“I’ve learned it’s important not to limit yourself. You can do whatever you really love to do, no matter what it is.”
Ryan Gosling is a Canadian actor and musician who gained recognition after playing the sociopathic loner in The Notebook. Handsome and talented, Gosling has usually had a knack for portraying stuntmen or sociopaths in many of his films. Insanely gifted, he has an intensely compelling on-screen presence and exemplary acting prowess.
One of the most bankable romantic leads of his generation, Ryan Gosling had, however, reportedly been influenced by Sylvester Stallone’s action films. “When I was in first grade, I watched First Blood, and I filled my Fisher-Price Houdini kit with steak knives and brought them to school and started throwing them at kids in recess,” he once said. Needless to say, the future thespian had been suspended for this dangerous re-enactment, but that planted in him the desire to act.
Netflix has been ever-so-gracious by procuring rights to almost all his films. The actor, who turns 40 today, continues to be the heartthrob for thousands of fans worldwide. In celebration of his birthday, let us take a look at the five best films Ryan Gosling has starred in that are available on Netflix.
Here are five best films starring Ryan Gosling available on Netflix.
The 5 best Ryan Gosling films on Netflix:
5. First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)
Official synopsis: “Hoping to reach the moon by the end of the decade, NASA plans a series of extremely dangerous, unprecedented missions in the early 1960s. Engineer Neil Armstrong joins the space program, spending years in training and risking his life during test flights. On July 16, 1969, the nation and world watch in wonder as Armstrong and fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins embark on the historic Apollo 11 spaceflight.”
Although the idea of space travel has attracted a lot of positive buzz and imagination, Chazelle’s biographical drama about Neil Armstrong’s mission to the moon does not romanticise the idea of it. Instead of a tranquil picture, he paints the real, dreadful experience along with the idea of being trapped in a purgatory of existential dread.
Gosling as Neil Armstrong is stoic and quiet. He is compelling and in control of his character as the intelligent astronaut. “Gosling makes Armstrong a figure of intensely contained can-do moxie whose ability to guide a ship, especially when it’s at death’s door, is the essence of grace under pressure.” His emotional turmoil turns him into a nervous wreck, and rightfully so. The journey is frightening, and the film will probably never allow one to think of man’s historic walk on the moon in the same way ever again.
“I don’t know what space exploration will uncover, but I don’t think it’ll be exploration just for the sake of exploration. I think it’ll be more the fact that it allows us to see things. That maybe we should have seen a long time ago. But just haven’t been able to until now.”
4. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010)
Official synopsis: “Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) live a quiet life in a modest neighbourhood. To the casual observer, everything appears normal, if a bit subdued. But a closer examination reveals a couple caught in a downward spiral. They appear to have the world at their feet at the outset of the relationship. However, his lack of ambition and her retreat into self-absorption cause potentially irreversible cracks in their marriage.”
The film is observant of an arc of romance that witnesses the lives of Dean and Cindy, a young couple living a quiet life. On the outside, they have a normal and somewhat happy life, getting by. However, they are caught in a downward spiral which results in an extremely irritable and rocky relationship. All the passion they had at the start of the relationship starts to fizzle out with Dean’s lack of ambition and Cindy’s self-withdrawal, which leads to impending marital doom.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are stunning on-screen. Though it might be slightly disturbing to watch the intrinsic analysis of a rocky marriage, the unusual depth and emotional bandwidth of their characters make the film extremely special. The actors would improvise dialogues and film unscripted scenes based on what they thought would be essential to their respective roles. To add authenticity to the characters, Cianfrance would fan the tension. “One night he told Gosling to go into Williams’ bedroom and try to make love to her. Gosling, soundly rejected, ended up sleeping on the couch”. Intense and minutely crafted, the film sees the development of a relationship complicated by an unplanned pregnancy and the subsequent fracture.
“How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?”
3. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Official synopsis: “Driver is a skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Though he projects an icy exterior, lately he’s been warming up to a pretty neighbour named Irene and her young son, Benicio. When Irene’s husband gets out of jail, he enlists Driver’s help in a million-dollar heist. The job goes horribly wrong, and Driver must risk his life to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful masterminds behind the robbery.”
Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed Driver, who is a Hollywood stuntman, playing a getaway driver in movies. He grows increasingly fond of his neighbour, Irene, and her son, Benicio. When Irene’s husband, Standard Gabriel, is released from prison, they become friends and plot a million-dollar heist that endangers the lives of everyone. With the heist-gone-wrong, the Driver must put his life at stake to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful sharks behind the robbery.
Like Tarantino, Refn is an exploitation-film maniac and thus his work mirrors cult favourites like To Live and Die in L.A. With talented actors like Ryan Gosling, Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and more. Drive is a riveting watch. “Drive takes the tired heist-gone-bad genre out for a spin, delivering fresh guilty-pleasure thrills in the process”. Gosling as the Driver is stoic and hardly breaks into a cold sweat during the nerve-wracking scenes. He is not a one-dimensional character- his emotional depth and sensitivity to the situation are remarkable. Having performed several of his own stunts, Gosling’s Driver is iconic.
“You get out of here and you never fucking come back. You never come back.”
2. The Notebook (Nick Cassavetes, 2004)
Official synopsis: “In 1940s South Carolina, mill worker Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) and rich girl Allie (Rachel McAdams) are desperately in love. But her parents don’t approve. When Noah goes off to serve in World War II, it seems to mark the end of their love affair. In the interim, Allie becomes involved with another man (James Marsden). But when Noah returns to their small town years later, on the cusp of Allie’s marriage, it soon becomes clear that their romance is anything but over.”
Adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name, the film bears testament to Noah and Allie’s love story. In 1940s South Carolina, Noah Calhoun is a mill worker while Allie is a rich girl; despite their economic differences, they are haplessly in love much to the disdain of Allie’s parents. When Noah goes to serve in the Second World War, their story seemingly comes to an end and Allie is set to marry another man. However, with Noah’s return on the brink of Allie’s marriage, the passion is rekindled, and their love affair is not even close to being over.
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams were constantly at loggerheads with each other during filming; eventually, they made up and even ended up, dating. The Notebook, too, is a story of fiery passion and love that triumphs all. McAdams, fresh out of playing Regina George in Mean Girls, is adorable with her emotional complication and dramatic depth. Gosling, too, is incredible on screen, exuding romance in his otherwise natural demeanour. Gosling recalls Cassavetes saying, “I want you to play this role because you’re not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood. You’re not handsome, you’re not cool, you’re just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts.” With an iconic kissing scene amidst a torrential downpour, The Notebook, even a decade and half of its release continue to be a fan favourite tear-jerker.
“I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you every day for a year. It wasn’t over… it still isn’t over.”
1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
Official synopsis: “Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.”
Damien Chazelle is no stranger to directing extraordinary films. With La La Land, he dances into the world of art and love, along with two other phenomenal actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Brilliant cinematography along with sublime dream sequences helps the film stand out from the rest. Stone and Gosling are fantastic on screen, their chemistry wins the hearts of the audience, who cannot help but grin sheepishly as the story progresses. In this musical, the actors thrive as they use the art of singing and dancing to convey their emotions. Los Angeles is the city of stars and sparkle- it is nothing short of a fairy-tale. The exquisite beauty has a hint of sadness which is a result of Chazelle’s genius.
La La Land documents the love story of Sebastian Wilder, a jazz pianist striving to realise his dream of opening his jazz bar, and Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress. They are both trying to make a living for themselves in Los Angeles while acting out their respective roles in the musical. They are young and passionate, and very much in love but are uncertain of a future together. Life is not necessarily a fairy-tale with a happy ending and all actions have consequences. They meet again after five years where Mia is married to David, and Sebastian has his jazz bar. He plays their love theme one last time; they share a knowing smile, and the film ends on this touching note. Chazelle also pays tribute to nearly all the predecessors and is an ingenious exhibition of visuals and sound that is bound to make the audience laugh, cry, and fall in and out of love at the same time.
“I’m letting life hit me until it gets tired. Then I’ll hit back. It’s a classic rope-a-dope.”