Movie Roundup: What’s Your Favorite Jake Gyllenhaal Performance?

Movie Roundup is where I give quick impressions on a bunch of films. You might find a movie that catches your curiosity. Or maybe there’ll be a film to avoid, which means I watched a terrible movie so you wouldn’t have to! 🙂

I’m really liking Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie choices lately, especially over the last five years. Even though I generally like commercial movies, I’m glad he’s not doing stuff like the disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow or the video game based movie Prince of Persia anymore (I had little interest in watching those). In his more recent stuff, you can see he’s shifted to this whole other gear as an actor. What’s your favorite Jake Gyllenhaal performance or movie?


Southpaw Poster Jake Gyllenhall

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Miguel Gomez

In a role originally written for Eminem, Jake Gyllenhaal’s raw, bloodied and bruised performance as fictional boxer Billy Hope is the best reason to catch this flick. Screenwriter Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Bastard Executioner) describes his own strength as a writer is finding the emotional drama in violent, tortured lives. While Hope’s life is violent and tortured, the movie as a whole left me emotionally numb. I wasn’t all that invested in Hope’s tribulations and it wasn’t because of Gyllenhaal or director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) as both did their job well. I chalk it up to the run of the mill script. I couldn’t completely buy into the movie because the story beats were too familiar and I knew how it was going to end. Also, the father daughter relationship wasn’t fleshed out enough. This isn’t to say Southpaw is bad, it’s actually a decent, very watchable movie. Just don’t expect it to pack a deep emotional punch or bring something new to the boxing genre.
Rating: ★★½


Enemy Movie Poster

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon

This slow burning, psychological thriller begins with the quote “Chaos is order yet undeciphered”. If taken literally, Enemy’s story about a history teacher (Jake Gyllenhaal) who discovers he has a doppelganger is confounding. Director Villeneuve said this movie deals with the subconscious, so from that viewpoint I see Enemy is an abstract or conceptual expression of a man’s duplicity. Gyllenhaal’s duo performances are solid, giving both of his characters subtle yet noticeable differences. The cinematography of the city skyline is strangely beautiful. Smoggy camera filters give a dreary, oppressive feel. Cryptic, unearthly, and deliberately paced, Enemy is a very different movie from Villeneuve’s underrated Prisoners but one that hardcore cinephiles shouldn’t think twice about putting on their movie watch list.
Rating: ★★★½

 Enemy At The Gates

Enemy At The Gates Movie Poster

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Jude Law, Jospeh Fiennes, Rachel Wiesz, Ed Harris, Ron Perlman

After American Sniper hit theaters, the follow up movie that was highly recommended to me was 2001’s Enemy At The Gates. Now having watched it, I can say the only thing these two movies have in common is that the protagonist is a sniper. While not a product of Hollywood, Enemy At The Gates falls into the trappings of a Hollywoodized war movie. Most of the story about real-life Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev (Jude Law) at the Battle of Stalingrad is either inaccurate or clearly fictional for the purposes of entertainment. A shoehorned love story is most out-of-place during an awkward, cringe-worthy love scene. Still, Vasily resonates as a product of war propaganda and genuine hero for his nation. The strongest aspect is fortunately the focus of this movie: a riveting cat and mouse sniper duel that takes place over several days.
Rating: ★★★☆ 



Director: Dan Gilroy
Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton

Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely brilliant as Lou Bloom, an opportunistic street vulture who sells sensationalistic crime and accident videos to the local TV station. First off, Gyllenhaal’s physical embodiment of Lou Bloom, a gaunt creepy man, is even more remarkable when you consider in his next role he played a buffed up boxer. But it’s not just the physical transformation, you get lost in his skin crawling performance and forget he’s the same actor I’ve seen in many other movies. When so many movies nowadays are remakes or adaptations, it’s great to see an original screenplay which took the core idea, which is compelling in itself, and kept escalating the stakes; thoroughly exploring it’s concepts and takes turns that are well-thought out. I made peace with the ending because Nightcrawler isn’t a morality tale but this movie does say something unsettling about the culture we live in.
Rating: ★★★★½

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought of these movies and/or what you think of Movie Roundup as an on-going feature.

About Sidekick Reviews

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on September 17, 2015, in Movies, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Great post! I think Gyllenhaal is a really talented actor, one of my personal favourites is Donnie Darko. I love everything about the film but it’s definitely Gyllenhaal’s performance that makes it fantastic!

