it’s ryan gosling’s year; the rest of us are just passing through

As an actor, he’s been slowly but steadily gaining support and accolades over the last several years – including an Oscar nomination for 2006’s Half Nelson – playing truly memorable roles in films like The Believer and The Notebook and even going toe to toe with Sir Anthony Hopkins in Fracture. But this is the year where everything seems to be coming together for him and everyone is taking notice.

He kicked off 2011 with a mesmerizing, heartbreaking performance opposite Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, the two playing a young couple deeply in love but incapable of sustaining a relationship. Williams was rewarded with an Oscar nomination.  Gosling should have been, too.

July brought us Crazy Stupid Love and, with it, Gosling’s crazy stupid abs, super awesome wardrobe (love those sunglasses!) and a true superstar-performance. While it was a true ensemble film, Gosling was in full-out electrifying movie-star mode, and he owned it.

Last week, the fall movie season got nice and revved up with another Reason to Love Ryan Gosling: Nicholas Winding Refn’s arty-moody crime thriller Drive. If you haven’t seen this yet, please do so at your earliest convenience. From the opening titles (That hot pink Mistral font! That glittering L.A. skyline! Those gritty back streets! Gosling!), Drive exudes style and steely cool, just like Gosling’s silently stoic Driver, a stunt driver by day/getaway car driver by night whose love for a single mom and her son sets him on a course that sends multiple lives spiraling.

It’s a simple story, but well-told and confident in its identity. The soundtrack is killer, and our hero of the moment has never been more bad-ass.

As if that weren’t enough, we’re a scant two weeks away from a Gosling-Clooney matchup in The Ides of March, where Gosling will play a press secretary to George Clooney’s presidential candidate. If you are a Gosling fan, a Clooney fan, a fan of political thrillers or all three (guilty!), this is a complete embarrassment of riches.

So, Ry Ry, for breaking our hearts in Blue Valentine, for teaching us how to be smooth operators in Crazy Stupid Love (seriously, the sunglasses. Where did you get them?), for showing us the finer points of heroism and badassery in Drive and for warning us of the pitfalls of politics in The Ides of March, you are our CulturePoppe MVP of the Week. Perhaps even the year.

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