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Face Off: Joaquin Phoenix vs. Ryan Gosling

01.09.2014by: Dave Davis
In last week's Face-Off, the movies of 2013 were put up against the releases of 2012, and you were overwhelmingly in agreement with the verdict that 2012 provided the bigger bang, in no small part due to blockbusters like THE AVENGERS. Good luck, 2014!

This week's showdown features Joaquin Phoenix (star of HER, in wide release this week) and Ryan Gosling, a pair of versatile actors best known for their eccentric selections and quiet intensity. Both are deserving of accolades, but when pitted against each other, who comes out on top?
Mainstream Efforts
Though he worked since a young age in a variety of generally unorthodox roles, Phoenix gained mass attention as the vexed villain of the Oscar-winning GLADIATOR.

He then further "normalized" to join Mel Gibson in M. Night Shyamalanís smash SIGNS and the filmmakerís follow-up THE VILLAGE before fighting fires with John Travolta in LADDER 49 and lending voice to Disney for BROTHER BEAR. His portrayal of Johnny Cash in WALK THE LINE was both a commercial and critical success.
After playing a devious young murder suspect pursued by detective Sandra Bullock in MURDER BY NUMBERS, the former Mouseketeer won all the hearts by romancing Rachel McAdams in the weeper THE NOTEBOOK (his biggest success yet).

Following a few smaller films, he attempted to sculpt Steve Carell into a stud in the comedy CRAZY STUPID LOVE, slipped into a satin scorpion jacket as the reticent wheelman in Nicholas Winding Refnís stylish DRIVE, managed Governor George Clooneyís campaign in the political drama THE IDES OF MARCH, and joined Josh Brolinís 1940s LA crimefighting unit in GANGSTER SQUAD.
Major Award Recognition
Golden Globe nominations for THE MASTER, GLADIATOR and HER, Golden Globe winner for WALK THE LINE

Oscar nominations for THE MASTER, WALK THE LINE and GLADIATOR
Golden Globe nominations for THE IDES OF MARCH, CRAZY STUPID LOVE, BLUE VALENTINE and LARS AND THE REAL GIRL

Oscar nomination for HALF NELSON

And...

MTV Movie Award winner for "Best Kiss" in THE NOTEBOOK
Offbeat highlights
As a teen, renamed himself Leaf (inspired by the nature-themed names of siblings River, Rain and Summer) and played a porn-watching juvenile delinquent in PARENTHOOD. Played a teenage delinquent seduced by Nicole Kidman in TO DIE FOR, a greasy jealous hoodlum named T.N.T. in Oliver Stone's U-TURN, a greasy porn purveyor in 8MM, and a damaged WWII vet drawn into a charismatic philosopher's new religion in Paul Thomas Anderson's THE MASTER.
Played a drug addicted teacher in HALF NELSON, a man obsessed with a sex doll in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, an abusive boozer in a messy marriage in BLUE VALENTINE, a motorcycle stuntman turned bank robber in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, and a revenge-seeking criminal with a severe Oedipus complex in ONLY GOD FORGIVES.
Memes
"Downvoting Roman", featuring an image of Phoenix's scowling GLADIATOR emperor casting execution judgment, with user-added phrases for applicable situations in comment sections and forums
"Hey Girl", featuring dreamy images of the actor accompanied by sensitive captions (starting at the FuckYeahRyanGosling Tumblr before the formula jumped to various places like Feminist Ryan Gosling and the image-swapping website reskinner heygirl.io )

"Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal", a series of Vine videos showing clips of the actor flinching from superimposed spoonfuls of breakfast goodness

And whatever THIS is
Mythology connection
Guest-starred as "Billy Hercules" on an episode of the late-80s syndicated "Superboy" TV show
Played the title character on the series "Young Hercules", a spinoff of the syndicated Kevin Sorbo show "Hercules: The Legendary Adventures"
Retirement from Acting
In 2008, Phoenix retired from acting to supposedly pursue a career in rapping. He then made several appearances in an unkempt and incomprehensible state, only to reveal two years later that his "retirement" was a ruse for director/brother-in-law Casey Affleck's mockumentary I'M STILL HERE.
In March of 2013 Gosling stated "Iíve lost perspective on what Iím doing. I think itís good for me to take a break and reassess why Iím doing it and how Iím doing it." Two months later he was behind the camera on his feature directing debut, the fantasy noir HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER, which he also wrote.
Joaquin Phoenix
Both actors have done extraordinary work in their careers, with a wildly diverse mix of mainstream and idiosyncratic project choices. Though Gosling scores higher in hunk points, Phoenix has been in the game slightly longer and hence, has a slightly more favorable filmography. Additionally, while Gosling's acting hiatus appears ongoing, Phoenix continues to mesmerize in Spike Jonze's HER and stands amid rumors of being sought for blockbuster material like BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. The Phoenix rises!

