"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ryan Gosling: Movie Star?

The Ides of March
I've watched two movies, The Ides of March and Drive, in less than a week and instead of reviewing them separately, I'm going to blog about the star of both films, Ryan Gosling.  I'm struck by how much of the movies is dominated by Gosling's performance.  In both cases, it holds the films together.  Gosling's character in The Ides of March, Stephen Meyers, is a wide-eyed idealist who believes in the work he does to make sure his candidate gets elected into office.  The other characters in the film, especially Paul Giamatti's Duffy and Marisa Tomei's reporter Ida, exploit him for their own means.  Yet however in the end, Stephen learns a cold hard truth how what it takes to survive in the political world.  I love the scene of him finally confronting George Clooney's Mike Morris about his indiscretions.  Both of them are assuming something about each other but in that one instant you can see in his eyes when Stephen crosses over the line, there's no going back after this.  In a movie featuring George Clooney, who probably has his picture next to the dictionary definition of movie star, Ryan Gosling manages to captivate the audience with his rendition of up-and-coming campaign manager.  A truly leading man performance.

On the other end of the spectrum, Gosling also starred in Drive, a movie so exhilarating and thrilling that kept us on the edge of our seats wondering what was going to happen next.  Gosling's character "the Kid" or the "Driver" is a man of a few words instead letting his actions speak for him.  When he does speak though, he is clear on what he means.  With an pulsating retro soundtrack, the story takes us from the Driver's solitary existence of him and his cars to being involved with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son.  He becomes emotionally entangled and it's hard for him to walk away when their lives are placed in danger when Irene's husband returns home from prison.  What follows is a chain of events set up so that no one character is safe, no one can be trusted.  But we do know this, we trust the Driver.  The director, Nicholas Winding Refn, and Gosling are to make another film together and hopefully it'll be another thrill ride like Drive.  Lastly, we have to discuss the Driver's "driving attire", the gloves and the golden scorpion jacket.  Not everyone can pull that off but it works well on Gosling.

Crazy, Stupid, Love
But wait, there's more!  The Ides of March and Drive weren't Gosling's only films of the year.  He also had a surprise summer hit in Crazy, Stupid, Love where he plays a ladies man who helps Steve Carell's character turn his life around after his divorce.  The film was hilarious and for once, it was nice to see Ryan not play a heavy loaded character whose backstory could fill a whole book.  I wish occasionally the serious actors like Leonardo DiCaprio or Daniel Craig would try their hands at a comedy or a lighter role once in a while.  Of course, Gosling played his role as seriously as he would any other role which makes it all the more better and funnier.

But despite all his success in 2011, Ryan Gosling couldn't garner an Oscar nomination for either of his movies.  As I mentioned in my Oscar nominations' reaction post, he is still young and he was previously nominated before for Half Nelson and I'm pretty certain he's going to get the opportunity again to win.  Until then, we can just appreciate the earnestness of his recent performances.

Lars and the Real Girl
P.S.- If you have time, consider renting Lars and the Real Girl, my favorite of Ryan Gosling's performances.  Extremely endearing and touching!  

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