In this article:
- Say what you will about Jake Gyllenhaal’s public beef with Taylor Swift, I think we can all agree that the guy is a pretty great actor.
- Born the son of a director and a screenwriter and the brother of a fellow Hollywood star, it was pretty much ordained that Jake Gyllenhaal would grow into the respected actor that he is today.
- This article will look at some of the best Jake Gyllenhaal movies from his long and fruitful career.
Regardless of where you stand on the whole beef between iconic actor Jake Gyllenhaal and pop-country singer Taylor Swift, I think we can all put our biases aside and admit that Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the most talented actors of our generation.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Gyllenhaal apparently did wrong by Swift in the events detailed in Swift’s song All Too Well. In fact, Gyllenhaal even commented recently on the virtual harassment he’s endured as a result of the song, saying, “At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name.”
Now, I’m not saying that I’m Team Gyllenhaal. And I’m certainly not saying that whatever happened between him and Taylor Swift is no big deal. However, I think that we can separate the artist and his art and have some appreciation for all of the fantastic films that Jake Gyllenhaal has been a part of without getting hung up on his love life.
Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal was basically born on a Hollywood set. His mother Naomi Foner was a screenwriter. His father Stephen Gyllenhaal was a director. And his older sister Maggie Gyllenhaal was already involved in acting by the time he was old enough to speak. So, it was sort of an inevitability that Jake Gyllenhaal would become the Hollywood dynamo that he is today.
From his first major role in the 1991 Western comedy City Slickers to his recent roles in The Guilty and Ambulance, Gyllenhaal has consistently delivered striking (and sometimes unsettling) performances on the big screen.
The Most Memorable Jake Gyllenhaal Movies
One of my favorite Jake Gyllenhaal movies starring has got to be Southpaw, the story of a middleweight boxer who grew up in the orphanage system and rose to greatness and massive amounts of money.
His entire life takes a turn when his wife is shot and killed at an event. In his anger over his wife’s death, Gyllenhaal’s character Billy Hope destroys his career, loses custody of his daughter, and has his gigantic mansion foreclosed on.
Southpaw follows Billy Hope’s journey to rediscover his love of boxing while also proving to the government that he can be a good father to his daughter. Gyllenhaal’s performance is troubling, sorrowful, inspiring, and entirely believable.
One of Jake Gyllenhaal’s most iconic and earliest roles is as the title character in the 2001 film Donnie Darko. This is a movie that’s become a cult classic among stoners and avid proponents of psychedelics for its trippy directorial style and inferences about the possibility of multiple dimensions.
The plot of Donnie Darko is difficult to describe. Gyllenhaal plays a troubled teenager who meets a demonic rabbit named Frank (who may or may not be a hallucination) that tells him that the world will end in 28 days. When Donnie returns home, he finds that a jet engine has crashed into the roof of his home.
Throughout the movie, it’s unclear whether Donnie is completely insane, whether he’s living in some sort of parallel dimension, or whether the world is really going to end.
If we know one thing about Jake Gyllenhaal, it’s that he’s pretty darn good at playing a weirdo. And that capability is on full display in the 2014 neo-noir psychological thriller Nightcrawler.
Gyllenhaal plays an eccentric misfit named Lou Bloom who finds his purpose in life when he starts recording violent events in Los Angeles and selling the footage to a local news station.
Unfortunately, Bloom starts taking things a little too far in his pursuit to get the best possible footage. He becomes psychologically abusive toward his assistant, starts infiltrating active crime scenes, blackmails his associate at the local news station, and endangers his own life over and over again.
With its brilliant screenplay and a harrowing performance from Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler is an outstanding film that’s in a category entirely of its own.
In one of the most horrifying and disturbing films I’ve ever seen, Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an amazing performance in Prisoners as Loki, a badass detective with a neck tattoo tasked with solving the mystery of two missing girls.
Jake Gyllenhall, Paul Dano, and Hugh Jackman all deliver outstanding performances in their respective roles. The script and concept of the movie are incredible. This movie will give you nightmares for weeks.
Gyllenhaal’s character is steadfast and tough in his work and is forced to solve a mystery while trying to stop an aggrieved father from going completely off the rails. Every moment of Prisoners is supremely intense and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the unforeseeable twist near the end. This is not a movie for the faint of heart.
The 2007 true-crime thriller Zodiac is an undeniable masterpiece. Incredible performances from Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., and Jake Gyllenhaal bring this unfathomable true story to life in a dramatic and suspenseful way.
Gyllenhaal plays political cartoonist Robert Graysmith who becomes obsessed with learning the true identity of the Zodiac Killer and, in doing so, endangers his own life and the life of reporter Paul Avery.
Zodiac does great justice to the unbelievable and horrifying history of the Zodiac Killer, and every actor in the film delivers in their role. Throughout the film, you’ll have to constantly remind yourself that the story is true. The events depicted in the film are so insane that it often seems impossible that they actually happened.
Gyllenhaal’s performance as Jack Twist alongside the late Heath Ledger in the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain is one of the most unforgettable moments in Hollywood history. The movie depicts the complex relationship between two cowboys who are drawn together by both love and loneliness.
Brokeback Mountain received universal praise from critics and was a major turning point for the advancement of queer cinema into the mainstream. This film is guaranteed to make you cry tears of sorrow and joy in a span of two hours, largely because of the incredible performances by Gyllenhaal and Ledger.
Nocturnal Animals is yet another example of some of the more disturbing Jake Gyllenhaal movies.
The movie is an ekphrastic look into a novel received by art gallery owner Susan Morrow. The novel, written by her ex-husband, details the story of a man whose wife and daughter are kidnapped, raped, and killed one night while the family is driving through Texas.
Gyllenhaal’s character Tony is the main character in the novel and enlists the help of Detective Bobby Andes, portrayed excellently by Michael Shannon, to find the murderers.
Andes, who is terminally ill with cancer, is willing to operate outside the law to help Tony get justice. This is a film that’s full of action and violence but will also make you think about love and revenge.