Jake Gyllenhaal is one of our favourite actors here at FemaleFirst and he is one of the most exciting stars on the big screen at the moment.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw

Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw

During his career, we have seen Gyllenhaal mix and match his movie roles showing off his versatility as well as his talent... and he is back on the big screen this week. We are going to be seeing plenty of Gyllenhaal this year and Southpaw is the first of his unmissable movies. The film sees him team up with director Antoine Fuqua for the first time as he takes on the challenge of a boxing movie.

To celebrate the return of Gyllenhaal, we take a look back over his career and some of the performances that have defined it.

- Donnie Darko (2002)

Gyllenhaal may have started acting at the age of ten but it was his role in Donnie Darko back in 2002 that proved to be his major breakthrough role.

Directed and written by Richard Kelly, Gyllenhaal took on the role of Donnie Darko, a trouble teen who is plagued by visions of a large rabbit called Frank. Frank pushes Donnie to perform and dangerous and destructive pranks as well as committing crimes.

Donnie Darko was one of the most original movies to hit the big screen in 2002, as it was a film that was visually fantastic but was also packed with some interesting themes and ideas. It is not surprise that Donnie Darko has gone on to become a major cult hit.

Donnie Darko truly was a star-making role for Gyllenhaal who shone as he got under the skin of this troubled and complex young man. His performance really will send a shiver down your spine and it is no surprise that he has gone on to be the huge star that he is today.

Donnie Darko is a movie that straggles the fine line between reality and the surreal and, as a result, opened up a world of intrigue and drama.

Over the years, Donnie Darko is a movie that has become more appreciated than when it was first released and it is great that it is now recognised for the extraordinary piece of work that it is. It is a dark and downright weird movie that is as mesmerising as it is chilling. A truly great watch and one that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

- Brokeback Mountain (2006)

Gyllenhaal has one Oscar nominated to his name and that came for her terrific performance in Brokeback Mountain, which was him pick up a Best Supporting Actor nod. Hard to believe, but next year Brokeback Mountain will celebrate its tenth anniversary and yet, it remains as great a movie now as it was back in 2006.

The movie is based on the short story by Annie Proulx and followed the forbidden love between two cowboys; played by Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.

For me, Brokeback Mountain is the best film from director Ang Lee as it is a powerful and very moving story about love. However, this is a forbidden love, Lee creates a fascinating story about how this could never be, and the lengths Ennis and Jack go to leave those feelings behind.

The movie saw Gyllenhaal team up with Heath Ledger for the first time and the pair of actors deliver terrific performances that really will break your heart. These two actors have a real understanding of the love and the passion that these two characters have for one another and the daily struggle they face to keep their feelings a secret.

Brokeback Mountain was one of the bet movies to hit the big screen and should have gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar: controversially losing out to Crash. The film did win Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, while Gyllenhaal and Ledger did pick up Oscar nods for their work.

- End of Watch (2012)

In 2012, Gyllenhaal swapped the cowboy Western for the crime drama as he teamed up with director David Ayer to play a copy in End of Watch.

End of Watch was the first time that Gyllenhaal has teamed up with Ayer, who also penned the screenplay as well as being in the director's chair. End of Watch was the third feature film for Ayer and came after Harsh Times and Street Kings.

Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves. Gyllenhaal starred alongside Michael Pena as cops Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, while Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, and Frank Grillo were also on board.

I was a huge fan of the gritty nature of End of Watch as the documentary style put audiences right in the heart of the action and helped you get to know the characters better - it really did feel like you were riding with Taylor and Zavala.

It is this central relationship that really makes the movie what is it as a real friendship and brotherly love has developed between the pair that is so genuine and so strong. And that is thanks to two great central performances from Gyllenhaal and Pena that this has been achieved; Taylor is a man who is still haunted by his military past while Zavala is a devoted family man.

These two men couldn't he further apart and yet they have between them a bond and a trust that cannot be broken - and this is played perfectly by these two fine actors. It is also these two actors that provide the comedic relief in the film - some of the banter between them is just top quality and feels incredibly real and in the moment. If you love you crime/police dramas then End of Watch is one that is not to be missed.

- Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is a movie that hit the big screen not that long ago and yet it is one of Gyllenhaal's best performances that should have earnt him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Gyllenhaal has picked up Best Actor nominations at the likes of the Golden Globes and the Baftas and yet, he was overlooked when the Oscars rolled around.

Nightcrawler was written and directed by Dan Gilroy and marked his feature film directorial debut as he teamed up with Gyllenhaal for the first time. Gyllenhaal was joined on the cast list by Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton but it was he who truly shined in this movie.

When Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Gyllenhaal went above and beyond the call of duty for Nightcrawler as he looked emaciated tackling the role of Bloom, however, this only added to the power of his incredible performance.

Bloom is a man who would go to any lengths to be a success and it is this willingness to blur the lines between that makes his a character that really does get under your skin and make it crawl. At the same time, Gyllenhaal plays him in a way where you just cannot take your eyes off him.

From start to finish, the director delivers an incredibly tense thriller that is elevated further by the unforgettable performance from Gyllenhaal. Why he was overlooked for an Oscar is anyone's guess.

Other unmissable Jake Gyllenhaal movies include Prisoners, Enemy, Jarhead, and Zodiac.

Southpaw is released 24th July.

by for www.malextra.com
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