well.

Written by Dan Fogelman (aka the "This is Us" creator) and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, "Crazy, Stupid, Love" cast Carrell as Cal Weaver, a man in an identity crisis after his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce. Wallowing at a bar, Cal meets suave serial dater Jacob (Gosling), who begins coaching him on how to get back in the dating game.

Film School Rejects had nothing but praise for the Gosling and Carrell pairing, writing that the duo "is an engaging watch and the two have their own special brand of chemistry that keeps the film going." The New York Theatre Wire honed in on the younger co-star: "It is Gosling who steals the show. Flexing his extraordinarily buffed torso and his acting chops, the young star proves his comic skills are as well honed as his dramatic ones, and that's saying a lot."

Lars and the Real Girl

Arriving the same year as "Fracture" was another leading role for Gosling — albeit one that couldn't be any more different. 

Written by Nancy Oliver and directed by Craig Gillespie, "Lars" cast Gosling in the title role as a shy young man with difficulty making friends. Announcing to his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) that he has begun dating a woman he met on the internet, he then introduces them to a life-size sex doll who Lars believes to be real. Following the advice of a doctor, the family decides to go with it.

In this comedy-drama, Gosling showed sides of himself rarely seen. It was both charming and a bit jarring to see Gosling step into the role of a man without confidence or charm. The London Evening Standard wrote of his performance: "The acting is first-class, especially Gosling, who never patronizes his character."

Gosling's compassionate and layered performance was, in fact, well received all around. Empire Magazine wrote, "A strangely affecting romance with real heart — and another sign that Gosling is one of the best young actors around."

The Ides of March

2011 was a good year for Gosling between "Crazy, Stupid, Love," "Drive" and "The Ides of March," three acclaimed films that further cemented his movie star status. 

"Ides" paired him with George Clooney in a political drama directed by Clooney (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Grant Heslov and Brian Oliver). Focused on Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), a candidate for presidency in the days before the all-important Ohio primary, he and his junior campaign manager Stephen Meyers (Gosling) begin to suspect political betrayal in those around them.

Brimming with skilled, veteran actors — the supporting cast includes the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti — Gosling stole the show in many key scenes. Entertainment Spectrum called Gosling's performance "simply superb."

Ok! Magazine noticed Gosling's frequent appearances in films this year and saw it as a positive, writing, "Yet another fantastic performance from Ryan Gosling, in what has turned out to be his breakout year that elevates him to the top rank of actors."

The Believer

The film that put Gosling on the map, 2002's "The Believer," also marks his highest rated film pre-"Notebook." 

Sharing a Tomatometer with "The Ides of March" at 83% — and only ranked higher because of a stronger audience score, used as the tie breaker — "The Believer" is a prime example of the raw power Gosling was putting into his early, pre-breakout performances.

Written and directed by Henry Bean, "The Believer" centered on Danny Balint (Gosling), a young Jewish man with a Neo-Nazi philosophy. This extremely tough — and delicate — subject matter was no easy task to portray, and his ability to competently tackle the complicated role was noticed by critics.

"Gosling's Danny is frighteningly believable in his mad hatreds and when gradually confronting inner doubts," wrote Philip French in his Guardian review.

The Des Moines Register wrote, "Gosling provides an amazing performance that dwarfs everything else in the film." Further, the San Diego Metropolitan called his performance "brilliant — and truly frightening."

Blue Valentine

The stellar pairing of Gosling with Michelle Williams gave life to "Blue Valentine," an often morose script that needed their considerable charms to make it a journey worth taking.

The film depicts an evolving relationship, from its promising courtship to the falling apart of a marriage. Directed by Derek Cianfrance (who Gosling would work with again in "The Place Beyond the Pines"), the story is told through a nonlinear narrative, jumping between the early days of Dean (Gosling) and Cindy's (Williams) relationship and the later, less happy days of their marriage.

As we've seen from him before in several different capacities, Gosling excels at connecting with his scene partners, both romantic or otherwise. He and his equally talented costar Williams came together to create vibrant electricity between their characters — both positively and negatively. 

In a rave review, Reel Talk Online wrote, "Williams's beautiful performance is played nicely off Gosling's remarkably vulnerable performance yielding a timeless portrayal of love, romance, agony and despair."

The story was, at times, difficult to watch — but their performances proved compelling enough to keep your eyes on the screen for the entire duration.

First Man

Gosling's most recent film, which came out in 2018, cast him as legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong during his early days with NASA, up through several years of intense training and test flight leading to the Apollo 11 mission alongside Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) and Mike Collins (Lukas Haas).

Written by Josh Singer and directed by Damien Chazelle (who proved a successful collaborator for Gosling with "La La Land"), the film was hardly a rocket at the box office. But Gosling's performance was among the positives. 

Taking on the role of a real-life figure is always a gamble for an actor — at best, it leads to that coveted Oscar win (appealing to an Academy that's a sucker for biopics), or at worst, it comes across as a missed-the-mark impression. 

Gosling's performance seemed to land him somewhere in the middle, closer to the best case scenario. While the role may not have garnered him that Oscar nomination, his honest, stoic performance was what the movie needed.

