The time between 2014 and 2015 can truly be said to be the year that Jake Gyllenhaal conquered the Hollywood. Pulling off his most incredible physical transformations yet, for the independent thriller Nightcrawler and the Antoine Fuqua drama Southpaw, the actor has unleashed the first of several intense performances due to hit our screens within a short period. Sure, he’s been Oscar nominated before, but this is what it looks like when a highly skilled performer reaches the point in his career where his talent matches the quality of projects available. The result is thrilling cinema, every time out of the gate.
This is not something that happens overnight, however. While Gyllenhaal now seems to be everywhere – attached to many new projects with his new-found, hard-earned ubiquity – the actor has reached this point through a long, careful process of intriguing storytelling, through which he has meticulously developed his skill. Planting his flag in every genre over the course of almost a quarter of a century, Gyllenhaal’s journey to being first on everyone’s list has been, in itself, enjoyable to watch, with the added benefit of producing some really good movies.
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Since his debut in the 1991 comedy, City Slickers, Gyllenhaal has made steady progress. But, he has peppered his resume with certain, very specific projects that have represented a giant leap for both his career, and his own development. In between great turns in Lovely & Amazing, The Good Girl, Proof, and Jarhead, there have been films that had a seismic impact in theatres – resonating with audiences and lingering in the cultural consciousness.
While Zodiac, Rendition, Source Code, Love & Other Drugs, and even Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time are great to watch in their own ways, Gyllenhaal has continually returned to projects that make everyone sit up and take notice. The frequency of these dramatic juggernauts has increased over time, leading us to the point where the swift triple hit of Nightcrawler, Southpaw and Everest has finally established him as a quietly dominant force in the filmmaking business.
Here then, is the evolution of Jake Gyllenhaal in six movies. These are not necessarily the biggest commercial hits, nor are they necessarily the greatest critical successes – but, if the Hollywood A list were Everest, these are the films that represent his route to the top.