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

+1
11:01AM on 01/10/2014

Can't

I just have them BOTH?
I just have them BOTH?
Your Reply:



+1
10:59AM on 01/10/2014

HOW CAN YOU FORGET

[link]


SPACE CAMP. Favorite as a kid, and how can you forget chubby little Leaf.
[link]


SPACE CAMP. Favorite as a kid, and how can you forget chubby little Leaf.
Your Reply:



7:45AM on 01/10/2014
Before seeing Her I would have went with Joaquin Phoenix, now there's no question.
Before seeing Her I would have went with Joaquin Phoenix, now there's no question.
Your Reply:



+14
7:35PM on 01/09/2014

I love Gosling, but

When it comes to pure acting ability/talent Pheonix is miles ahead. Just go back and watch Gladiator where he holds his own and/or outshines Crowe. The man is phenomenal.
When it comes to pure acting ability/talent Pheonix is miles ahead. Just go back and watch Gladiator where he holds his own and/or outshines Crowe. The man is phenomenal.
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7:32PM on 01/09/2014
Joaquin Phoenix. I think that in a couple of decades he'll be regarded as well as Daniel Day-Lewis is, his Commodus in Gladiator is one of the great movie villains.
Joaquin Phoenix. I think that in a couple of decades he'll be regarded as well as Daniel Day-Lewis is, his Commodus in Gladiator is one of the great movie villains.
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-4
3:36PM on 01/09/2014

They're both hecka talented but my vote definitely goes to Gosling.

They're both two of the best actors working today but Gosling elevates absolutely everything he's in. You take Gosling out of pretty much anything he's done Post-Notebook and it just wouldn't be the same film with somebody else in his role, whereas I don't feel that's as universally true of Phoenix. It's CERTAINLY true of him at his finest, and has been true of his last few films but I really think that if you had put Gosling in a film like Signs or Ladder 49, even though it's mainstream fare,
They're both two of the best actors working today but Gosling elevates absolutely everything he's in. You take Gosling out of pretty much anything he's done Post-Notebook and it just wouldn't be the same film with somebody else in his role, whereas I don't feel that's as universally true of Phoenix. It's CERTAINLY true of him at his finest, and has been true of his last few films but I really think that if you had put Gosling in a film like Signs or Ladder 49, even though it's mainstream fare, he would have owned the role in a way Phoenix didn't. I think that 50 years from now Phoenix will be remembered as one of the greatest actors of his generation, but (unless he really starts screwing up) Gosling will be remembered as one of the greatest screen actors of all-time. Yeah, I'm going to say it. Gosling is not my personal favorite actor, he probably wouldn't even be in my top 5, but I think he blows all of my favorites (Foster, Levitt, Bale, etc.) out of the water.
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3:31PM on 01/09/2014
I'm clearly on the minority on this one, but it's Gosling all the way.
I'm clearly on the minority on this one, but it's Gosling all the way.
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9:45AM on 01/10/2014
Hey Gosling is good looking, he is a talented actor, but he hasn't had the resonant roles that Phoenix has had. Walk The Line was crazy good and who could forget Phoenix as Commodus in Gladiator? That villain had more layers than an onion. Gosling could pass Phoenix in the future but he needs a better catalog of work.
Hey Gosling is good looking, he is a talented actor, but he hasn't had the resonant roles that Phoenix has had. Walk The Line was crazy good and who could forget Phoenix as Commodus in Gladiator? That villain had more layers than an onion. Gosling could pass Phoenix in the future but he needs a better catalog of work.
3:37PM on 01/09/2014
Don't worry, you're in the minority but not alone. It's 4-9 right now.
Don't worry, you're in the minority but not alone. It's 4-9 right now.
2:52PM on 01/09/2014
Hard to call, in my opinion. I think they're equally talented as actors, and I love Joaquin Phoenix's oddball nature and approach to his roles. Then again, I think Gosling has a stronger filmography, thanks mostly to the last couple of years. Though reluctant, I guess I'll have to choose Ryan Gosling.

