Best Ryan Reynolds Roles

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  20 Feb 2016 

After years of fan outcry, Ryan Reynolds finally gets the chance to topline a solo Deadpool movie this weekend — and if early critical returns are any indication, it was well worth the wait. In honor of the occasion, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the best and brightest moments from Mr. Reynolds’ film and TV career, and the results add up to a list that includes big box-office hits and left-field choices from across the spectrum. It’s time for Total Recall!

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9 Mississippi Grind
imdb
rating

6.4

Mississippi Grind (2015)

Drama

A number of his more successful films have found him playing characters that might be described as blandly pretty, so the idea of Ryan Reynolds playing an emotionally stunted drifter with a gambling problem might seem like a bit of a stretch. With his work in Mississippi Grind, however, Reynolds offered an excellent reminder that when given the right script, he’s more than capable of delivering a finely layered performance — and going toe-to-toe with Ben Mendelsohn in a melancholy road movie about a pair of aging losers who can’t quite seem to grow up no matter how many chances they’re given. “Mendelsohn plays Gerry as a stringy, sweaty hunk of pure desperation,” wrote Mike D’Angelo for the A.V. Club, “while Reynolds, as the ostensibly more stable partner, demonstrates yet again that he’s much more than a ridiculously pretty face.”

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Gerry is a talented but down-on-his-luck gambler whose fortunes begin to change when he meets Curtis, a younger, highly charismatic poker player. The two strike up an immediate friendship and Gerry quickly persuades his new friend to accompany him on a road trip to a legendary high stakes poker game in New Orleans. As they make their way down the Mississippi River, Gerry and Curtis manage to find themselves in just about every bar, racetrack, casino, and pool hall they can find, experiencing both incredible highs and dispiriting lows, but ultimately forging a deep and genuine bond that will stay with them long after their adventure is over.

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8 Woman in Gold
imdb
rating

7.3

Woman in Gold (2015)

Drama, History

Woman in Gold has an awful lot going for it, including a fascinating real-life story and a talented cast topped off by the mighty Helen Mirren. Unfortunately, while there’s plenty of drama to be wrought from the tale of a Jewish refugee battling the Austrian government for ownership of a Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt, much of it went missing on its journey to the big screen. Although critics were quick to praise Mirren’s work, and had kind words for Reynolds’ portrayal of a rookie lawyer enlisted to help win back the painting, many critics felt Woman in Gold lacked the depth and dramatic pull its story deserved — which is not to say the movie didn’t have its fans. “Sometimes you know a movie is going to work in about the first three scenes,” wrote Wesley Morris for Grantland. “This one really works.”

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Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.

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Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann   Ryan Reynolds as Randol Schoenberg   Tatiana Maslany as Young Maria Altmann   Katie Holmes as Pam   Max Irons as Fritz   Charles Dance as Sherman   Daniel Brühl as    Elizabeth McGovern as   

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7 The Voices
imdb
rating

6.3

The Voices (2015)

Thriller, Comedy, Crime

For most films, making your main protagonist an employee at a bathtub factory would more than fulfill the weirdness quotient. But for 2015’s The Voices, that’s just the beginning of a surreal odyssey into bloody violence and black comedy — oh, and talking pets. Directed by acclaimed graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi by a script from Paranormal Activity 2 co-writer Michael R. Perry, The Voices gives Reynolds free rein to indulge in all manner of strange behavior, but for the most part, critics agreed that the movie stays on the right side of the line between refreshingly different and quirky for quirky’s sake, and while its main character’s warped descent into a bleak, chaotic psychological abyss definitely isn’t for all viewers, those with a taste for the strange might find the end results intoxicating. As Sara Stewart wrote for the New York Post, “Ryan Reynolds is chillingly perfect as a nice-guy factory worker struggling with schizophrenia and murderous impulses in this tonally wild indie, which is nearly too horrifying to be funny — but not quite.”

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A mentally unhinged factory worker must decide whether to listen to his talking cat and become a killer, or follow his dog's advice to keep striving for normalcy.

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Ryan Reynolds as Jerry / Mr. Whiskers (voice) / Bosco (voice) / Deer (voice) / Bunny Monkey (voice)   Gemma Arterton as Fiona   Anna Kendrick as Lisa   Jacki Weaver as Dr. Warren   Ella Smith as Alison   Paul Chahidi as Dennis Kowalski   Stanley Townsend as Sheriff Weinbacher   Adi Shankar as John   Sam Spruell as Dave   Valerie Koch as Jerry's Mother   Gulliver McGrath as Jerry (12 years old)   Paul Brightwell as Jerry's Stepfather   Alessa Kordeck as Sheryl   Michael Pink as Jesus  

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6 Safe House
imdb
rating

6.8

Safe House (2012)

Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Reynolds got the chance to go toe-to-toe with Denzel Washington in 2012’s Safe House, an action thriller from director Daniel Espinosa about a rogue CIA operative (Washington) whose interrogation is interrupted by a team of mercenaries that attacks and sends him back into the wind with a low-level field agent (Reynolds). It’s a premise rich with possibilities for cool set pieces and odd-couple bickering, but Safe House never really takes full advantage of those possibilities, settling instead for frenetic editing that can’t quite move fast enough to mask the clichéd plot developments along the way. Still, when the movie gets going, it does have its pleasures; as Colin Covert wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “I won’t deny that the movie hooked me with sheer brute energy and dragged me along with it most of the way.”

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Denzel Washington plays the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he's remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Ryan Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.

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Denzel Washington as Tobin Frost   Ryan Reynolds as Matt Weston   Vera Farmiga as Catherine Linklater   Joel Kinnaman as Keller   Brendan Gleeson as David Barlow   Sam Shepard as Harlan Whitford   Nora Arnezeder as Ana Moreau   Liam Cunningham as Alec Wade   Fares Fares as Vargas   Jenna Dover as CIA Analyst   Stephen Rider as CIA Analyst   Daniel Fox as CIA Analyst   Tracie Thoms as CIA Analyst   Robert Patrick as Daniel Kiefe   Rubén Blades as Carlos Villar   Stephen Bishop as Marine Guard   Tanit Phoenix as Hostess  

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5 Buried
imdb
rating

7.0

Buried (2010)

Drama, Mystery, Thriller

It takes a special kind of creativity and filmmaking discipline — to say nothing of actorly chutzpah — to pull off a film centered around a single person in a single space, and when Reynolds read the script for 2010’s Buried, he had to know he was facing an immense challenge. Both he and director Rodrigo Cortés deserve a ton of credit, then, for making the most out of screenwriter Chris Sparling’s tightly focused story about a military contractor who wakes up imprisoned in a coffin, and turning its seemingly limited premise into a 95-minute white-knuckle race against time. As Rex Reed argued for the New York Observer, “Nothing this underrated actor has done previously measures up to the emotional diversity, focus and self-control required of him in a one-man exercise in underground suspense that Alfred Hitchcock would envy.”

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Paul is a U.S. truck driver working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it's a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.

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Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy   Jose Luis Garcia Perez as Jabir (Voice)   Robert Paterson as Dan Brenner (voice)   Stephen Tobolowsky as Alan Davenport (voice)   Samantha Mathis as Linda Conroy (voice)   Ivana Miño as Pamela Lutti (voice)   Warner Loughlin as Maryanne Conroy / Donna Mitchell / Rebecca Browning (voice)   Erik Palladino as Special Agent Harris (voice)   Kali Rocha as 911 Operator (voice)   Chris William Martin as State Department Rep. (voice)   Cade Dundish as Shane Conroy (voice)   Mary Birdsong as 411 Female Operator (voice)   Kirk Baily as 411 Male Operator (voice)   Anne Lockhart as CRT Operator (voice)   Robert Clotworthy as CRT Spokesman (voice)   Michalla Petersen as Nursing Home Nurse (voice)   Juan Hidalgo as Kidnapper (voice)   Abdelilah Ben Massou as Kidnapper (voice)   Joe Guarneri as Additional Voice (voice)   Heath Centazzo as Additional Voice (voice)  

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4 The Proposal
imdb
rating

6.7

The Proposal (2009)

Comedy, Drama, Romance

It’s a special occasion when critics really go nuts for a romantic comedy — or when rom-com fans care enough about critics’ opinions to stay away from the cineplex even when a new entry in the genre is supposed to be subpar. For proof, look no further than 2009’s The Proposal, which endured a heap of critical brickbats on its way to theaters, yet still managed to roll up an impressive $300 million-plus gross — thanks in no small part to the chemistry between stars Sandra Bullock (as a publishing company’s abrasive editor-in-chief) and Reynolds (as the hapless assistant who’s browbeaten into marrying her to keep her from being deported). It definitely isn’t revolutionary stuff, and you know exactly where the movie’s taking the relationship, but that formula is a big part of the romantic comedy’s appeal. “The Proposal is just a good old-fashioned romance, one in which people actually bring out the best in one another rather than the worst,” wrote Betsy Sharkey for the Los Angeles Times. “How novel is that?”

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When she learns she's in danger of losing her visa status and being deported, overbearing book editor Margaret Tate forces her put-upon assistant, Andrew Paxton, to marry her.

