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10 Best Jake Gyllenhaal Movies You Must See

Updated June 30, 2017
6 min read

What are the best Jake Gyllenhaal movies? Let’s look below.

Did you know Jake Gyllenhaal was being considered to for the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins ? Imagine that ! He was also being considered to play Spider-man in ‘Spider-man 2’ after Toby Maguire fell sick and was willing to pull out. Certainly, if he had been cast in either of those two films, his career track might have been different. But ultimately, he is slowly climbed his way to the top of acting hierarchy and now is considered one of the best known acting talents around. Over the years, he has featured in some really great films. Here is the list of top 10 Jake Gyllenhaal movies. You can watch some of these best Jake Gyllenhaal movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

Honorable Mention: Love and Other Drugs, Everest

10. Source Code

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is a pilot and a part of secret program of the government, by which he is given to relive the last few minutes in the life of another man, who died in a train explosion. Stevens is needed to learn the identity of the bomber, but when he takes up the task, he sees many things are at stake, the least available being time. ‘Source Code’ gives a new twist to the time-travel films we are used to seeing, and does so brilliantly. In the center of it is a brilliant Jake Gyllenhaal performance.

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9. Southpaw

As tragedy strikes boxer, Jake Gyllenhaal is phenomenal. While the film itself could have been much better, Gyllenhaal ensures that you have your eyes fixated on him, even if the story itself lacks the originality. In a film that we have seen countless times before, Gyllenhaal shines like a bright star.

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8. Demolition

‘Demolition’ tells an affecting but unique story about the emotional journey of a man dealing with his lack of emotions. And that story should appeal to you, if for nothing else, than its uniqueness and surprising depth of emotions that it evokes. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the man suffering from inside but cold outside with great perfection. It is one of the underrated Jake Gyllenhaal movies.

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7. Donnie Darko

Jake Gyllenhaal was an unknown commodity then. But you can still see the hunger to excel in his eyes. ‘Donnie Darko’, as a film, has a grandiose vision with a sprawling imagination of an affluent adolescent. Down to its insidiously naughty elements, “Donnie Darko” is about a young rebel “Donnie” who pays odes to the likes of “The Catcher in the Rye” and successfully brings glib humor through intimidating characters and subjects. Films like ‘Donnie Darko’ are very rare. And even though it is dense with ideas and nearly impossible to understand in one-viewing, very few films are so full of brilliant ideas. And yes, Gyllenhaal still manages to leave a mark in this dense film.

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6. Nocturnal Animals

A neo-noir psychological thriller about a rich, unsatisfied middle-aged woman, whose painful memories from her past are triggered when her ex-husband sends her the first copy a book he has written. Revealing anymore about the movie would spoil its textured brilliance, as Ford effortlessly crafts a sad, painful and emotionally terrifying multi-layered narrative that could very well trigger your own personal demons and fears. Jake Gyllenhaal yet again takes a challenging role and makes it completely his own. One of the best Jake Gyllenhaal movies from recent times.

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5. Enemy

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Jake plays a double-role in this mind-bender of a movie; playing two radically different characters in a movie is a daunting task, but Gyllenhaal gives his hundred percent here, perfectly embodying the role of a lonely professor as well as that of a Movie star.

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4. Zodiac

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‘Zodiac’ is perhaps one of the strongest works of David Fincher, yet often overlooked. Apart from his trademark visual style, this film is elevated by the terrific performances of its actors, led by the quietly determined Jake Gyllenhaal himself. One would think that Mark Ruffalo was at the forefront of the movie, but Gyllenhaal actually shines above Ruffalo and Downey Jr. as the reporter obsessed with finding the killer.

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3. Prisoners

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Before ‘Prisoners’, Gyllenhaal was having a sort of rough patch in terms of acting, appearing as Prince Dastan in the forgotten ‘Prince of Persia’ movie and then starring alongside Anne Hathaway in ‘Love and Other Drugs’. But his performance as Detective Loki in ‘Prisoners’ (helmed by Dennis Villeneuve, who also directed ‘Enemy’) was actually a revelation. It is hard to describe the character of the Detective; he is quiet, reserved and dedicated towards his job. But underneath that quiet facade there is repressed anger, steeped in frustration. That anger comes out during a chilling scene when he messes up his workplace, throwing away his computer. Furthermore, it’s also hinted that the character is an insomniac, thus adding a layer of depth to him.

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2. Brokeback Mountain

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A landmark film. A landmark performance. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ shattered many pre-conceived notions about homosexuality. And it wouldn’t have possible without Gyllenhaal’s terrific performance. There is not much that can be written about Gyllenhaal’s moving portrayal of a man who develops this special bond with another man; it is one of those performances which have to be seen and felt, and will certainly be talked about for years to come.

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1. Nightcrawler

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Yes. This is it. ‘Nightcrawler’ remains Jake Gyllenhaal’s strongest performance till date. It was really a shame that he was overlooked when it came to an Oscar nomination. It is a terrifying portrayal of a man who is alone, desperate to make it big in the seething cesspool of L.A. He will do anything for success, and is like the complete antithesis of Travis Bickle of ‘Taxi Driver’. Read our detailed review here.

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