Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Ryan Gosling got his big break in 1993 on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" (alongside up-and-coming superstars like Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera) and within a decade managed to rise through the ranks to become one of the biggest Hollywood heartthrobs (and, let's be honest, our favorite internet meme). To celebrate the Oct. 12, 2018, release of his latest film, "First Man," in which he plays astronaut Neil Armstrong, Wonderwall.com is ranking all of his big-screen roles from good to totally great. Keep reading to find out where your favorite character landed on our very attractive list…
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No. 23: Jared Vennett in "The Big Short"
Here's what we do know about Ryan Gosling's character, Jared Vennett, in the 2015 biographical dramedy "The Big Short": He's a smart Deutsche Bank salesman and he's the narrator of the film that's about, um, well, something to do with the collapse of the housing market. The movie, which sought to explain subprime lending and how a few Wall Street billionaires made big money off the housing market's inevitable crash, was two hours and 10 minutes of investment jargon we couldn't quite understand (and we weren't alone in our misery). Even if we weren't sure what was happening, we didn't mind watching Ryan and his equally talented co-stars (Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Steve Carell) do their thing (whatever that thing actually was) on-screen. Proof that Ryan slayed the part came when he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance the following year.
No. 22: Alan Bosley in "Remember the Titans"
The 2000 historical biography "Remember the Titans" was a phenomenal movie (it really was) and Ryan Gosling's character, Alan Bosley (seen here in the center), was one of the bright spots of the film. Happy-go-lucky Alan was sweet, a little goofy (remember that dorm room dance?) and one of the few football players who didn't have a problem playing alongside his African-American teammates (hashtag woke). While Ryan wasn't yet a major star (or even the star of this film), we knew he was something special to behold.
No. 21: Julian in "Only God Forgives"
Perhaps the one saving grace of "Only God Forgives" is Ryan Gosling's character, Julian. In the painfully slow-paced film, Julian is a drug trafficker who's called upon by his mother (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) to take the life of the man who killed his brother (spoiler alert: His brother was an evil, woman-beating murderer who deserved to die). The movie was widely panned by critics but there is something exciting about watching good-guy Ryan transform into a very, very bad man on screen.
No. 20: Leland in "The United States of Leland"
It's hard to believe there's only one year between the release of "The United States of Leland" and "The Notebook" because Ryan Gosling looks about 10 years younger in the first film as Leland — a young man sent to a juvenile detention center for stabbing an autistic boy to death. What's fascinating about 15-year-old Leland is that even though he committed an unthinkable crime, there's something magnetic about him that makes us want him to succeed against all odds. For us, it's proof that Ryan can redeem even the worst of characters.
No. 19: BV in "Song to Song"
Although "Song to Song" felt like a dream (and sometimes a nightmare), Ryan Gosling's character, BV — a struggling songwriter in love with a woman named Faye (played by Rooney Mara) — was the cool drink of water we needed to wash down the excess sound (lots of concerts in this film) and imagery overload. While the movie itself wasn't our favorite, we believed BV as he searched for meaning in a harsh, loud and volatile world.
No. 18: David Marks in "All Good Things"
"All Good Things" is a haunting tale of an unsolved murder. The story, which is based on a real-life case, features Ryan Gosling as young real estate heir David Marks, who falls in love with a working-class girl named Katie (played by Kirsten Dunst). Their idyllic love life is shattered when Katie goes missing and all fingers point to David. As is true for many of Ryan's movies, his transformation from the young man in love to a potential murderer is hauntingly believable.
No. 17: Roy Chutney in "The Slaughter Rule"
In the 2002 indie film "The Slaughter Rule," Ryan Gosling played Roy Chutney, a teenager in despair who loses his father (possibly to suicide) and then his place on his beloved high school football team. The reason we loved Ryan as Roy was due to his emotional depth and resilience, even when life dealt him a terrible hand. We also enjoyed the complexities of his budding friendship with an older man named Gideon (played by David Morse), who steps in as the father figure Roy so desperately needed.
No. 16: Henry Letham in "Stay"
The 2005 psychological thriller "Stay" left us all questioning our reality. Ryan Gosling had us in the palm of his edgy, unstable hand as Henry, a suicidal (and potentially psychic) young man on a mission to end his life on his 21st birthday the same way his favorite painter did. His psychologist, Dr. Sam Foster (played by Ewan McGregor), tries to do everything he can to stop Henry. The only problem is he's not able to tell the difference between what's real, what's not, who's alive and who's already dead.