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Sandra Bullock as Margaret Tate   Ryan Reynolds as Andrew Paxton   Mary Steenburgen as Grace Paxton   Craig T. Nelson as Joe Paxton   Betty White as Grandma Annie   Denis O'Hare as Mr. Gilbertson   Malin Åkerman as Gertrude   Oscar Nuñez as Ramone   Aasif Mandvi as Bob Spaulding   Michael Nouri as Chairman Bergen   Michael Mosley as Chuck   Dale Place as Jim McKittrick  

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3 Definitely, Maybe
imdb
rating

7.2

Definitely, Maybe (2008)

Comedy, Romance

A romantic comedy with a twist, Definitely, Maybe finds its protagonist looking back on the love affair that led to marriage and a child — by telling the story to his young daughter, with some names changed and facts adjusted, while in the midst of a divorce. Thanks in part to those narrative curveballs, most critics applauded Maybe — and even if it still ultimately traced a rather familiar arc, it was difficult to find too much fault with a resolutely charming production that made smart use of a likable ensemble cast that included Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. “As the movie is about a character’s growing into his own truth rather than discovering some preordained truth, Definitely, Maybe is hard to outguess,” wrote Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle. “For once in a romantic comedy, you won’t be able to tell after five minutes who will end up together.”

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When Will decides to tell his daughter the story of how he met her mother, he discovers that a second look at the past might also give him a second chance at the future.

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Ryan Reynolds as Will Hayes   Abigail Breslin as Maya Hayes   Elizabeth Banks as Emily   Isla Fisher as April   Rachel Weisz as Summer Hartley   Kevin Kline as Hampton Roth   Derek Luke as Russell McCormack   Liane Balaban as Kelly   Annie Parisse as Anne   Nestor Serrano as Arthur   Kevin Corrigan as Rafael   An Nguyen as Ad Exec   Adam Brooks as Bookstore Owner   Emily Wickersham as 1998 Intern  

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2 The Nines
imdb
rating

6.4

The Nines (2007)

Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Whatever problems The Nines might have, lack of ambition isn’t one of them. This heady sci-fi fantasy, which marked the feature directorial debut of screenwriter John August, stars Reynolds in a triple role as three men struggling to understand the truth behind unusual occurrences in their lives — lives that occasionally intersect — while in the midst of fraught encounters with mysterious women (all played by Hope Davis, in another triple role). It’s the type of trippy metaphysical drama that demands a viewer’s complete concentration, and even then, the answers to the questions it poses are open to interpretation. Still, if you’re in the mood for a less-than-straightforward film, you could do far worse. “Confusing? Yes, and intentionally so,” wrote Christy Lemire for the Associated Press. “But it’s never boring.”

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A troubled actor, a television show runner, and an acclaimed videogame designer find their lives intertwining in mysterious and unsettling ways.

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Ryan Reynolds as Gary / Gavin / Gabriel   Melissa McCarthy as Margaret / Melissa / Mary   Hope Davis as Sarah / Susan / Sierra   Elle Fanning as Noelle   David Denman as Parole Officer/ Agitated Man   Octavia Spencer as Streetwalker   Ben Falcone as Himself   Dahlia Salem as Herself   John Gatins as Himself  

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1 National Lampoon’s Van Wilder
imdb
rating

6.4

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002)

Comedy, Romance

There’s no denying that Ryan Reynolds is genetically well-qualified to play feckless, handsome charmers — or that, by 2002, the world was ready for a fresh take on the slobs-vs.-snobs story that National Lampoon perfected into an art form with Animal House — so National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, starring Reynolds as a legendarily shiftless college student scrambling to preserve his cushy lifestyle after being cut off by his dad, could have been a lot of fun. The problem, as most critics saw it, was that instead of being a schlubby, disadvantaged outsider with an axe to grind against the Man, Reynolds’ character was simply lazy, and thus inherently hard to root for. Still, it gave him an early chance to carry a film, and it’s become something of a cult comedy classic — which is just fine with John Patterson of the L.A. Weekly, who called it “An effervescent campus gross-out comedy that’s true to the amoral, anarchic spirit of Lampoon founder-editor and screenwriter Doug Kenney.”

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Van Wilder is an outgoing, and extremely popular student who has been at Coolidge College for seven years. For the past three years he has made no effort to graduate, instead spending his time organizing parties, helping other students, and posing for figure drawing classes. But after seven years, with no return on his investment, Van's father decides it is time to stop paying Van's tuition.

actors:
Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder   Tara Reid as Gwen Pearson   Tim Matheson as Vance Wilder senior   Kal Penn as Taj Mahal Badalandabad   Simon Helberg as Vernon   Teck Holmes as Hutch   Deon Richmond as Mini Cochran   Alex Burns as Gordon   Paul Gleason as Professor McDoogle   Daniel Cosgrove as Richard Bagg   Emily Rutherfurd as Jeannie  

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