What are the best Ryan Gosling movies? As an actor, Ryan Gosling almost always seems to pick brilliant roles in amazing movies, with an incredibly impressive filmography in his career thus far.
Ryan Gosling has been around for a while too, starting in TV before jumping into some of the best drama movies like Remember the Titans. He’s gone all the way to the very top with Oscar-nominated turns in huge musicals like La La Land. He’s been to the moon, he’s been to the future, he’s fallen in love, and he’s stomped a guy’s head to smithereens in an elevator. We call that range.
But what are the best Ryan Gosling movies? We took on the challenge of picking out the best movies from his eclectic career. Sadly, his Papyrus sketch for Saturday Night Live is ineligible for this list, otherwise, it would have been an easy winner. But, the choices we have gone for are essential viewing nonetheless.
What are the best Ryan Gosling movies?
- La La Land
- The Nice Guys
- Blade Runner 2049
- First Man
- Crazy, Stupid, Love
- Blue Valentine
- Lars and the Real Girl
- Half Nelson
- The Notebook
- The Big Short
12. La La Land (2016)
I could wax lyrical about the musical La La Land all day. It’s a stunning film from start to finish, with phenomenal choreography, sumptuous set design, and meticulous costume design. The soundtrack of original music from composer Justin Hurwitz, too, is so catchy and uplifting.
Ryan Gosling earned an Oscar nomination for his role as Seb, and the chemistry he and Emma Stone share on screen is beautiful to watch. From enemies sitting in traffic, to reluctant acquaintances, to being madly in love, and then losing each other, the love story of this romance movie always warms my soul and tears it apart in equal measure.
11. Drive (2011)
He may not say much in Drive, with his unnamed character more comfortable with grunts and hard stares, but I’ll be damned if you can find me someone who looks cooler than this on screen. With his scorpion bomber jacket and twiddling a toothpick between his teeth, Gosling’s iconic look in this movie makes him one of the most recognisable characters of the 21st century.
This neon-soaked, super-stylish crime story is one of the best thriller movies of all time, and the synth soundtrack that accompanies it is the perfect compliment to the action-packed joyride that Nicolas Winding-Refn brings to the big screen.
10. The Nice Guys (2016)
Although he was Oscar-nominated for his role in La La Land, arguably Ryan Gosling’s best performance of 2016 was in this hilarious buddy comedy movie. Starring opposite Russell Crowe (who knew that guy was so funny?), Gosling offered slapstick comedy of the highest order, as the hapless detective Holland March.
The greatest travesty of Hollywood remains the fact that The Nice Guys 2 doesn’t exist yet, and doesn’t appear to be in the pipeline anytime soon either. We need more, Shane Black – make a Nice Guys 2 release date happen!
9. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
It’s never easy to follow in the footsteps of one of the best science fiction movies of all time, but Blade Runner 2049 more than holds its own and even enhances the rich legacy of the Blade Runner franchise. Denis Villeneuve does an incredible job of putting together the jaw-dropping dystopian world for one of the finest big-screen spectacles of recent years.
Gosling, too, had a tough job on his hands to fill the shoes of Harrison Ford as the protagonist of this sequel. But, of course, he’s up to the task. As K, he is enigmatic, effortlessly cool, and surprisingly nuanced as the story delves deeper into the mystery of the replicants.
8. First Man (2018)
Ryan Gosling teamed up with La La Land director Damien Chazelle, once again in 2018 for this movie based on a true story, starring as Neil Armstrong. What makes this movie so special is that for a story about mankind landing on the moon, we actually focus more on the men behind the mission and the unimaginable physical and mental toll the operation had on those involved.
Justin Hurwitz once again provides an exceptional musical score, this time opting for haunting instrumentals rather than catchy show tunes. And, of course, Chazelle and his crew achieve unbelievable results in the technical elements of First Man, from awe-inspiring cinematography to immersive sound design.
7. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
While Gosling is better known for his cool-guy roles and more dramatic performances, he is definitely an underrated comedy performer. Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of the best rom-coms ever, and that’s all down to Gosling and the rest of the ensemble cast.
He shines in the romantic elements in another collaboration with Emma Stone, while his humorous dynamic with Steve Carell is side-splittingly good. And, who can forget the big brawl that erupts when David Lindhagen shows up? Cringeworthy chaos at its finest!
6. Blue Valentine (2010)
It would have been very easy for Gosling to settle into being the stereotypical, good-looking guy who plays the love interest in cheesy romance flicks, but thankfully, that hasn’t been the case. Gosling flexed his talents as a dramatic performer in 2010, in this utterly heart-breaking story of a broken marriage.
He and Michelle Williams are so convincing in their performances in Blue Valentine, that you genuinely feel every brutal moment of their break-up, and my god it hurts! Arguably, this is Gosling’s best performance ever, and that is saying something.
5. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
From his best performance to his most bizarre. But, don’t let the picture fool you, there is a surprising amount of poignant, very serious subject matter in Lars and the Real Girl. When it’s at its weirdest, it’s so much fun, but when it cuts to the core of the emotional facets of Lars’ situation, you can’t help but feel for this oddball.
Not enough people talk about Lars and the Real Girl, and it’s definitely one of Gosling’s most underrated films and performances, but it’s well worth a watch if you’re a fan of the Gos. Come for the sex doll, the moustache, and the Fairisle jumpers, stay for the trauma and tears.
4. Half Nelson (2006)
Ryan Gosling actually earned his first Oscar nomination way back in 2006, with this gritty, independent drama movie. Gosling stars as Dan Dunne, a middle-school teacher with a drug addiction – heavy stuff, I know! As the addiction becomes harder and harder to hide, and his life falls apart, it’s down to one of Dunne’s students to help him out of this hole.
The movie also features MCU actor Anthony Mackie in a supporting role, and is another of Gosling’s more under-the-radar offerings, even with the Oscar nomination. This is Gosling like you’ve never seen him, and further displays his fantastic range as a performer.
3. The Notebook (2004)
This is where it all really kicked off for Ryan Gosling, with The Notebook being one of the most popular movies of the 2000s, propelling the actor to stardom. You couldn’t go anywhere in 2004 without women fawning over The Notebook, and men pretending they didn’t enjoy it when really they did.
The Notebook is a rare example of a movie based on a book that does the source material justice, and with the star power of Gosling and Rachel McAdams, this movie is still a huge part of popular culture today.
2. Barbie (2023)
She’s Barbie, and he’s just Ken. Greta Gerwig’s bringing to life of the everlasting dolls has so much going for it, and at the center are Gosling and Margot Robbie. They understood the assignment, bringing commitment, comedic timing, and carefully measure intensity so we buy into all the wonders of Barbie Land.
Gosling establishes Ken’s cluelessness, penchant for a song-and-dance routine, and pure himbo energy perfectly. He might attempt to ruin Barbie’s life and the very place they call home, but that’s because toxic masculinity gave him poor coping mechanisms for negative feelings. Once he understands that, all is well, and Gosling keeps us sympathetic. You can find out in our Barbie review.
1. The Big Short (2015)
Having Ryan Gosling explain it to you in a suit doesn’t do much to assuage the absolute rage one feels watching the downturn of the world’s economy. Adam McKay’s film recounts the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, where people the world over suffered because of malicious, negligent investments and banking.
Gosling narrates the story, explaining how banks manipulate mortgages and other branches of income for their own gain. His character, Jared Vennett, is based on another hedge fund manager. The Big Short uses some fictional elements, but the broad stokes are true and impactful enough it’ll raise your blood pressure every single watch.
So, that’s the best of the best from the Gos! Keep an eye on our guides to the Barbie 2 release date and new movies for where he might show up next. If you want to explore the filmography of other great actors, check out our lists of the best Oscar Isaac movies, best Emily Blunt movies, and the best Margot Robbie movies.