No. 15: Richard Haywood in "Murder By Numbers"
Okay, we'll just admit it now: We love it when Ryan Gosling plays the villain. In the 2002 crime thriller "Murder By Numbers," Ryan plays a preppy, popular and very rich high schooler named Richard Haywood. Richard isn't content having it all, so he teams up with the class nerd to plot what they call the "perfect murder." The pair go through with their horrific plan, setting up an innocent man in the process, all to watch what happens when detectives (like Sandra Bullock's character) scramble to solve the case.
No. 14: Dean in "Blue Valentine"
Ryan Gosling's character in "Blue Valentine," Dean, has a lot working against him. He's a slacker, a high school dropout and has no real ambition in life. However, his love for his wife, Cindy (played by Michelle Williams), is his one redeeming quality and he truly loves her, through all their struggles and challenges, even when he's walking away from the life they once shared. Ryan earned his first Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
No. 13: Driver in "Drive"
2017 gave us "Baby Driver," but six years earlier, we had the darker Ryan Gosling version with the movie "Drive." In the film, Ryan plays Driver, a young man who stunt drives for films while also selling his talent for fast, evasive driving to criminals. Like most characters Ryan plays, Driver has a good heart behind his bad behavior, which is in full force when he falls in love with a young single mom (played by Carey Mulligan).
No. 12: Stephen Meyers in "The Ides of March"
In the 2011 political drama "The Ides of March," Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, the press secretary for the hopeful Democratic presidential candidate (played by George Clooney) — a man who Stephen believes is above dirty political maneuvering. Stephen is pulled into a scandal after he makes a critical mistake and later discovers the man he's stood proudly behind to help become the next U.S. president isn't who he claimed to be. The film also co-stars Marisa Tomei (seen here). Ryan earned Golden Globe and Critics' Choice nominations for his performance.
No. 11: Holland March in "The Nice Guys"
Ryan Gosling's character Holland March in the 2016 crime comedy "The Nice Guys" is one of the most lovable (and, at times, laughable) roles he's ever played. Holland is a private investigator who's also an alcoholic and a single dad to a cheeky preteen who behaves a lot more like his mom than his daughter. He's forced to pair up with another private eye, a more rough and tumble kind of guy (played by Russell Crowe), to help track down a young woman who's gone missing. In the process, the two incur the wrath of the mob and more than a few dead bodies (much to Holland's hilarious dismay). Ryan earned a Critics' Choice Award nomination for his performance.
No. 10: Danny Balint in "The Believer"
In the 2001 drama "The Believer," Ryan Gosling plays a man named Danny Balint — a Jewish New York college student who struggles conforming to his faith (which eventually leads him to turn against his religion and, unbelievably, join the KKK). The movie is loosely based on the true story of Dan Burros, who was discovered to be Jewish by clansmen shortly before he took his own life. The shocking storyline showcased Ryan's talent for portraying dramatic, complex characters long before he was a household name.
No. 9: Jacob in "Crazy, Stupid, Love"
We either wanted to be Ryan Gosling's character Jacob in the 2011 dramatic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love" or we wanted to date him (and at times, oddly, it felt like both). Jacob was the intensely confident mentor to Steve Carell's character, Cal — a man in the midst of a divorce who had no idea how to form a romantic connection with women. As Jacob taught Cal how to make the ladies swoon, he also found his own (secretive) love story with Cal's daughter, Hannah (played by Emma Stone).
No. 8: Willy Beachum in "Fracture"
In the 2007 crime thriller "Fracture," Ryan Gosling (seen here with co-star Rosamund Pike) played a hotshot prosecutor named Willy Beachum whose final case against a confessed murderer (played by Anthony Hopkins) might just be his undoing. Willy's flawless record takes a hit when he's outwitted by the man he's trying to convict, but even when the case is closed, he won't sleep until he's figured out how a man could kill his wife, admit it and walk free. As expected, Ryan delivered a multifaceted character who wasn't just a show-off in the courtroom, but a passionate vigilante for truth.
