Actor Spotlight: Jake Gyllenhaal’s Best Movies

With the recent Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer releasing its awesomeness onto the internet, the universe is screaming over Jake Gyllenhaal’s premiere as the villain Mysterio (although he’s being presented as a good guy in the trailer). While many have known Gyllenhaal for a good while, as the man has been around for at least two decades; it stands to reason that there are probably those who are first being introduced to the actor. Especially those born after the year 2000; so, who is Jake Gyllenhaal? Some of his best work includes movies like Jarhead, South Paw, Zodiac, and many others. Below I’ve comprised a list of my personal favorite Gyllenhaal movies that are great research if this is your first experience with the actor.

Donnie Darko

For anyone born in the late 80s, early 90s, Donnie Darko was a quintessential high school, angst movie. Full of memorable quotes and trippy scenery, Donnie Darko solidified Gyllenhaal into the hall of cult classics. To this day, you can almost ask anyone in the late 20s, early 30s age bracket and they’re going to know scenes and lines from this movie and if you were in high school during the early 2000s, chances are this was on your “favorite movie” list. For anyone wanted to get a glimpse of a younger, baby-faced Gyllenhaal, make sure this is the first in your Gyllenhaal binge-a-thon.

Brokeback Mountain

You cannot talk about Jake Gyllenhaal without talking about Brokeback Mountain. Released in 2005, it generated buzz and accolades that showed that a mainstream movie about a same-sex romance could and should be on theater screens. Co-starring the late and great Heath Ledger, this movie is heartfelt and heartbreaking as it tells the tale of two men forced to live in the social norm of heterosexual relationships when it’s more than clear they have feelings for each other. Gyllenhaal’s character eventually comes to understand that there is nothing wrong with the way he feels, but Heath Ledger’s character, plagued by his strict upbringing; struggles to accept himself let alone allow the outside work to know of his and Gyllenhaal’s secret affair. For anyone who appreciates a good movie to cry to, Brokeback Mountain is your movie.

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An absolute favorite of mine, Brothers does not get the recognition it deserves. Brothers is about two siblings who could not be any more different. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the “black sheep”, who recently is being released from prison for robbery and Tobey Maguire is a decorated soldier. When Maguire’s character is seemingly killed overseas, Gyllenhaal’s character steps up to take care of his brother’s widow and his nieces. Not only is Maguire’s performance harrowing once he comes back alive and is paranoid that his brother was intimate with his wife (played by Natalie Portman), but Gyllenhaal’s performance as brother desperate to prove he is not the family “screw-up” is something worth seeing.


Yet another film that doesn’t seem to be talked about, at least anymore; is 2013’s Prisoners. Starring Hugh Jackman as a man who has become desperate to find his missing child and will do anything to do so, this film keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time and has an ending that you never saw coming. Gyllenhaal plays, ironically; a Detective Loki. That’s his name; whether it was done on purpose because Avengers had just come out the year prior and everyone was (and still is) obsessed with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, I don’t know. Either way, Detective Loki is tatted up and present throughout the film, becoming stressed as well when he’s realizing that this case is unlike others he’s been on because he can’t solve it. This is a seriously great film on all accounts, with every character portraying the different ways someone would deal with the disappearance of a child.

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No, not the mutant from X-Men. Nightcrawler is an unnerving thriller that showcases Gyllenhaal very differently than we’ve seen him in previous work. Hollowed out and manic, he plays an unhinged man who is desperate to get the best crime shots for the nightly news. The lengths he goes to get the right shot is extreme and it’s truly a disturbing movie. On top of that, he’s a dangerous man to contend with and while it could be easy to brush his character off as strange and unusual, we quickly see that there is a reason why he most often gets what he wants. Nightcrawler is one of Gyllenhaal’s best and just reinforced that he is one of the best actors in Hollywood.

Watching these fantstic movies will really make you ready to see Spider-Man: Far From Home and help you appreciate the talent that is Jake Gyllenhaal. Far From Home hits theaters July 5th!

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