Then again, with HER opening in my area tomorrow, who knows how this might change!
Hard to call, in my opinion. I think they're equally talented as actors, and I love Joaquin Phoenix's oddball nature and approach to his roles. Then again, I think Gosling has a stronger filmography, thanks mostly to the last couple of years. Though reluctant, I guess I'll have to choose Ryan Gosling.

Then again, with HER opening in my area tomorrow, who knows how this might change!
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2:45PM on 01/09/2014

Joaq-amole Phoenix

Yup, totally agree JP's the better actor, but much kudos to Ryan for an eclectic filmography and some great performances. Expect better things from him in the future as well.
Yup, totally agree JP's the better actor, but much kudos to Ryan for an eclectic filmography and some great performances. Expect better things from him in the future as well.
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2:32PM on 01/09/2014

Gotta agree

Although I will see anything Gosling stars in, I'd have to say Phoenix is the more capable actor.
Although I will see anything Gosling stars in, I'd have to say Phoenix is the more capable actor.
Your Reply:



1:26PM on 01/09/2014

Phoenix

Hands down. Dude's a gangsta.
Hands down. Dude's a gangsta.
Your Reply:



+6
1:21PM on 01/09/2014

Phoenix

Not to take anything away from Gosling, but Phoenix wins this battle.
Not to take anything away from Gosling, but Phoenix wins this battle.
Your Reply:



12:53PM on 01/09/2014

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix wins this matchup due to his veteran ship. They're both two amazing actors and two of the best actors working today, but Phoenix wins this matchup due to the fact that Phoenix has been around a little longer than Gosling has, who I feel is just starting to really "start his career".

I think after a couple of years, Gosling will definitely be up to par with Phoenix's career and performances, but as of right now Phoenix wins this matchup which is difficult for me since Gosling
Joaquin Phoenix wins this matchup due to his veteran ship. They're both two amazing actors and two of the best actors working today, but Phoenix wins this matchup due to the fact that Phoenix has been around a little longer than Gosling has, who I feel is just starting to really "start his career".

I think after a couple of years, Gosling will definitely be up to par with Phoenix's career and performances, but as of right now Phoenix wins this matchup which is difficult for me since Gosling is one of my favorite actor of all time. Well, they both are, but I hold Gosling in higher regard.
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+3
12:42PM on 01/09/2014
Joaquin Phoenix, fo sho.
Joaquin Phoenix, fo sho.
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12:36PM on 01/09/2014

Phoenix

For the win. Sorry, no comparison here and I couldn't even sit through the "acclaimed" Only God Forgives...He shouldn't for shit like that...
For the win. Sorry, no comparison here and I couldn't even sit through the "acclaimed" Only God Forgives...He shouldn't for shit like that...
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2:23PM on 01/09/2014
"Acclaimed"? It got bad reviews.
"Acclaimed"? It got bad reviews.
+11
12:32PM on 01/09/2014

Memes? Mythology Connection?

were those two categories included just to give Gosling a couple extra points? lol

I really like Gosling, like many I love Drive, and I was floored by Blue Valentine... but in terms of who's the better actor, and with the better filmography -- as good as Gosling is -- it's Joaquin winning that one, hands down.
were those two categories included just to give Gosling a couple extra points? lol

I really like Gosling, like many I love Drive, and I was floored by Blue Valentine... but in terms of who's the better actor, and with the better filmography -- as good as Gosling is -- it's Joaquin winning that one, hands down.
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3:38PM on 01/09/2014
Eh, just having a bit of fun with the column.
Eh, just having a bit of fun with the column.
3:10PM on 01/09/2014
I was thinking the same thing... even though I picked Gosling, I thought those categories were a real stretch!
I was thinking the same thing... even though I picked Gosling, I thought those categories were a real stretch!
12:30PM on 01/09/2014
Phoenix is a tremendous actor. Gladiator, Walk the Line, Signs.
Gosling is good. But Phoenix is great.
Phoenix is a tremendous actor. Gladiator, Walk the Line, Signs.
Gosling is good. But Phoenix is great.
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+2
12:21PM on 01/09/2014

Tough call

Joaq the Joaq Phoenix is one of cinema's greatest contemporary treasures, but Gosling is more of a draw for me. Gotta go with Gosling, I s'pose, although I have been exceedingly impressed with everything Phoenix has done for the past several years (including the Andy Kaufman-esque I'm Still Here).
Joaq the Joaq Phoenix is one of cinema's greatest contemporary treasures, but Gosling is more of a draw for me. Gotta go with Gosling, I s'pose, although I have been exceedingly impressed with everything Phoenix has done for the past several years (including the Andy Kaufman-esque I'm Still Here).
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