He's "stolen the show" plenty of times throughout his career and, most likely, he's stolen your heart as well. Ryan Gosling isn't only a modern day sex symbol, he also happens to be a widely talented actor that preys on roles oozing with confidence. But don't get me wrong, he isn't a type-casted performer who's solely a one trick pony. Gosling has managed to display large amounts of diversity throughout his ever-growing career. And although the Oscars haven't been particularly kind to his work, I'm genuinely excited for his weekend release, The Nice Guys, and I'm honoring Ryan Gosling's career-best performances with May's movie list of the month (April's List).
Honorable Mention: The Big Short, Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Place Beyond the Pines
#5. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Fresh off a failed Best Actor nomination, Gosling rebounded with an Oscar-baity role of immense proportions in the oddball comedy, Lars and the Real Girl. He tried mightily to ugly himself up in the leading role of an awkwardly shy small town guy who brings home the girl of his dreams to meet his brother and sister-in-law. Only problem is, she's a sex doll. Therefore, the whole town goes out of its way to make Lars feel normal and accept his peculiar quest for a deep and meaningful relationship. Gosling plays the part wonderfully and devours the opportunity to shine in a not-so confident leading role.
#4. Drive (2011)
Another fantastic performance from Gosling comes from Nicolas Winding Refn's heart-pounding thriller, Drive. He stars as the nameless lead who's a mechanic and movie stunt driver by day, but a get-away driver in the shadows of L.A. by night. And when a good deed goes terribly wrong, he's forced to operate under any means necessary in order to protect the new woman and child in his life. His speaking lines are sparse but Drive wins over its audience with a cool and calmly delivered role that's a true testament to Gosling's ability as an actor.
#3. Half Nelson (2006)
In a bit of movie trivia, Ryan Gosling's only Oscar nomination comes from a little-known indie gem called Half Nelson. Gosling gives a soulful and humbling performance as Dan Dunne, an urban high school teacher who captures his students imagination within the classroom walls. However, Dunne also has a bitter drug habit and finds himself in a sticky situation when one of his loyal students discovers his secret. Life isn't always black and white or right and wrong and the brilliant intricacies of Half Nelson bring these unwelcoming truths to the forefront thanks to a magnificent turn from the film's leading star.
#2. The Ides of March (2011)
In what I'll always remember as one of the most overlooked films of its year, Ryan Gosling provided a phenomenal performance in George Clooney's political thriller, The Ides of March. This tightly wound feature examines the inner workings of the political process and the compromises insiders have to make to receive the power that they desire. Gosling takes center stage as Stephen Meyers, the second in command for the staff of presidential hopeful, Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). However, life on the campaign trail isn't without its speed bumps as Meyers is forced into a power struggle while the election draws near. We all know that U.S. politics is a dirty game and The Ides of March uses Goslings talents to illustrate just how messy it can actually be.
#1. Blue Valentine (2010)
Rounding out the list is another small-time indie flick that packs a powerful punch. Blue Valentine follows the toxic relationship of a working class family through a non-chronological lens. Most romances begin with enormous passion, and the same holds true for Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams). But as their relationship progresses, resentment slowly starts to fill in the gaps between their love for one another and deteriorates their family's home. Michelle Williams ended up with an Oscar nomination for her work in the film, yet Gosling sadly missed out in a crowded year of leading male performances. Despite the omission from Hollywood's most respected awards show, Blue Valentine serves as a platform for Gosling amazing talents. On screen he'll win you over and break your heart. It's a brilliant turn that's emblematic of his fine career and, thankfully, one that's far from over.