  2. Hey man, great post yo. Jake Gyllenhaal is one of those actors I honestly never really cared about until the last few years where he appeared in films that I really liked and with each new film he’s gotten better and better. He’s one of my favourite people working today for sure. As for the films you’ve listed, Enemy at the Gates is one of those films I believe I’ve heard of but never seen and Enemy is one I’ve never heard of, I’ll have to give that a watch for sure. I would have said that he was really good in Brothers, that was the first film that really got Gyllenhaal on my radar (though I liked Tobey Maguire’s performance more) and he was pretty good in Prisoners too.

    But I have to give the generic answer and say my favourite performance from him was in Nightcrawler, such a powerful, sneaky, creepy and aggressive character and he was robbed of an Oscar or at least a nomination for that performance. No one in recent memory have been able to transform psychically and mentally the way that Gyllenhaal did.

    • Hey there! I’m really liking that Gyllenhaal is doing all these different roles. I think he’s on a streak of super solid performances in recent years.

      I’m glad there’s a movie in this post that you haven’t watched yet and that might interest you. Enemy is worth watching for the direction, cinematography, performances and creep factor though be warned it’s really slow. I haven’t seen Brothers yet but I’ll be sure to give it a chance, good heads up.

      It’s too bad he didn’t get Oscar recognition/nomination for his Nightcrawler performance. I guess it was a stacked year. This would be my favourite performance from him too. Thanks man!

  3. Nice post, he’s one of my favourite actors, very consistently good and I thought he was great in Prisoners, also really good in Southpaw.

  4. Great post! This is a great feature. I personally loved Nightcrawler but these are all really good. Enemy or any of the others would easily be another actor’s best movie. (Most other actors really).

    • Thanks a lot! I hope to do more of this feature. I was super impressed with Nightcrawler, great to hear you loved it too! He’s got a really good filmography so far, better than most actors for sure.

  5. Um, is it bad to say I don’t have a favorite Jake Gyllenhaal movie? I have nothing against him, just not interested in most of his movies for whatever reason.
    Do like the idea of Movie Roundup. Mainly because it can expose me to movies I haven’t seen (like the ones mentioned here).

    • That’s okay for not having a fave Gyllenhaal movie. 🙂 Some of his older stuff like Prince of Persia didn’t interest me but I’m liking his more recent films. He has a movie called Source Code which is a Groundhog day concept with a sci-fi setting that’s more interesting and some people really like it. Nice to get your feedback on Movie Roundup, I like the idea of a casual chat about movies and maybe some readers might discover something new.

  6. I’ve only seen one of the movies that you listed. I love sports movies so i know I’ll love Southpaw. The other ones sound really good too. My favorite performance, so far, is definitely Night Crawler. The dude was just creepy in that film :].

    • Southpaw gives everything we’d pretty much expect in a sport movies, hope you like it alot. It even has a training montage. 🙂 He was so creepy in NightCrawler, that’s my fave performance too!

  7. Donnie Darko was deep. but Night Crawler completely blew my mind.

  8. It’s got to be Nightcrawler for me but I also love him in Prisoners and Donnie Darko.

  9. How did I miss this post? I love Jake and have been so impressed with his acting over the last decade. October Sky was charming and the first film of his I remember. Johnny Darko gave him a cool edge. Then an explosion and rapid climb up showcasing his expressive face and fine acting abilities. I can’t think of one performance that was bad. Brokeback Mt. was brave. Nightcrawler his best.

    • Hello Cindy! Hope you’ve been doing well. October Sky really is charming, loved it! I think that’s one of my first movies I’ve seen from him, or Donnie Darko … I can’t recall which was first. He’s made a great transition from basically a child actor. Brave is a great way to describe his performance in Brokeback. So far Nightcrawler is at the top of his list. 😀

  10. Awesome post! Jake G has been on fire for some time now! While not my favorite from him (I’d go with Nightcrawler), he is magnificent in End of Watch along with Pena. I felt he and Pena could hop right into the toughest hood and crack down on crime!

  11. I think Donnie Darko will always remain my favourite but in recent years it has to be Nightcrawler. He rarely blinks throughout the movie. Should have been nominated for an Oscar for that performance alone.

    • Good choices, when I was watching Donnie Darko I remember thinking wow this young kid is excellent and talented. Yeah, he deserved an Oscar nomination for Nightcrawler, loved that performance!

  1. Pingback: This month on Actual Andrew: October! | Actual Andrew

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