ryan gosling, the boys an oscar favourite; finally. (no, half nelson doesn’t count, he didn’t win it did he?)
to quote a fellow tmrw writer niall flynn “write what you like”, and i like ryan gosling. for too long gosling has been grafting to build something more than a pretty boy image. in his tenor on the big screen he’s rolled through the rolls, bad boy, drunkard, disturbed, drug addict, investment banker (in order of which I’d rather be). now he’s come full circle to find himself in the role of heartthrob in la la land, except this time, there’s a certain shiny gold ornament being talked about. it’s time mr gosling gets the recognition he deserves before his potential big day this february.
the world has missed a trick with gosling, it has to be said. the notebook arguably made the canadian’s career as much as it stunted it, as he fell face first into a rom-com stereotype. since then however, he’s been fighting to relieve himself of this burden, and convince hollywood, and the world, he’s the last of a dying breed, the leading man.
drive is the film gosling should be known for, if you haven’t seen it, go and watch it, then come back after you’ve picked up your jaw from the ground. he and nicolas winding refn worked to create something that reflects gosling’s career as a whole so far, vastly underrated. this is the model son or daughter of a marriage between artistic film work and gory, bloody action-thriller masterpieces. a misleading trailer shot this film in the foot before it even got started if were honest, it got a mixed bag of reviews as a result, people expected something pumped full of gosling bravado, but got something better, they just didn’t know it.
i like to use analogies, so here’s an analogy. gosling delivers a character that reminds me of those children’s toys, where you fit the shapes into the gaps, and once the final one goes in, they all spring out. in short, gosling is disturbed from the off, he barely speaks, he’s a man ‘one shape’ from erupting, and gosling seems like he spent too long around these toys as a child to conveys this so well.
so, how does gosling do silent so well? gosling’s reliance on body language to present a rigged and disturbed exterior in this film, makes the moments he does speak, all the more satisfying.
take the scene where he meets the investor in the stock car. we begin with the beautiful irony of bryan crannston’s character telling gosling not to talk too much about the car, even though, by this point, gosling has barely spoken in the film. gosling’s use of silence ends up becoming an advantage of the film, not just filling out a character trait, something i find it very hard to believe many other actors could do. following this, comes the most beautiful use of double meaning i’ve ever witnessed, gosling again uses his awkwardness to leave a lingering look at albert brooks’ hand (the investor) before saying “my hands are kinda dirty”, at which point brooks replies “so are mine”. in that moment, the characters are given such depth, in such few words, and gosling is at the centre of it, like all things right with this film.
but alas a man cannot be a great on one film alone, but thank god for the nice guys. “blah blah he doesn’t lead because crowe is acting alongside him yada yada” you’ll tell me. wrong. if you’re of that opinion, ask yourself what crowe adds to this film. answer: not much other than brute force. this is an american equivalent to the great cornetto trilogy, but gosling has to do all the work.
it shows great acting ability to get a laugh without sound these days, it’s what the aforementioned cornetto trilogy does so well, but gosling aces it in the nice guys. to be honest, if you didn’t cry of laughter watching gosling drunkenly try to shout for crowe’s help down at the bottom of a hill, i worry for your sanity. or what about the beautiful scene where he attempts to open his toilet stool with a gun in one hand, a cigarette in his mouth, and a broken arm. this isn’t slapstick; this is perfectly orchestrated visual humour. it’s become a trending theme in gosling’s work by this point, he says a lot, without saying much at all, the sign of a truly great actor.
also, he’s extremely good at acting drunk in this film, like, i think he was secretly on the bevvy for most scenes.
there’s definitely a case to be made for other works by gosling, he’s become a king of niche performances it has to be said. of course in half nelson, his one and only oscar nomination, he plays a drugged up teacher with far too many issues to count on two hands. we also have the case of the big short, where it has to be said, gosling plays a character that suits him all too well. have you ever seen so much attitude in a suit and tie, because i hadn’t until gosling brought it to the table in the big short. sass is definitely a trait a leading man needs, and gosling shows he’s got in a abundance.
so now comes the oscar hype for a film which hasn’t hit the UK’s silver screens. gosling is the leading man, as he should be, and stars alongside emma stone which is always a good thing when it comes to golden ornaments (see birdman).
dear oscar people, take it upon yourselves to give this man a sticker, or one of those trophies you seem to like much. we get it, he’s canadian, but throw the kid a bone.
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Words by Alex Slater