HomeOur ObsessionsLa La Bland: Ranking Ryan Gosling’s most vanilla roles ever

La La Bland: Ranking Ryan Gosling’s most vanilla roles ever

'First Man' is just the next in a long line of bland roles for Ryan Gosling. Here’s a ranking of ten of his most vanilla roles to date.

La La Bland: Ranking Ryan Gosling’s most vanilla roles ever

Promoting what was probably the first movie about a jazzman in space, Ryan Gosling & Damien Chazelle made a surprise appearance at CinemaCon last year to introduce the first trailer for their Neil Armstrong biopic First Man.

Predictably, the footage starts with Armstrong (Gosling) singing a lullaby to his baby daughter, sharing “intimate glances” with his wife Janet (Claire Foy), and dancing with her. Of course, there’s also footage detailing Armstrong’s daunting task as the savior of waning American morale as he stoically accepts the opportunity to go into space even if it might kill him.

The first photos of Ryan Gosling in 'First Man' – a biopic of Neil Armstrong – are out. Will Gosling be able to launch himself into the list of other great on-screen astronauts? Let’s take a look at the competition with our ranking of the seven best astronauts in cinema history.

When he isn’t slaughtering people on screen for Nicolas Winding Refn or playing a hapless drunk detective for Shane Black, Gosling more often than not seems to veer towards these extremely saccharine roles that require he sing cute songs, gaze adoringly at beautiful women, and/or act as inoffensively as possible. Here’s a ranking of ten of Gosling’s most vanilla roles to date.

10. Hercules: Young Hercules (1998 – 1999)

Playing a warrior with a serious stick up his butt about strong women, Gosling’s teenage Hercules was the most polite version of a supposedly ass-kicking hero ever committed to TV.

9. Jacob: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Playing some sort of pick-up artist who educates a middle-aged man (Steve Carell) about the ladies, Gosling essentially portrays a set of abs in a fine suit. We aren’t complaining particularly, but writer Dan Fogelman (Danny Collins) may as well have had him depicting a loaf of white bread.

8. K: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

With the exception of Bane (Tom Hardy) in The Dark Knight Rises, nobody cruel, edgy, or evil could possibly wear a coat that nice with such swaggering finesse. That was our core takeaway from Gosling’s performance in Denis Villeneuve’s film: he wears that coat well.

7. Dean: Blue Valentine (2010)

Granted, there’s nothing vanilla about Derek Cianfrance’s savage anti-romance movie. But it does feature a scene in which Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) tap dances to a quaint ditty Gosling plays on the ukulele, which we think speaks for itself.

6. BV: Song to Song (2017)

Pushing twee to new levels in Terrence Malick’s misfire of a music movie, Gosling is most notable for singing a lacklustre love song with quirky Swedish pop goddess Lykke Li. It’s a breathy sludge of an ode that sounds like something you’d hear squealing through a lawn ornament on a windy day.

5. Sean Hanlon: Breaker High (1997-1998)

The intro to this short-lived Canadian teen show is all you need to really know about Gosling’s young character in it. He plays a kid who lives on a cruise ship with a bunch of other entitled nightmares (probably called Chad & Biff) and boasts one of those classic “I’m a teen idol” floppy curtain hairstyles every young girl of the 90s would have sold their My Little Pony collection to touch.

4. Stephen Meyers: The Ides of March (2011)

Playing a jittery apprehensive campaign press secretary who’s most definitely in the wrong line of business, Gosling spends much of the movie explaining why he can’t or shouldn’t do things and furrowing his brow at things he doesn’t believe in. Like George Clooney’s acting ability. Zing!

3. Noah: The Notebook (2004)

Besides the fact that Noah is probably the most toxic love interest of any romantic movie ever (way to threaten suicide to get a girl to go out with you, bro), he’s also just a bit limp beneath all of that passionate rage.

Imagine Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) from A Streetcar Named Desire if he drank juice boxes instead of whiskey and stormed off in a quiet huff instead of screaming Allie’s (Rachel McAdams) name in the middle of the night and ripping his shirt open with pure discordant ador.

2. Sebastian: La La Land (2016)

He likes jazz a lot! He refuses to go mainstream and make money because it’ll compromise his cool jazz cred! He inevitably forgoes his cool jazz cred to go mainstream and become a total ass! At some point he also falls in love with some actor (Emma Stone) but decides his true love is actually jazz. Jazz, everyone! He loves it!

1. Lars Lindstrom: Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

In Craig Gillespie’s quirky indie dramedy, Gosling plays a young, lonely, delusional man who strikes up a romance with a doll he finds on the internet. Do we really need to add anything further?

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co