Are You a True Ryan Gosling Fan? Check Out Our Brutally Honest Ranking of His Top 20 Movies!

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Few actors command the stage quite like Ryan Gosling. It’s not just his winning smile or his toned physique. The man has presence and charisma. He can sing, dance, fight, woo the audience, or scare them. He was born to act, and his filmography proves it. There’s a little bit of everything in there, from romance to comedy and science fiction, and it’s all top-notch.

Gosling has a knack for selecting epic stories that resonate with audiences long after their release. These films are memorable, have a distinct style, and convey important messages to the audience. In this list, we’ve ranked his films based on their visual quality, popularity, emotional impact, and portrayal of significant issues.

1. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

In 1982, Blade Runner left a permanent mark on science fiction with its stunning, futuristic visuals and eerie soundtrack. The sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was everything we wanted and more, with director Denis Villeneuve’s subtle grandeur, a heavy plot, and death-defying fight scenes.

Villeneuve knew what the original film was missing and gave us exactly what we needed in 2049, even throwing in a few surprise twists! 

2. The Notebook (2004)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Gosling first gained international stardom for his role in the 2004 film The Notebook, which fans consider one of the most romantic movies of all time.  It’s almost impossible to watch without bursting into tears.

The Notebook is a must-see for all romance lovers. It’s perfect film choice for a night with the girls!

3. Barbie (2023)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Barbie fans expected a lighthearted comedy based on the popular children’s toy. Instead, they got a well-thought-out feminist treatise that shattered the fourth wall.

Gosling was born to play Ken. He could be charming and repulsive, and had already proven himself a skilled dancer and singer. His song “I’m Just Ken” topped the charts. As of August 2023, it had over 100 million streams on Spotify and 3 million views on YouTube.

4. Drive (2011)

Photo Credit: FilmDistrict.

In this action-packed crime drama, Gosling plays a stunt performer who moonlights as a getaway driver. It’s gritty and suspenseful, and has some of the best antagonists in Gosling’s filmography.

The intensity of Drive stands out the most. It shocked audiences when it came out, and that shock has stayed long after the film was released.

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5. La La Land (2016)

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.

Hollywood has long had a love-hate relationship with musicals. Audiences often have to be tricked into seeing them. That’s why La La Land did the impossible.

The film helped revive the romantic musical genre, adding all of the class and sophistication we expect from its much older equivalents. La La Land also delivered a hefty dose of romantic cynicism and comedy to satisfy modern viewers. That’s not an easy task, so this Gosling movie deserves a bit of recognition.

6. First Man (2018)

Photo Credit: Dreamworks Pictures.

In the epic space race drama First Man, Gosling steps into Neil Armstrong’s legendary shoes and his struggle to become the first person to step foot on the moon. It’s a profoundly personal biopic depicting the determination and suspense that characterized that historical moment.  

7. Blue Valentine (2010)

Photo Credit: Incentive Filmed Entertainment.

One of Gosling’s most tragic performances was in Blue Valentine, a raw portrayal of a young, innocent couple and how their relationship decayed over time. It’s hard to watch in some places, but it was poignant and his performance was gut-wrenching.

Blue Valentine stands out because it combines classical romantic elements contrasted with a cynical portrayal of a modern marriage. The film forces us to confront the bitter reality of love.

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8. The Believer (2001)

Photo Credit: Fuller Films.

The Believer is one of Gosling’s lesser-known pieces, but one of his best. It’s an independent showcase of American racism, centered around a young Jewish man who abandoned his faith to run a gang of skinheads. That contradiction permeates the film, forcing the audience to confront the cognitive dissonance necessary to maintain those beliefs.

9. Only God Forgives (2013)

Photo Credit: Space Rocket Nation.

Only God Forgives is a film that delves into the darker side of human nature. It’s about a boxer (and drug dealer) who goes on a mission to avenge his brother’s death in Thailand.

The content is grizzly. It touches on taboo subjects Hollywood tends to shy away from, but that’s part of the allure. The fact that Gosling is willing to go to those places in this film makes it all the more interesting. 

10. Half Nelson (2006)

Photo Credit: Hunting Lane Films.

In Half Nelson, Gosling plays a high school teacher struggling with addiction. He begins a rocky mentorship after one of his students finds him in a drugged-out daze.

