Jake Gyllenhaal returns to the big screen later this month with the release of new sci-fi space thriller, Life. It got us thinking, which movies have we seen the actor in in the years gone by that have left the biggest impact on us? Here are our 5 favourite movies we loved seeing the actor shine in.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Life, released March 24 in cinemas

Jake Gyllenhaal in Life, released March 24 in cinemas

5. Jarhead

Based on real-life US Marine Anthony Swofford’s experiences, this American biographical war drama saw Gyllenhaal star as Swofford – a man who attended US Marine Corps training in 1989 before being stationed. Finding his time difficult and struggling to make friends, Swofford went through a lot in proving his worth as a potential leading member of the United States forces, and was eventually headhunted by Staff Sergeant Sykes, played by Jamie Foxx.

In this role, Gyllenhaal truly excels. He’s a pro at bringing the emotion to a flick that may have been void of it without him and is unafraid to allow himself to become vulnerable within the piece. When he needs to bring that raw acting talent he does so with ease, and when he’s able to let his hair down (excuse the pun), he allows humour to take centre-stage and puts on a great show.

At its heart, though, Jarhead is about the effects of war on not just those who are engaged in the combat, but the people they have waiting for them back at home. It’s an eye-opening piece and definitely worth a watch.

4. Brokeback Mountain

Proving that love and affection can come out of the blue at any given moment, Brokeback Mountain was the intense and impulsive tale of two cowboys who lived life through a secret lens throughout the years. Sharing a relationship like none they’d ever had before, they were passionate in their feelings for one another, but all too aware that their feelings were forbidden and had to remain a secret.

Gyllenhaal played one of those cowboys, opposite the late Heath Ledger, and went a long way in proving to much of the people watching that when it all comes down to it, love in any of its forms is just love, and those who fall deeply into it should not be discriminated against. Brokeback Mountain is all about grasping opportunity and not letting it slip through your fingers. It’s something we all do, with regret often bubbling to the surface afterwards.

3. Prisoners

If you’re looking for a tense American thriller with some of the greatest acting talents of the modern day, look no further than Prisoners. Featuring Gyllenhaal alongside Hugh Jackman and Viola Davis amongst others, with a screenplay from Aaron Guzikowski and Denis Villeneuve sat in the Director’s Chair, it’s a flick that every fan of the genre has to see.

Following the story of two young girls who are abducted in Pennsylvania, viewers are introduced to the police inspectors tasked with finding them. After that however comes the arrival of one of the abducted girls’ father who takes matters into his own hands and decides he’ll get justice via any means possible. It’s a beautifully shot film, with Jackman and Gyllenhaal doing well to allow each other to shine. A true comradery on screen.

2. Nightcrawler

No, this isn’t a movie following the X-Men mutant of the same name, but another Gyllenhaal-led American thriller, this time directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring as Lou Bloom, a stringer who works in Los Angeles and films violent events late at night before selling footage to a local news station, this is perhaps the best representation of the relationship between unethical journalism and consumer demand.

As one of 2014’s best releases (according to various outlets!), this movie is absolutely one you should be adding to your watchlist as soon as you can.

1. Donnie Darko

It’s one of his most memorable works, and features a younger Gyllenhaal than anything else on the list. Playing a troubled teen who’s plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit, this psychological film sees Gyllenhaal’s youthful character commit a series of crimes following his escape from a bizarre accident.

It’s hard to describe Donnie Darko, so instead we’ll just say it’s the Gyllenhaal movie that has had the biggest cultural impact. If you’ve not seen it, drop everything and get it watched. It’s SO worth the time.


What are your favourite Jake Gyllenhaal movies? Let us know in the comments section below!

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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