Top 5: Jake Gyllenhaal Films

This week’s Top 5 Friday was chosen by @supershortreviews, give that page a follow!

This week, we’re taking a look at our favorite films starring Jake Gyllenhaal, in honor of the release of Nocturnal AnimalsJake Gyllenhaal has been one of my favorite actors for about 4 years now, beginning with my number one pick, but he’s always been somebody that I’ve liked watching because he seems very relatable and likable, as a portrayer of characters if not as a person himself. Without further adieu, here are my top five films starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

5) Source CodeLike I mentioned in my Underrated Sci-fi Films post, one thing I love about certain science fiction films is their ability to take an idea that sounds ridiculous and turn it into something that not only sounds cool, but believable. Even though this film is crazy and over-the-top, it still manages to stay smart and intimate at the same time. For the most part, the entirety of this film is either taking place on a train, or in a little room where Gyllenhaal’s character is secluded. Some could even argue this film as a “contained” film of sorts, which helps maintain it’s intimate feel. The story involves a man who (without spoiling anything) is being used by the military as a tool to stop a terrorist from blowing up a train. By use of the sci-fi technology described in the film, he is able to relive the moment up until the explosion over and over again until he can stop the attack (shares this idea with Edge of Tomorrow). It’s a very smart, tense and surprisingly endearing film about two characters who have nobody but each other, and the world seems against them (and will kill them unless they can stop it). Absolutely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

4) Donnie DarkoLet’s rewind to earlier in his career with this film, that catapulted him into the stardom he currently has. This film is about a kid who lives in a house that gets destroyed when a jet engine falls from the sky. The rest of the film is a strange and surreal trip involving audience manipulation and interpretation that will make the second viewing a completely different experience, and this one definitely needs to be studied to be understood, and therefore appreciated like it deserves. The story is intriguing but keeps you guessing as to just what is actually going on the entire time. If you haven’t seen this film, prepare to take notes while you watch it. Also, after you watch it, read my analysis of it (and films like it, including the aforementioned Source Code and Edge of Tomorrow) right here, but make sure you watch the film first because it will be spoiled. That’s all I will say, just go watch it!

3) NightcrawlerHere is a film I saw on opening night, and had not been more immersed in a film experience in a long time. In fact, I was so invested in the story, that after one scene was drawing to a close, I was thinking “okay, that’s the end of Act II, and here’s in the beginning of Act III,” at which point the closing credits started playing and I was shocked. I was so into the film that 2 hours had flown by without me realizing that it was any longer than maybe 80-90 minutes. The writing of the story and characters are what made this film interesting, but Gyllanhaal’s performance is what makes this film absolutely amazing. He is mesmerizing in the most terrifying ways; he even claimed to do his best to not blink at all in the film to add to the intensity and focus of his character… and it worked. This beautifully directed movie about a man who slowly becomes more and more insane to become famous is just fantastic and every way, and one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s definitely in my top 50.

2) ZodiacHere is a movie that was tied for me with Nightcrawler, but I chose to put this film higher on my list because it has been one of my favorite films for a good 8-10 years at this point, and solidified David Fincher as one of my favorite directors in history. Gyllenhaal stars in this film about the true story of the Zodiac killer who was never caught, and the media manhunt that tried for decades to get him. The film is haunting and atmospheric as hell; I was so immersed and wasn’t able to take my eyes off of the screen, very much like my Nightcrawler experience. Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo also give great performances as supporting characters who help Gyllenhaal’s newspaper cartoonist try to solve the puzzles and catch the killer. Of course, since it’s based on a true story, knowing the ending is something that just happens going in, but the 150 minutes leading up to that moment are the moments that matter most, and they are some of the most powerful moments in crime thriller films that you can see.

1) PrisonersHere is one of my Top 20 films ever made, and my favorite film of 2013 alongside GravityThis film is about Hugh Jackman‘s character, who’s daughter and her friend go missing, and it’s up to that obsessed father and a determined cop, Gyllenhaal, to track down the person who kidnapped them. This movie is completely full of amazing performances, and twists and turns that will keep you guessing incorrectly until the credits. Also, Denis Villeneuve introduces himself to American cinema in amazing ways, following up this film with Sicario and Arrivaland Blade Runner 2049 in just a few months. He made the greatest kidnapping film that I’ve ever seen, and directed Jackman and Gyllenhaal in their most vulnerable performances in their silver screen history. This is a film for the ages, and it’s a powerhouse masterpiece if ever there was one. See it, see it, see it, and see it again.

Anyways, that’s the list of my Top 5 Jake Gyllanhaal films. Thanks to Super Short Reviews for choosing the category, and thank you for reading! Comment your thoughts, share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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