Jake Gyllenhaal has come a long way since Bubble Boy. As of late, the veteran actor has made some great career decisions that have led to some awards hype. With Stronger coming out this weekend, Gyllenhaal is once again in the awards conversation. With that, let’s take a look at three of his best films to date.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
One of his most understated and nuanced performances came in Ang Lee’s somewhat controversial 2005 film Brokeback Mountain. Gyllenhaal played Jack Twist, a cowboy with a secret and forbidden relationship with a fellow sheep herder Ennis Del Mar. Playing opposite the late Heath Ledger, Gyllenhaal gives a powerful performance as a tormented soul who finds a deep connection with Ennis. It’s a passionate performance and difficult one as he portrays a man torn between two lives, one with his wife and kids, and one with a man whom he desires to be with. It remains Gyllenhaal’s only Oscar nominated performance, but more on that tragedy later.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)
In Nocturnal Animals, Gyllenhaal quietly gives one of his best performances. One of the most underrated films of last year, Gyllenhaal simultaneously takes on two roles. Director Tom Ford pulls wonderful performances out of several actors, most notably Michael Shannon. However, what’s special about Gyllenhaal’s work in this film is that even though he doesn’t give the films best turn, on a personal level, it is one of his best. Vengeful and sorrowful, Gyllenhaal holds his own against the great Amy Adams and even an Oscar nominated one like Shannon’s. Gyllenhaal pulls off two totally different storylines in a film that balances several stories at once, and he does it with such gravitas, that he even steals the show sometimes from the movies more showy leads.

Nightcrawler (2014)
Snub is a word often lazily thrown around by people when it comes to awards talk. Too often, people associate the word snub with their own personal preference. In reality it should be a word used when someone has a legitimate case of not only being nominated for, but winning an award. This is the case with Mr. Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler, which is by far the most egregious snub in recent Academy Awards history. He goes to a deep, dark and transformative place to play Louis, a sociopath obsessed with chasing news stories. Gyllenhaal gives the performance of his career in Nightcrawler, a film that dives deep in the psyche of its insane lead character. Had you not known it was him going in, you may not recognize him. It’s one of the best performances of the decade, and should have been the rightful winner of a Best Actor trophy that year.

Honorable Mentions: SouthpawPrisoners, Zodiac, Donnie Darko, October Sky

What’s your favorite performance of Jake Gyllenhaal’s? Comment below and let us know!

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