Last Updated on February 9, 2024
Jake Gyllenhaal is an Academy Award nominee actor born into a Hollywood family full of directors and screenwriters. He has a talent for films that portray intense subject matter and also action and romance. If you’re a Gyllenhaal fan, then head on over to our master list of his best work!
1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist are hired to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain for the summer. After a drunken tryst one night, Ennis tries to keep it a one-time thing but they still develop a deep bond.
The men separate, and settle down with wives and children. But four years later a chance encounter rekindles their painful attraction and this time Jack insists that they create a life together. Ennis’s reluctance to lose his children has tragic results.
2. Brothers (2009)
When Tommy Cahill’s brother, Sam, goes missing in the US war in Afghanistan, Tommy consoles his sister-in-law and steps up to take care of his nieces. Believing Sam to be dead, they begin a relationship. However, when Sam turns out to be alive and severely traumatized by his combat experiences, things take a dark turn.
Unhinged by the realization that his wife and brother had an affair, Sam drags his family down a slippery slope that explores PTSD in heartbreaking – and at times, terrifying – detail.
3. End of Watch (2012)
Shot in a realistic documentary style, this action thriller follows Los Angeles Police Department officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala who works in a high-crime neighborhood. After they arrest a suspect, clues lead the partners to a house where human trafficking victims are kept and their interference earn them the hatred of a dangerous cartel.
Taylor and Zavala continue to enjoy their friendship, work, and families as the threat of the gang grow, culminating in an action-packed standoff that changes their lives forever.
4. Enemy (2014)
When quiet college professor Adam Bell discovers that he has a doppelganger in actor Anthony Claire, he begins to stalk Claire to find the man who could possibly be his twin. While Adam is driven by curiosity, Anthony is a darker character who, when he becomes aware of the situation, finds himself attracted to Adam’s girlfriend.
The toxic fascination between the two men grows to the point where they both want what the other one has. Using deception to burrow into each other’s lives, the consequences are deadly and surreal.
5. Nightcrawler (2014)
Petty thief Louis Bloom cannot find work. After he witnesses a car crash and freelance photographers descend on the scene, he’s piqued by the financial implications after one of the men tells Louis that they sell their footage to local news agencies.
Louis decides that this is the perfect gig for him. But with the stiff competition from other photographers and the public’s need to see more graphic news stories, Louis resorts to illegal activities to get the best shots of crimes in progress.
6. Prisoners (2013)
Detective Loki is assigned to investigate the disappearance of two small girls, Anna and Joy, who vanished while their families were celebrating Thanksgiving together. A sighting of a suspicious RV leads Loki to arrest a man called Alex but he soon realizes that his IQ is not high enough to make him dangerous.
Frustrated by the suspect’s release, Anna Dover’s father kidnaps and tortures Alex, plunging the families into a moral dilemma of how far they should go to find their daughters. As Loki’s own frustration with the case grows, he discovers that the race against time is inviting his own dark side to emerge.
7. Zodiac (2007)
Based on a true story, this mystery thriller follows the serial killer who called himself the “Zodiac.”
The Zodiac sends an encrypted message to several newspapers, demanding that it be published or he will kill again. Political cartoonist Robert Graysmith works at the San Francisco Chronicle, which also received a letter. Initially excluded from the investigation, Graysmith launches his own investigation which costs him his job and marriage but his search culminates in a best-selling book – and a possible face-to-face meeting with the Zodiac killer.
8. Stronger (2017)
Based on another true story, Jeff Bauman lives unnoticed and has a dead-end job. One night he meets his ex-girlfriend Erin in a bar and when she tells him that she’s going to run in the Boston Marathon, he decides to support her. When the day comes, he stands in the crowd near the finishing line. When the now-infamous bomb goes off, Jeff loses both of his legs.
Jeff’s eyewitness account of the bomber leads to an important arrest and plunges him into the spotlight. Unable to cope with the trauma of the event and his sudden fame, Jeff descends into a dark place before he realizes that he has the strength to get up and walk again.
9. Everest (2015)
In another film based on an incredible true story, Gyllenhaal plays an expedition leader called Scott Fischer who leads a group of climbers up Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. The party successfully summits but when they start to descend, a terrifying storm hits Everest. The group falls prey to altitude sickness, a lack of oxygen and the blizzard also destroys the trail. In their fight to survive, not everyone will make it home.
10. The Good Girl (2002)
Justine and Holder work at Retail Rodeo as cashiers. Both are introverted and feel that there is more to life. They begin a passionate relationship but there is one problem – Justine is already married to a marijuana-smoking house painter. The comedy-drama explores how boredom and existential crisis can spiral out of control leaving no winners.