In praise of his turn as Armstrong, Tulsa World wrote, "Gosling is exceptionally restrained in a performance that, if all you know about Armstrong is that he was notoriously private (but not reclusive), will convince you of his conviction."

Blade Runner 2049

Gosling seems to enjoy taking on movies that feel like someone dared him to do it, and this decades-later sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece "Blade Runner" was one that fans seemed hesitant to embrace and newcomers seemed unlikely to understand what the heck was going on.  

Spearheaded by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, "Blade Runner 2049" followed Officer K (Gosling), a replicant "Blade Runner" who discovered a long-buried secret that lead him to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) missing for decades since the events of the first film. Much like the original flick, philosophical ruminations on the nature of man, machine and what it means to be alive leave a bitter taste to the proceedings, as K scrambles to make sense of a futuristic world closing in around him.

Vulture, in their review of the film, praised Gosling in his leading role:" The contradictions in Gosling's screen presence grant emotional weight to the film's aesthetic pleasures, and at times, suggest a more complex film, one that truly grapples with the philosophical threads it suggests."

The Big Short

Set in the freewheeling, stock-soaring days of the 2000s, Adam McKay's 2015 ensemble film "The Big Short" centered on Wall Street guru Michael Burry (Christian Bale), who bet against the housing market using over a billion dollars of his investors' money. 

Catching the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell), and retired former trader Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), the four men begin working together to make big bucks taking advantage of the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

The story — which Globe and Mail called "funny because it's true ... [and] tragic and frightening for the same reason" — is at the center of the viewer's experience here, with the cast merely enacting it. But the cast does so with skill and precision. This was very much a story fit for an ensemble cast, and Gosling's contributions enhanced that dynamic alongside the other talented cast members. In fact, the Boston Herald called it "the best ensemble of the year."

Half Nelson

Gosling received his first Oscar nomination early in his career with "Half Nelson," which came out in 2006. 

Directed by Ryan Fleck (who co-wrote the screenplay with Anna Boden), "Nelson" centered on Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling), a young middle school teacher working in inner-city Brooklyn. After developing a friendship with his student Drey (Shareeka Epps), she discovers his drug addiction.

With that description alone, it's clear that Dan is an intricately woven character. Taking care of his students, but not of himself, the role presents an inherent contradiction that becomes more evident as his mentorship with Drey evolves. Gosling impressively embraced these contradictions, and the result was a performance worth re-visiting even all these years later.

NPR called Gosling's performance "the year's most mesmerizing character study." Total Film declared in their review that this performance marked Gosling's potential to become "the most gifted actor of his generation." Some might argue that statement was right on target.

The Nice Guys

Another major success of Gosling's recent years is the 2016 action comedy film "The Nice Guys," directed by Shane Black, who wrote it alongside Anthony Bagarozzi. Set in 1977 Los Angeles, Gosling played private eye Holland March, teamed with enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a man who gets hired to hurt people, when a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears.

With a 91% Tomatometer score, "The Nice Guys" is one of just three of Gosling's films with a score in the 90s. The film as a whole was a major hit with critics — MovieFreak.com called it "a major blast," for one. Of course, much of the film's success can be narrowed down to Gosling and Crowe, who proved perfect together. Together, The Daily Beast declared them "a side-splitting pair."

As for Gosling's role, specifically, he proved popular amongst critics. NME wrote that he "excels as a feckless and cowardly private investigator in a buddy comedy full of wit and energy." Bringing attention to his comedic chops, One Room With a View thinks that he has "never been funnier" than he is in "The Nice Guys."

La La Land

Tied with "The Nice Guys" on Gosling's Tomatometer countdown, "La La Land" has a slightly higher audience score, cementing its place here at Number 2 on this list. Giving Gosling his second Oscar nomination — and his co-star Emma Stone an Oscar win — "La La Land" was an undeniable audience, critic and box-office triumph.

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, "La La Land" centered on aspiring actor Mia (Stone) and aspiring jazz club owner Sebastian (Gosling), swiftly drawn to each other and bonded by their ambitious dreams. As their careers advance, however, they find their relationship straining and themselves growing apart.

Once again, Gosling and Stone were electrifying together — Slashfilm categorized the duo as "a pairing for the ages." The two of them were so good as a pair, in fact, that it seems easy to overlook the ways they each excel individually — and each actor did amazing work here. 

About the leading man, The Mail on Sunday wrote: "Gosling's effortless-looking performance is relaxed, understated and, thanks to months of piano lessons, totally convincing." Thanks to the brilliant portrayal, it's likely that Gosling's turn as Sebastian will forever be one of his defining roles of his career.


Another performance bound to be a defining role for Gosling was his detached, deadly work in "Drive." 

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and written by Hossein Amini, the film told the tale of The Driver, a skilled stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. After developing feelings for his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos), he found himself joining Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) in a million dollar heist that went horribly awry.

While the film's praises focused largely on the director and the cinematography, its protagonist is what still sticks in the minds of moviegoers years later. Gosling found himself being compared to some of the most noteworthy Hollywood greats, as The Bowling Green Daily News wrote: "It's a performance with little dialogue, but Gosling commands your attention — evoking memories of James Dean or early Marlon Brando in the process."

The Saporta Report summed up not only Gosling's role in the film, but also his career in general: "Gosling's commitment is total; his talent unplumbed."