There's no denying that this is Ryan Gosling's moment. After his standout performance alongside fellow indie darling Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, he scored roles in two of 2011's most anticipated and critically applauded efforts. One an ensemble piece, the other very much with Gosling in the spotlight, the actor has proved he can do it all, light-hearted romantic comedies (Crazy, Stupid Love), melodramatic love stories (The Notebook), hard-hitting drama (The Believer) and kick-ass action movies with grace (Drive). He started out as just another Mickey Mouse club export, and scored TV roles in Goosebumps and Young Hercules early on. Here, we check out the hits, misses and everything in-between in his slow and steady rise to being regarded as one of the best actors in the industry.
With the two big releases this weekend featuring star turns from a certain Mr. Ryan Gosling, we take a look back at the former Mouseketeer...
Though not really his first mainstream role, as he had a small part in Remember the Titans alongside Denzel Washington, The Believer
could be as difficult a starring role as anyone's attempted, let alone as their breakout performance. Playing a Jewish neo-Nazi, whose self-hatred leads him on a violent rampage before committing suicide, the story is loosely based on the true story of Daniel Burros, whose heritage was exposed in the New York Times in the 1960s. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance that year and Gosling won a legion of new admirers, describing it as "the film that kind of gift-wrapped for me the career that I have now."
Punch the air moment
After floundering slightly following his acclaim for The Believer, the actor really hit his stride with Half Nelson, the story of drug-addicted history teacher who forms a friendship with one of his students. Gosling received an Academy Award nomination for his impressive performance, and the film made many critics' best-of lists come the end of the year. Overall, Half Nelson could be the defining role of his early career, with a sympathetic and layered performance peppered with just the right amount of disturbance and ambiguity to pull off the seemingly obvious role. Typical leading man he is not.
Out of his comfort zone
The Notebook was Gosling's first baby-step into the mainstream Hollywood movie, with the schmaltzy Nicola Sparks adaptation now a favourite among legions of teenage girls and adult women alike. It tells the story of a young couple who fall in love during the 1940s, only to be separated by circumstances and pushy parents. Of course, the pair find each other again, and sweeping music and epic kisses in the rain ensue. It's a film that was largely critic proof, but the performances were praised over the simplistic storyline nonetheless. Gosling also dated his co-star, Rachel McAdams for several years afterwards, so no wonder there was chemistry.
Under the radar
The United States of Leland, about a mind-mannered teenage boy who commits a violent murder for reasons unknown, is a strange film that no one really knew what to think about upon release. With a unconventional storytelling method, and some good talent alongside (Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey), it should have been a doddle, but almost everyone was underwhelmed and confused. However, Gosling brings his same professionalism and poise to the role of Leland P. Fitzgerald, and it's worth seeing him co-star alongside Michelle Williams for the first time.
Would rather forget
A romantic mystery film inspired by the life of Robert Durst, All Good Things was marred by delayed release dates and rumours of various rifts from the start. Finally released on the same year as Gosling's other big movie, Blue Valentine, it was swept quickly aside, with Gosling apparently refusing to promote the movie amidst rumours he didn't get along with director, Andrew Jarecki. He did have great words to say about his co-star, Kirsten Dunst however, saying "I'm proud of what Kirsten does in the movie" when asked if he was happy with how it turned out.
How do you end the best year of your career after two massive hits? You take part in George Clooney's new movie of course, almost a sure-fire way to go out with a critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated bang. The Ides of March is due out in October, and sees Gosling star alongside Clooney in the political drama. He's also recently finished with heist movie The Place Beyond the Pines, and will be seen in The Gangster Squad, Only God Forgives and the remake of Logan's Run. It doesn't look like he'll be slowing down anytime soon.