The film’s story is deep and sometimes touching, but the cinematic quality fails to deliver, giving us subpar visuals and poor acting. 

11. The Ides of March (2011)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Gosling stars as Stephen Meyers, a junior campaign manager who discovers that the candidate he’s supporting is hiding a vicious secret. The film uses old tropes and cliches in a fresh style.

The Ides of March is also quite effective at challenging the audience to question their loyalty to their leaders. Overall, it’s a slow burn, but worth a look.

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12. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Photo Credit: MGM.

Gosling is primarily known for his roles as a romantic or dramatic lead, but he’s capable of going in stranger directions. In Lars and the Real Girl, he plays a delusional man who falls in love with a life-sized doll named Bianca.

Gosling’s character was awkward, standoffish, and eccentric, proving to audiences that he could portray various types of characters. However, the tone could have been more lighthearted for the subject matter, and it didn’t cover the breadth of the issue.

Instead, the film focused on small-town dynamics and the character’s reputation for being loveable. It was sappy and disappointing.

13. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

At first glance, The Place Beyond the Pines is a simple crime drama. But the story takes a dark twist, presenting the audience with a profound moral quandary that sticks with you long after seeing the film.

There’s more to The Place Beyond the Pines than meets the eye, and it has style. Many consider it to be a hidden gem. However, some viewers were disappointed with the film’s time jumps and lack of character development.

14. The Nice Guys (2016)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The Nice Guys is a neo-noir action comedy about two private investigators, played by Gosling and Russell Crowe, in the 1970s. The film relies on action and one-liners, adding a gritty element reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It’s an excellent combination of comedy and intensity thanks to the interplay between the two lead actors.

But the film fails to deliver the quirkiness fans have come to expect from the genre. Instead, The Nice Guys is colorful and absurd.

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15. The Big Short (2015)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Who wouldn’t want to star in a corporate drama with Steve Carell, the boss ofThe Office? The man is a prodigy, capable of turning anything into comedic gold.

The Big Short boasts an all-star cast, including Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt. Succession star Jeremy Strong even made an appearance, and the movie made great use of all of these actors. However, it just didn’t leave a lasting impression on the audience.

This movie is for a fun evening on the couch, just not the earth-shattering drama we often see in Gosling’s work.

16. All Good Things (2010)

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.

From the outside, All Good Things has all the right ingredients. It isn’t comforting. There’s murder, a toxic relationship, wealth, and power dynamics.

However, the creators failed to mix these elements into a coherent, compelling plot. There was too much ambiguity, leaving audiences shaking their heads.

17. Murder by Numbers (2002)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Murder by Numbers is a failed crime thriller released early in Gosling’s career. Sandra Bullock starred as a cliche detective determined to hunt down the body of a young woman murdered in a small town.

The film couldn’t have been more forgettable, filled with bad catchphrases, cheesy dialogue, and low-budget sets. Gosling’s role as a psychopathic teenager is its only saving grace, and even that isn’t enough to hold the audience’s attention.

18. The United States of Leland (2003)

Photo Credit: MDP Worldwide.

The United States of Leland has a fantastic foundational concept. It’s about a young man, played by Gosling, who was charged with the murder of a disabled boy. The film charts the backstory, a romance, and Gosling’s imprisonment. 

While the film had potential, The United States of Leland emerges as a feel-good coming-of-age drama, complete with an acoustic guitar and teenage angst. It was borderline inappropriate, and the budget was meager. It shows how easily even good ideas can flop due to poor execution.

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19. Gangster Squad (2013)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Gangster Squad boasted a stellar cast, including Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn. It was about Mickey Cohen, a famed kingpin who ruled Los Angeles in the 1940s. 

The film’s biggest failure was the costumes. Penn’s makeup looked like strips of rubber ready to fall off his face, and the script is so cheesy that it’s almost impossible to finish the film. It’s hard to take Gangster Squad seriously.

20. The Slaughter Rule (2002)

Photo Credit: Solaris.

The Slaughter Rule is a step down from the horrific TV movies Hollywood mass-produced at its release. In it, Gosling plays a high school footballer who was kicked off the team, throwing him into an existential crisis exacerbated by his father’s death.

While the movie started with OK concept, it could’ve worked had they not given Gosling’s character a sappy mentor and a brand-new league of rag-tag players. The whole thing was pathetically low-budget, and the soundtrack was unbearable.


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Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

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