Top Five: Praising Jake Gyllenhaal

Amanda Kirkham

Prisoners came out this past weekend, and though I have not seen it yet, it is at the top of my list for this weekend. In anticipation I have here my Top Five Jake Gyllenhaal Roles.

5. Donnie Darko, Donnie Darko (2001)

While I’m not a fan of the film now, this is probably Jake Gyllenhaal’s most iconic role and this list wouldn’t be complete without it. I admit when I was a young pre-teen girl this seemed like the most brilliant film. Gyllenhaal was so dreamy and had such an interesting and mysterious name. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize how much of it actually irritates me. That being said, Gyllenhaal still stands out in it. He has the brooding teenage loner thing down and gives off just enough of an insanity vibe to make the whole thing work.


4. Jimmy Livingston, Bubble Boy (2001)

No, I’m not being ironic. Yes, I actually enjoy the film. It tells the story of Jimmy Livingston, a boy born without an immune system who lives in a bubble, and goes on an adventure to follow the love of his life. Isn’t that setup excellent? Bubble Boy is a hilarious film. It’s a silly story about stupid characters but comedy can be tough and Gyllenhaal proves with this role that he has perfect comedic timing. It is ridiculous, unashamed and those who can’t find the humor in it are thinking too much. Turn your brain off for a bit.

3. Jack Twist, Brokeback Mountain (2005)

In his only Oscar nominated role, Gyllenhaal plays Jack Twist, a cowboy who falls in love with his sheep-herding partner, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) with whom he enters into a forbidden love affair. Gyllenhaal plays up the emotional side of Jack, demonstrating why he makes the misguided and foolish decisions he does. He is the perfect complement to the machismo of Heath Ledger’s Ennis in their relationship. He is sensitive and impulsive, whereas Ennis is closed off and methodical in his actions. All social commentary aside, both leads in the film did an excellent job at telling a complicated love story.

2. Homer Hickam, October Sky (1999)

Based on a true story, this is a heartwarming family film that tells the story of Homer Hickam’s entrance into the world of rocketry. Against his father’s wishes he leaves the mines to focus on building a rocket with his friends. It has all the warmth and charm you could ask for in such a film and Gyllenhaal is perfectly cast as the lead. He evokes the right amount of wonder and innocence without seeming hokey. Homer isn’t necessarily the brightest in the group or the cleverest but he is the most tenacious and spirited.

1. Robert Graysmith, Zodiac (2007)

This was the biggest snubbed film of 2007. It wasn’t nominated for a single Oscar and it was one of, if not the best films of the year. It didn’t even win any of the other minor awards (e.g. Saturn Award) for which it was nominated, which is a crime! Everyone was perfect, the production value was amazing, and the story itself was excellently told (not to mention incredibly creepy). Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, the author of the book the story is based on. He is impeccable as the determined, slightly weary cartoonist who became obsessed with solving the Zodiac murders of the late 60s.


One response to “Top Five: Praising Jake Gyllenhaal

  1. Pingback: CHECK IT OUT! The New, The Classic, The Obscure: The Wonderful World of Rentals |·

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