When it comes to the best Ryan Gosling movies, there’s a little something for everyone out there. In a relatively short period of Hollywood time, he’s established himself as one of the best actors around, displaying the range and nuance to inhabit a multitude of characters.
Let’s take a look at the best Ryan Gosling movies and how they rank.
The Best Ryan Gosling Movies
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
In terms of Ryan Gosling movies, Crazy, Stupid, Love might be the actor at his most likable, which is really saying something. In this romantic comedy, he plays Jacob, a smoothing-talking (and looking) ladies’ man who makes it a goal to help get Steve Carell’s Cal back on his dating feet. But there’s a catch when Jacob falls for Emma Stone’s character.
From a rom-com perspective, this movie hits all the right notes and brings you along the arc of two characters who have nothing in common, but do need each other as well.
It’s a great watch, light and funny with just enough sentimentality to have it stand out from the crowd.
9. A Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
This Ryan Gosling movie is told in triptych with his story taking up one-third of the action but tied into the entirety of the story. In the Derek Cianfrance-directed flick, Gosling is a motorcycle stunt rider who looks to support his family through a series of bank robberies.
There is significant emotional weight in this movie with Ryan Gosling bringing a heavy version of the character to the big screen. The cast is rounded out by Eva Mendes (who Gosling formed a relationship with off-camera that is still going), Bradley Cooper, Dane DeHaan, and more.
While this is one of Ryan Gosling’s lesser-known films, it holds up with the best of them.
8. Blue Valentine (2010)
Blue Valentine is actually the first Ryan Gosling movie that he worked with Derek Cianfrance. And this one is another raw and emotional look at people, their relationships, and how things can fall apart.
Ryan Gosling stars opposite Michelle Williams who was Academy Award-nominated for Best Actress in a story about a couple who come together under somewhat unlikely circumstances only to find that they struggle the whole time.
It’s a sad movie, heavy on the idea that life doesn’t come with a playbook and that things we love early don’t always last.
7. Half Nelson (2006)
More than a decade before he directed Captain Marvel, Ryan Fleck helmed his first film Half Nelson. This Ryan Gosling movie has the actor as a high school teacher who is battling drug addiction.
This is a layered film about the struggles with substance abuse set against the backdrop of a classroom in which Gosling’s character does thrive.
He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor that year and the movie offered a clear departure from The Notebook which he starred in only a couple of years prior.
It began to establish Gosling as a rounded actor who could take on tougher roles.
6. The Nice Guys (2016)
I’m not sure if this is Ryan Gosling’s funniest movie, but it’s at least close. The Nice Guys stars Gosling as Holland March, a somewhat hapless private eye who teams up with Russell Crowe’s Jackson Healy to find porn star Misty Mountain in 1970s Los Angeles.
The Shane Black film is hilarious with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe making a near-perfect (and definitely unexpected) comedic team. It didn’t perform all that well at the box office ($62 million on a $50 million budget) but has held up incredibly well in terms of streaming.
5. The Big Short (2015)
Ryan Gosling isn’t the main character in this movie, but he steals the show every scene he’s in. In The Big Short, he plays Jared Vennett, a Wall Street trader, who is among the folks who predicted the housing crash that spurred the 2008 financial crisis. He’s among the group who gets out ahead and makes ungodly sums off the demise of the market.
The flick also features Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt in the movie which is based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name. Making a movie about super niche market trading should be interesting, but it is in fact, great. The Ryan Gosling Jenga block scene is worth it just on its own.
4. Barbie (2023)
This Ryan Gosling movie is his most recent and has already landed as one of his best. Taking the 2023 summer movie by storm, Barbie racked up massive numbers early and often in the Margot Robbie-led flick about the iconic character.
Taking the Barbie character and turning it into a fantastic live-action movie was no easy task (frankly, it seemed impossible) but Greta Gerwig and company pulled it off in a movie that speaks to multiple generations on multiple levels.
The two leads are excellent in the roles and bring a certain humanity to characters who’ve been known only for their fake plastic-ness up until this point.
3. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
35 years after Harrison Ford first came to the big screen as Rick Deckard, we got a return to that character and a whole new story in Blade Runner 2029. The sequel features Ryan Gosling as K, a blade runner himself who uncovers a secret that could unhinge everything this dystopian society has worked to create.
This movie was a heavy lift considering the cult following of the original, but it more than lived up to the task, tying together the questions from that film while also bringing new ones into the mix. It seems more relevant now than ever.
2. Drive (2011)
In this Ryan Gosling movie, he is simply known as The Driver, a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver in robberies. As is often the case on the big screen, there’s a heist that goes wrong and it leaves Gosling’s character, and others, in significant danger.
Not exactly a heist film in that it’s deeper and darker in terms of tone, Drive was a critical darling because of the style, sound, and departure from traditional action films. The violence doesn’t hold back here, but it also doesn’t necessarily feel like a “violent” film just for the sake of the term.
Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston, and Albert Brooks are all at the top of their respective games here.
1. La La Land (2016)
La La Land was a winner on so many levels and it’s easy to see why this tops the list of best Ryan Gosling movies. He and Emma Stone star here in the romantic musical about a jazz pianist and actress who fall in love in Hollywood. While set in the present day, the Damian Chazelle film has an old-timey feel that only accentuates the musical numbers.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone both show off their immense talent here in a movie about each trying to find their own career path while embarking on a relationship at the same time. This movie picked up nearly every nomination imaginable at the Academy Awards with Ryan Gosling included in the Best Actor group (he didn’t win).
In all, La La Land rates out at the best Ryan Gosling movie on a list of great films.