No. 7: Sgt. Jerry Wooters in "Gangster Squad"
In 2013's "Gangster Squad," Ryan Gosling played the squeaky-voiced Sgt. Jerry Wooters, a man who joins a secretive police task force (led by Josh Brolin's character, Sgt. John O'Mara), which was formed to take out the city's most violent mob boss, Mickey Cohen (played by Sean Penn). What Jerry lacks in vocal chords he makes up for in gun (and fore) play, shooting down some of the most notorious gangsters in L.A. while seducing Grace Faraday (played by Emma Stone) — a woman with intimate ties to the crime boss. Ryan shines in the movie as a (basically) good guy who isn't afraid to play dirty — and we loved every minute of it.
No. 6: Noah in "The Notebook"
Forgive us for not making Ryan Gosling's swoon-worthy character Noah from "The Notebook" our No. 1 choice — but we promise, however hard it is to believe, Ryan's played even more amazing roles than this. For now, we'll wax poetic about the beautiful love story between Noah and Allie (played by Rachel McAdams) and how life tried to tear them apart, but their hearts couldn't beat without one another. Sappy and saccharine sweet? Of course. Will we watch this movie 100 more times and still get teary-eyed? Absolutely. Fun fact: Not only was this the movie that launched Ryan's amazing mainstream career in Hollywood, but it was also responsible for introducing him to Rachel, who he reportedly "couldn't stand" at first but later fell in love with and dated for three long years.
No. 5: K in "Blade Runner 2049"
As of November 2017, Ryan Gosling's newest film, "Blade Runner 2049," was still in theaters, so if you haven't had a chance to watch it, you should. Ryan plays K — a blade runner (that's the cool word for "assassin") who uncovers a secret so powerful, it could be the undoing of society as he knows it. K is forced to track down Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, from the original "Blade Runner" movie in 1982), who's been missing for 30 years. A major bonus to this sci-fi adventure is all the kick-a– fighting scenes that let Ryan (ahem, K) be the total hero of the future.
No. 4: Luke in "The Place Beyond the Pines"
In the 2012 crime drama "A Place Beyond the Pines," Ryan Gosling played Luke, a motorcycle stuntman who lives life in the fast lane. Everything changes when he finds out he's fathered a newborn baby. Committed to providing for the mother and his child, Luke uses his talent for speed in a string of bank robberies. While he's made good on his promise to bring home cash, a persistent detective is determined to track him down and make him face justice. We love the intensity of this film almost as much as we love the fact that Ryan met his future girlfriend and real-life baby mama, Eva Mendes, while making the movie. (Plus, not gonna lie, Ryan is super-sexy covered in tattoos.)
No. 3: Dan Dunne in "Half Nelson"
Ryan Gosling earned his first Oscar nomination for his performance in the 2006 drama "Half Nelson" as Dan Dunne — an eighth-grade history teacher and girls basketball coach who's awakened his students' desire to learn (very "Dangerous Minds" stuff here) but at the same time, is battling with his own demons (namely, a crack addiction). His life is a balancing act that threatens to come unhinged when one of his students catches him smoking crack in the girls' locker room. From that moment, a strange but uplifting friendship emerges between the teacher and 13-year-old girl that gives them both hope for their otherwise bleak futures. Ryan was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance.
No. 2: Sebastian in "La La Land"
Ryan Gosling delivered his second Academy Award-nominated performance in the 2016 musical dramedy "La La Land" (which paired him once again with the lovely Emma Stone). In the film, Ryan plays Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own nightclub. His world is transformed into something magical when he meets (and keeps bumping into) a beautiful, struggling actress named Mia (played by Emma). Theirs is a story of love, big dreams and perhaps even more so, of loss. Ryan won his first Golden Globe Award for this performance.
No. 1: Lars Lindstrom in "Lars and the Real Girl"
Had Ryan Gosling never starred as socially awkward Lars Lindstrom in the 2007 romantic dramedy "Lars and the Real Girl," well, we're not sure our lives would be as complete. The movie is about a painfully shy young man who is beloved by his family and community but struggles to make meaningful romantic connections. After being pressured for years to talk to girls, Lars shows up at his brother's house one day with a guest. The only problem? She's a sex doll he ordered off the internet and he seems to believe she's a real person. Afraid that Lars is going crazy, his brother seeks the advice of a doctor who tells him to "play along" and soon enough, the entire town is in on the charade. Lars is so lovable and quirky but at the same time so deeply flawed and hurting that we were shocked this wasn't the role that won Ryan his first Oscar. Say what you will about his performances in "La La Land" and "Half Nelson," but we're dead serious that Lars was the the character Ryan was born to play, which is why this is our No. 1 pick.