It’s somewhat presumptuous to even be asking this question, especially since I have yet to see “Drive,” “The Ides of March” or even “Crazy, Stupid Love,” but I can’t help but wonder: is Ryan Gosling the best actor of his generation? Let’s just take a look at the roles he’s played, shall we?
Idealistic, confident young attorney (“Fracture”). Schlubby asshole burnout husband (“Blue Valentine”). Smooth-talking lounge lizard (“Crazy, Stupid Love”). Enigmatic, mysterious, heroic stunt driver (“Drive”). Crackhead middle school teacher (“Half Nelson”). Guy in love with a fucking sex doll (“Lars and the Real Girl”).
The man goes all over the place, and knocks it out of the park every time. What other under-40 actor out there surprises and electrifies us so consistently? Perhaps post-“Departed” DiCaprio, but as much as I’ve grown fond of Leo lately, I still don’t think he’s got quite the range that Gosling does. Ditto Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Certainly not Jake Gyllenhaal. Or James Franco. Or Jude Law. Heath Ledger might’ve. Maybe Christian Bale. Casey Affleck needs to do more stuff, but he’s lurking.
The point is, Gosling’s involvement in this project has me more excited than any of the rest of the cast, and when you’re talking about George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Marisa Tomei, THAT’S SAYING SOMETHING. This movie has me hooked already. The political message looks timely, giving Clooney a nice follow-up to the sterling “Good Night, and Good Luck” (let’s just forget “Leatherheads” ever happened, yeah?). The “Julius Caesar”-esque themes of betrayal, loyalty, dignity and principle are already resonating, just from this brief glimpse. And maybe it’s just the inherent tension of this trailer (or our preconditioned distrust of politicians), but I swear there’s something menacing behind Clooney’s smile this time around, a la Pierce Brosnan in “The Ghost Writer.”
In summary, “West Wing” meets “State of Play” (BBC version)? Yes yes, please please.