The 16 Best Ryan Gosling Movies, from ‘The Fall Guy’ and ‘Drive’ to ‘Barbie’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’

[Editor’s note: this list was originally published in July 2023, and has since been updated.]

Ryan Gosling has that Ken-ergy. He’s Ken out of Ken. He’s Kendlessly Kentertaining. He’s the Kend all, be all. He’s the Kenvy of other actors. He’s impossible to not Kenjoy. He’s more, much more, than Kenough.

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Gosling has had a long, fruitful career, but it’s safe to say that he’s never committed to a role as hard as he’s committed to the bit that was the “Barbie” press tour. Every interview and soundbite the Canadian actor gave in the publicity run for Greta Gerwig’s take on the iconic Mattel toy line has launched meme after meme, as he’s spoken about the importance of telling the tragic story of Barbie’s beau Ken. It’s a commitment that’s only seconded by his performance in the film itself, where he goes for broke with a hilarious, oblivious, and often sweet turn opposite Margot Robbie‘s titular doll. It serves as a reminder to audiences: this Ken has range.

A two-time Oscar nominee, Gosling was only 13 when he entered show business as one of the stars of Disney Channel’s “The Mickey Mouse Club,” bumping shoulders with future pop icons like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. After floating around as a child actor and young star for several years — with roles in “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” as a kid and “Remember the Titans” as an adult — he hit legit stardom in 2004, when he made a romantic leading man debut in “The Notebook.” The movie established his credentials as a heartthrob, and Gosling cashed that check to do a ton of interesting work.

The “Barbie” actor has had a varied career, equally at home in brooding dramas as he is in fizzy romantic comedies. He’s received two Lead Actor Oscar nominations for very different films — scrappy indie drama “Half Nelson” and big budget musical spectacular “La La Land.” He was hunky and charming in films like “Crazy Stupid Love,” and nerdy and charming in films like “Lars and the Real Girl.” He was heartbreakingly tender and vulnerable in his two Derek Cianfrance’s collaborations: “Blue Valentine” and “The Place Beyond the Pines.” And he’s brooded like nobody’s ever brooded before as the tough guy in numerous dramas, from “Drive” to “Blade Runner 2049.” That’s not to say Gosling hasn’t had his flops (the less said about “The Gray Man” or “Gangster Squad,” the better), but he’s had an impressive batting average.

What makes Gosling such a versatile screen presence? Part of it is his beauty; his handsome looks could threaten to cross over to blandsome, but it instead makes him a malleable canvas for a variety of stories. His charm feels real and authentic, making him perfect for comedies, but his ability to convey his character’s internal lives with just a pair of sad eyes also perfectly suits the brooding, haunted roles that rank among his very best.

In celebration of his new film “The Fall Guy,” IndieWire rounded up and ranked the Canadian’s 16 greatest film roles. The films are ranked not necessarily by their quality, but by the quality of Gosling’s performance in them. Read on for the ranking we wish could have been a beach-off.

Check out IndieWire’s guide to The Best Margot Robbie Movies.

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