“And the winner for Best Actor in a Leading Role is … Casey Affleck for ‘Manchester by the Sea.'”
The camera zooms to Affleck as he stands up and acts surprised by the result (he has won this award at every other awards show this year, besides the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, won by Denzel Washington). He hugs director Kenneth Lonergan, co-star Michelle Williams, who was nominated for Actress in a Supporting Role, and brother Ben Affleck before making his way to the stage for his acceptance speech.
The camera also scans the audience looking for the other nominees, two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, two-time nominee Viggo Mortensen, 2010 Oscar winner Jeff Bridges and Ryan Gosling, star of the wildly adored musical love letter to the city of Los Angeles entitled “La La Land.”
Gosling smiles and claps for Affleck, acknowledging the performance his colleague delivered in one of the most celebrated films of the year. This is now the second time Gosling has combed his hair and put on his best tuxedo hoping to hear his name called for the industry’s top prize but has walked away empty handed.
Gosling was previously nominated 10 years ago for his role in “Half Nelson,” where he played a struggling, drug-addicted, inner-city middle school teacher who forms a unique friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.
Gosling has been here before, and my gut tells me he will be back again and will eventually get to hold that golden statue that has eluded him twice now.
Before we look forward to what might be ahead for Gosling, it helps to look back and notice that his performances in “La La Land” and “Half Nelson” are not anomalies, but simply Gosling challenging himself as an actor.
In 2010, a few years removed from his teen heartthrob performance in Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook,” he delivered a brilliant performance in “Blue Valentine,” where his character struggled to keep the spark alive in a dying marriage. Nominated for the Golden Globe for his performance, his role never got much traction with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In 2011, he delivered equally dynamic performances in “The Ides of March” and in Nicholas Winding Refn’s neo-noir crime film “Drive.” From dealing with the secret ins and outs of the campaign trail to managing the shadowy Los Angeles crime life, Gosling delivers both immense conviction and flawless execution.
The following year, Gosling re-teamed with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance for “Place Beyond the Pines.” Despite giving another terrific performance alongside Eva Mendes and Bradley Cooper, once again not much attention was given to it by the Academy.
In 2014, Gosling got behind the camera, making his directorial debut with the film “Lost River.” Despite its lackluster appeal to critics, it highlighted Gosling’s bold and daring skillset in Hollywood.
He executes the comedic roles as well, with performances in 2015’s “The Big Short” and alongside Russell Crowe in 2016’s “The Nice Guys.”
Gosling’s resume to this point is impressive. It just needs a golden statue to cement the legacy.
Looking forward, Gosling stars alongside Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender, all of whom have either won or been nominated for an Academy Award themselves, in Terence Malick’s Austin music scene film “Song to Song,” which premieres March 10 at South by Southwest Music and Film Festival. He also stars in the long awaited “Blade Runner” sequel alongside Harrison Ford and Jared Leto.
Perhaps his best chance to get the coveted prize will be his portrayal of legendary American astronaut Neil Armstrong in the upcoming film “First Man.” It re-teams Gosling with “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, who has already proven he can get the best out of Gosling on set.
I encourage you that if you’re only familiar with Gosling through his days on the Mickey Mouse Club with Justin Timberlake, him confessing his love to Rachel McAdams in the pouring rain, his “Hey Girl” memes or most recently this third go round, singing and dancing to stardom in “La La Land,” it’s time to branch out and see his full and vast acting repertoire.
Keep your head up Ryan, I still see gold in your future.