Ranked: Ryan Gosling Movies, From Worst to Best

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Gosling's back with Neil Armstrong biopic 'First Man.' But how does it stack up to his previous work? Newsweek

The 2016 musical La La Land wooed audiences and even won a Best Picture Oscar (if only for about 10 seconds). Now director Damien Chazelle has reunited with leading man Ryan Gosling for the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, which examines the astronaut’s spectacular mission to the Moon, as well as his fraught personal life back on earth.

But, as you might have come to expect from Gosling, this is no jingoistic, flag-planting exercise in American patriotism. "We were so interested in the duality of their lives," Gosling recently told GQ, "how these astronauts were using their flashlight of scientific knowledge to explore the vast mysteries of space, and at the same time, they would have to come home and mow the lawn and take out the trash.”

While Gosling is now associated with these expansive, prestigious Hollywood movies, it wasn't always the case. He began his career as a Disney Mouseketeer, moving from his native Canada to Florida at age 12. After a youthful career as a TV actor, he graduated to movies in 2000 with a role in the football drama Remember the Titans. However it was his second movie, The Believer, which caught people’s attention. His part as a Jewish neo-Nazi was called a “dynamite performance” by Variety.

The subsequent role as the lead in the 2004 smash-hit romcom The Notebook turned him from a leading man into a sex symbol. Appearing as a caring-but-hot teacher in Half Nelson and then as a hopelessly romantic hipster in Blue Valentine built on this image. Along with the seemingly collective realization that his last name means ‘baby goose,’ he became the poster boy for a new sensitive breed of heartthrob, as immortalized in the “Hey Girl” memes still lurking in the corners of the internet.

Gosling swiftly moved on from the hysteria surrounding his hotness, partially thanks to the ultra-violent 2011 action movie Drive, which reminded everyone that there was more to him than meets the eye. He’s since gone on to star in big-budget but slightly leftfield Hollywood productions, such as Terrence Malik’s Song to Song and Blade Runner 2049, and even directed his own arthouse movie Lost River in 2014.

Using data from movie review aggregation websites Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, we’ve listed all the movies Gosling has appeared in, from worst to best—including his new movie, First Man.

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24. Only God Forgives (2013). Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Total score: 48.7%
Metacritic score: 37. Rotten Tomatoes score: 52. IMDb score: 57.
Summary: Julian (Ryan Gosling), a respected figure in the criminal underworld of Bangkok, runs a Thai boxing club and smuggling ring with his brother Billy. Billy is suddenly murdered and their crime lord matriarch, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives from London to bring back the body. When Jenna forces Julian to settle the score with his brother's killers, Julian finds himself in the ultimate showdown.
Radius-TWC
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What the critics said about Only God Forgives: "Refn's nerve is admirable, even if his film often borders on unwatchable"—San Francisco Chronicle Radius-TWC
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23. Stay (2005). Directed by Marc Forster. Total score: 52%
Metacritic score: 41. Rotten Tomatoes score: 46. IMDb score: 69.
Summary: Marc Forster's psychological thriller Stay stars Ewan McGregor as Sam Foster, a psychologist who begins to feel his grip on reality slipping away because of one of his patients. Ryan Gosling plays Henry Letham, a patient who has been offering disturbing predictions that have come true. When he claims that Henry will kill himself in three days, the psychiatrist sets off on a journey to help him.
20th Century Fox
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What the critics said about Stay: "There's a lot of talent at work here from the cast to the screenwriter to the director and the visuals, but it's all so arbitrary and cheap and the payoff is so, so lame"—Ebert & Roeper 20th Century Fox
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22. The United States of Leland (2003). Directed by The United States of Leland. Total score: 52.3%
Metacritic score: 37. Rotten Tomatoes score: 49. IMDb score: 71.
Summary: Ryan Gosling plays Leland, an imprisoned teenager doing time for the stabbing murder of a disabled boy. Prison writing teacher Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle) gets caught up in the story with the intention of making a book out of it, especially when he finds out that Leland's father is the famous novelist Albert Fitzgerald (Kevin Spacey).
Paramount Classics
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What the critics said about The United States of Leland: "[Hoge] spends an awful lot of time trying to get us to understand Leland and almost none trying to get us to understand his victim"—Chicago Reader Paramount Classics
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21. Gangster Squad (2013). Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Total score: 52.3%
Metacritic score: 40. Rotten Tomatoes score: 50. IMDb score: 67.
Summary: Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and-if he has his way-every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop...except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling).
Warner Bros.
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What the critics said about Gangster Squad: "Despite a cast of gifted actors, lush 1940s production design and suave costumes, it's bereft of inspiration, plowing familiar terrain past the point of tedium to impatience"—Minneapolis Star Tribune Warner Bros.
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20. Murder by Numbers (2002). Directed by Barbet Schroeder. Total score: 54.7%
Metacritic score: 50. Rotten Tomatoes score: 53. IMDb score: 61.
Summary: The body of a young woman is found in a ditch in the woods of the small California coastal town of San Benito. Cassie Mayweather, the seasoned homicide detective and tenacious crime scene specialist is assigned to the case with her new partner uncover. They discover a trail of shrewdly concealed evidence that links two brilliant young men to the murder.
Warner Bros.
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What the critics said about Murder by Numbers: "The outline of Murder by Numbersmay be familiar, but the filmmakers and Bullock do an expert job of filling in the colors"—Chicago Tribune Warner Bros.
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19. Song to Song (2017). Directed by Terrence Malick. Total score: 54.7%
Metacritic score: 54. Rotten Tomatoes score: 53. IMDb score: 57.
Summary: In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples—struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress whom he ensnares (Natalie Portman)—chase success through a rock 'n' roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.
Broad Green Pictures