18 Best Jake Gyllenhaal Movies

Jake Gyllenhaal, a talented and versatile actor, has captivated audiences with his impressive range of roles throughout his career. Making his acting debut in the 1991 film City Slickers, he has since established himself as a respected Hollywood figure.

This article delves into the diverse catalog of Jake Gyllenhaal’s movies, discussing his roles and the impact of his performances on the film industry.

18. The Guilty (2021)

“The Guilty” is a 2021 American crime thriller film directed and produced by Antoine Fuqua. Featuring a screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto, this movie is a remake of the 2018 Danish film with the same title. The storyline revolves around a demoted police officer who works at a call dispatch desk and frantically tries to save a kidnapped woman.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as call operator Joe Baylor, a struggling police detective temporarily assigned to a 911 call center. His performance in the film has been widely praised.

17. Nocturnal Animals (2016)

“Nocturnal Animals” is a 2016 drama thriller film that features Jake Gyllenhaal in a leading role. The movie is directed by Tom Ford and based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The ensemble cast includes Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen.

The plot revolves around a wealthy art gallery owner, played by Adams, who is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel. She interprets the violent thriller as a symbolic revenge tale, with Gyllenhaal portraying both her ex-husband and the main character of his novel.

The story alternates between the real life of the gallery owner, who becomes increasingly destabilized as she reads the manuscript, and the gripping events within her ex-husband’s novel. The dual roles played by Gyllenhaal highlight his versatility as an actor and keep the audience engaged as they draw parallels between the fictional story and his character’s past relationship.

16. Prisoners (2013)

“Prisoners” is a 2013 crime drama thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki, who is tasked with investigating the disappearance of two young girls. Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, the desperate father of one of the missing girls, who takes matters into his own hands.

The film’s plot takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride as Detective Loki and Keller Dover clash while searching for the missing girls. Alongside Gyllenhaal and Jackman, the movie also features Viola Davis in a supporting role.

15. The Good Girl (2002)

“The Good Girl,” released in 2002, is an American comedy-drama film directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White. The film stars Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, and John C. Reilly.

Set in a small town, the movie explores the life of Justine (Aniston), a discount store clerk who becomes attracted to a young stock boy named Holden (Gyllenhaal). Fascinated by his interest in literature, particularly The Catcher in the Rye, Justine starts an affair with him.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Holden in the film received positive reviews, showcasing his acting range and complementing Aniston’s performance.

14. The Covenant (2023)

In 2023, the action-drama film “The Covenant” is directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie is set during the war in Afghanistan and features Gyllenhaal as Master Sgt. John Kinley.

The plot revolves around John and his local interpreter, Ahmed, played by Dar Salim. Ahmed risks his life to carry an injured John across miles of grueling terrain. The film boasts an ensemble cast, with Sean Sagar, Jason Wong, Rhys Yates, Christian Ochoa, and Bobby Schofield in supporting roles.

13. End of Watch (2012)

In 2012, Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the film “End of Watch,” directed by David Ayer. This action-adventure crime movie explores the lives of two Los Angeles police officers, played by Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. Shot in a documentary-style format, the film offers a gripping portrayal of the challenges faced by these officers in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Gyllenhaal and Peña’s characters, Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, deal with the violent backlash of exposing members of a drug cartel as they patrol the streets of South Central Los Angeles. The chemistry between these two actors in portraying partners and friends on screen greatly contributed to the movie’s success.

“End of Watch” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2012, and was released in American theaters on September 21. With an engaging storyline and captivating performances, the film grossed over $57 million at the box office.

12. Okja (2017)

Okja is a 2017 science-fantasy action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho, which runs for 121 minutes.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the film, alongside Tilda Swinton and An Seo-hyun. It tells the story of a gentle giant and the girl who raised her, as they find themselves caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed, and scientific ethics.

In Okja, Gyllenhaal plays a character named Johnny Wilcox. He is a zoologist and television personality who becomes involved in the film’s central conflict.

11. Lovely & Amazing (2001)

In 2001, Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the comedy-drama film, “Lovely & Amazing.” Directed and written by Nicole Holofcener, the film features an ensemble cast, including Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, and Troy Ruptash.

The plot revolves around Jane Marks and her three daughters, each dealing with their insecurities in unique ways. While Gyllenhaal does not play a central character, he makes an appearance in a supporting role, contributing to the overall story.

“Lovely & Amazing” examines themes of self-esteem and insecurity, capturing the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. This film showcases Gyllenhaal’s versatile acting abilities as he takes on different roles throughout his career.

10. Donnie Darko (2001)

“Donnie Darko” is a 2001 drama, mystery, and sci-fi film directed by Richard Kelly. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the protagonist Donnie Darko, a troubled teenager who experiences visions of a man in a large rabbit suit.

Set in October 1988, the plot follows Donnie Darko as he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident by sleepwalking, leading to a series of emotional and psychological challenges.

The film showcases a blend of drama, romance, sci-fi, and mystery, pulling viewers into its enigmatic world. The interplay between character relationships and unfolding events, combined with the film’s complex timeline, has left viewers pondering its meaning for years.

9. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

In 2018, Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the Western film, “The Sisters Brothers”. Directed by Jacques Audiard, the movie is based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt. This film marks Audiard’s first English-language work and is an American and French co-production.

Gyllenhaal plays a supporting role alongside other notable actors such as John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Riz Ahmed. The story follows Eli and Charlie Sisters, two gunslinging assassin brothers, as they chase a gold prospector and his ally in 1850s Oregon.

8. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

“Brokeback Mountain” is a 2005 neo-Western romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as the main characters. Adapted from Annie Proulx’s 1997 short story, the screenplay was written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry.

