Neil Before Him
“First Man” has officially landed in theatres today, and with it, a storm of Oscar buzz praising the film for its ability to depict the famous Apollo 11 mission to a new, incredible degree of accuracy, while also managing to turn this sensational and unforgettable moment in history into a compelling and deeply layered story. The film is directed by Damien Chazelle, the man behind the immense success of the 2016 Academy Award winning musical film “La La Land“, which Ryan Gosling starred in as well. Gosling’s performance in “First Man” as Neil Armstrong marks his first experience portraying a globally recognized historical figure, i.e. the first man to walk on the moon. Based on the reviews so far, one small step for man will likely become a huge leap for Gosling onto some upcoming award ceremony stages. In the meantime, let’s look at 5 of our all time favourite Ryan Gosling performances.
#5: Lars Lindstrom – “Lars and the Real Girl” (2007)
Although he often plays charismatic or determined characters, Gosling proves how diverse his acting skills are by taking on the role of this painfully awkward recluse. Living in his childhood home’s garage, Lars does his best to isolate himself from the rest of the small town, including his older brother and sister-in-law. Lars finally finds someone he wants to get close to when he develops a delusional romantic relationship with a sex doll. Over the course of the film, we discover that Lars’ insecurities come from being raised by a father dealing with the depression of Lars’ mother dying in childbirth, followed by the quick departure of his brother. Gosling’s sincere and heartfelt performance shows a shy man slowly learning to expand his world.
#4: Dan Dunne – “Half Nelson” (2006)
Gosling’s bold portrayal of a dark and troubled, yet highly talented and caring middle school teacher, earned him nearly universal critical acclaim, as well as his first Academy Award nomination. Dunne has many positive qualities, and his importance to his students cannot be understated. He often challenges them and tells them the truth with his unconventional teaching style. However, he is not without a serious dark side. An unstable coke addict, Dunne is often barely able to get up in the morning, and even passes out while coaching a basketball game. As a man seemingly trapped by himself, desperately wanting to change, but too afraid to do so, Gosling’s Dan Dunne moves us with his attempts to stop future generations from making the same mistakes he did.
#3: Sebastian – “La La Land” (2016)
If there’s one role that proves Gosling’s versatility, it’s his work on the Academy Award winning musical film “La La Land”. Aside from acting in the film alongside co-star Emma Stone, Gosling also demonstrated his multifaceted talents including singing, dancing and playing piano as well. He played the role of Sebastian, a stubborn and struggling musician with an undying devotion to Jazz, who meets a woman named Mia, also navigating with her own ambitious dreams to be an actress. The two fall in love, but quickly realize that some dreams are too dear to sacrifice. Gosling’s performance in “La La Land” was believable, effortless and made balancing witty humour with heartbreaking passion seem easy.
#2: The Driver – “Drive” (2011)
Despite playing a character with no known backstory, few clear motivations, and without even a name, Gosling still manages to deliver an incredibly iconic performance in this neo-noir crime thriller. His stoic portrayal is reminiscent of action stars of another age, and conveys a wide range of extreme emotions through a rare subtlety. Playing a getaway driver who begins a romance with a woman named Irene, whose husband is in jail, we see a softer and caring side to his character. This comes in stark contrast to the intense performance he gives when a gangster sets up The Driver, and he must fiercely defend Irene and her son, adopting a single-minded determination to protect them.
#1: Dean Pereira – “Blue Valentine” (2010)
With a narrative shifting back and forth between a young couple falling in love and the decay of their relationship years later, this romantic drama sees Gosling give a beautiful and utterly heartbreaking performance. As a young man, Dean is a deeply caring and emotional underachiever who falls head over heels when he meets a girl he feels a deep connection to. When the narrative shifts forward, Dean is still an underachiever with a dead end job and no greater dreams or ambitions, but he manages to be a kind and loving father while holding onto a dying marriage. Dean is a complex and tragic character, with many pros, as well as character defects; he’s also remarkable, relatable and real.
What’s YOUR favourite Ryan Gosling performance? Leave a comment below!
For more about Ryan Gosling, our beloved Canadian star, check out the MsMojo video below for our pick of the Top 10 Ryan Gosling Movie Moments.