The film explores the complicated relationship between two sheepherders, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Set in 1963 Wyoming, they develop a sexual and emotional bond over the years. The story unfolds as the characters struggle to maintain their secret relationship while being married to their respective wives.

Brokeback Mountain received widespread critical acclaim, with many praising the performances of Gyllenhaal and Ledger. The film has been recognized for its impact on the LGBTQ+ community, addressing themes of love, secrecy, and societal stigma.

7. Stronger (2017)

“Stronger” is a 2017 American biographical drama film featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead actor. Directed by David Gordon Green and written by John Pollono, the film is based on the memoir of the same name by Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter.

The film portrays the real-life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who became a symbol of hope and resilience after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. This tragic event led to the amputation of both his legs.

The film dives deep into the emotional aftermath of the incident and follows Bauman’s journey towards physical and mental recovery. Stronger showcases the impact of the bombing not only on Bauman but also on his relationships with family and friends.

6. Zodiac (2007)

In 2007, the neo-noir mystery thriller film “Zodiac” was directed by David Fincher. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a cartoonist turned amateur detective named Robert Graysmith. It is based on the non-fiction books by Graysmith himself, Zodiac (1986) and Zodiac Unmasked (2002).

The film follows Graysmith’s obsession with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorized Northern California with a killing spree from 1968 to 1983. The movie also stars Robert Downey Jr. as an ace reporter and Mark Ruffalo as an investigator.

5. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

In 2019, Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the action-adventure film, “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Gyllenhaal took on the role of Quentin Beck, also known as Mysterio. This movie is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and follows the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio is introduced as a superhero from another dimension, fighting against massive elemental creatures. He teams up with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to defeat these monstrous threats.

As the story unfolds, the true nature of Mysterio’s character is revealed. He manipulates the perception of reality, using cutting-edge technology to create illusions and control the narrative. This brings a layer of complexity to Gyllenhaal’s role and makes him a memorable antagonist in the Spider-Man series.

4. October Sky (1999)

“October Sky” is a 1999 American biographical drama film, featuring a notably young Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his breakout roles. Directed by Joe Johnston, the cast also includes Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, and Laura Dern.

The film is based on Homer Hickam’s autobiographical novel, Rocket Boys. The story revolves around a coal miner’s son who gets inspired by the Sputnik launch and strives to pursue his passion for rocketry, defying the expectations of his community.

In the movie, Gyllenhaal plays the role of Homer Hickam, showcasing his talent and range as a young actor. This drama ultimately helped to launch his successful career in Hollywood.

3. Source Code (2011)

In 2011, Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the science fiction film “Source Code.” He played the character Colter Stevens, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. The film is notable for its unique blend of sci-fi and romance elements.

The storyline revolves around Colter participating in an experimental government program. Within the program, he experiences the last eight minutes of another person’s life repeatedly, in order to prevent a train bombing.

2. Wildlife (2018)

“Wildlife” is a 2018 American drama film featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan as the lead actors. It marked the directorial debut of actor Paul Dano, who both directed and co-produced the movie. The screenplay, written by Dano and Zoe Kazan, is an adaptation of the 1990 novel by Richard Ford.

Set in the 1960s in Montana, the film revolves around a family in crisis. Gyllenhaal plays the father and breadwinner of the family, while Mulligan takes on the role of his wife. They have a teenage son, played by Ed Oxenbould.

The plot begins with Gyllenhaal’s character leaving the family to take on a dangerous job fighting forest fires. Mulligan’s character struggles to cope with the sudden absence, drawing the audience deep into the heart of a disintegrating family unit.

1. Nightcrawler (2014)

“Nightcrawler” is a 2014 American neo-noir psychological thriller film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the main character, Louis “Lou” Bloom. The movie is set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles and marks the directorial debut of Dan Gilroy.

Gyllenhaal delivers a captivating performance as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work. He discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism and becomes involved in filming violent events, crashes, fires, and other mayhem.

The film delves into the dark side of media and the lengths individuals go for success in a competitive industry. The movie received critical acclaim for its bold storytelling, and Gyllenhaal’s powerful performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-watch films in Jake Gyllenhaal’s career?

Some must-watch Jake Gyllenhaal films include “Nightcrawler”, “Donnie Darko”, “Brokeback Mountain”, “Zodiac”, “Prisoners”, and “Enemy”. These movies showcase Gyllenhaal’s versatile acting skills, as well as his ability to convey complex emotions and character development.

Which cop movies has Jake Gyllenhaal starred in?

Jake Gyllenhaal has portrayed law enforcement characters in films such as “End of Watch”, “Zodiac”, “Prisoners”, and “The Guilty”. These roles have allowed him to display his range as an actor, tackling intense situations and developing layered, realistic characters.

What is Jake Gyllenhaal’s highest-rated film on IMDb?

“Zodiac” is Jake Gyllenhaal’s highest-rated film on IMDb, followed closely by “Prisoners” and “Nightcrawler”. These films showcase Gyllenhaal’s talent for portraying complex characters and his ability to work with high-caliber directors, such as David Fincher and Denis Villeneuve.

Does Jake Gyllenhaal have any siblings in the acting industry?

Yes, Jake Gyllenhaal has a sibling in the acting industry – his older sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal. She is a talented actress known for her roles in films like “Secretary”, “Sherrybaby”, and “The Dark Knight”. The siblings have also co-starred in “Donnie Darko”.

What was the most recent movie Jake Gyllenhaal appeared in?

The most recent movie Jake Gyllenhaal appeared in is “The Guilty”. In this film, he plays a demoted officer working late shifts at a 911 call center. Gyllenhaal’s performance was praised for its intensity and his ability to carry the majority of the film’s screen time.