MOVIES

Every Jake Gyllenhaal Movie with 90% or More on Rotten Tomatoes

Jake Gyllenhaal is a respected actor who’s been consistently working in the acting industry since the early nineties. Some young actors get their start on small films that become a blip in their overall acting portfolio.



By contrast, Gyllenhaal’s acting debut in the Western comedy City Slickers was a surprise hit and though he had a small role, it helped propel his career. Since then, he has performed across several genres, from science fiction to drama to romance. Many of his films have loyal followings and are iconic in the impact they’ve had both in the film industry and beyond.


It may come as a shock that many of Gyllenhaal’s most recognizable movies are not his highest-rated on Rotten Tomatoes. The review aggregator can be quite harsh when scoring a film’s “freshness.”

Brokeback Mountain, arguably Gyllenhaal’s best work, has an 88% score. Donnie Darko, another beloved Gyllenhaal film, 87%. His most recent film, a remake of the ’80s classic, Road House, only sports a 59% critics’ score. In fact, only a handful of the actor’s filmography has a 90% score or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. Check out his films that managed to receive a high rating. Some of the entries may surprise you.


Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – 91%


Spider-Man: Far From Home is the second film in the Tom Holland-era Spider-Man movies. This time, our web-shooting hero Peter Parker is gearing up for a two-week trip to Europe with his school. While in Venice, his classmates are attacked by the Water Elemental. Peter is asked to join the fight to destroy the remaining Elemental power, Fire, but he declines. But he won’t be let off the hook that easily.

His classmates are sent to Prague, Czech Republic, where Peter will have no choice but to encounter Fire. Gyllenhaal portrays Quentin Beck, or Mysterio, one of the men hoping Peter will help destroy the Elementals.

A Nice Addition to the MCU

When people think of the current Spider-Man movies, obviously Tom Holland and Zendaya are front of mind. They are the faces of the film and huge box office draws. Yet, the supporting cast’s involvement should not be overlooked. By the time this sequel premiered, many fans had grown fond of Peter Parker and M.J., so adding on new characters is always a risk.


Will fans appreciate them? Or will they be viewed as taking away screentime from our protagonists? The answer will differ based on each character, but Mysterio was certainly a bonus to the film. He’s powerful and cunning and adds a lot of fun to this successful franchise. Stream on Disney+.

Zodiac (2007) – 90%

Zodiac

Zodiac

Release Date
March 2, 2007

Runtime
157

True crime fans have likely heard of the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer who struck fear in those living in or around the San Francisco Bay Area during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Zodiac shows a month after a couple was gunned down, a local newspaper receives a letter taking responsibility for the incident.

The writer refers to himself as “Zodiac” and leaves the first of a string of coded messages. If that’s not disturbing enough, he vows to kill a dozen people if the code isn’t cracked. Robert Graysmith, a political cartoonist, believes Zodiac is lying about his identity being in the message. Robert is brushed aside by many, which makes him delve deeper into this frustrating case.


A Non-Sensational True Crime Film

A common criticism of media about serial killers is the glamorization of the criminal. However, because the Zodiac has yet to be identified, it made sense that other individuals close to the case would be centered. Gyllenhaal took on the role of Robert, Mark Ruffalo played an inspector who worked the case, and Robert Downey Jr. was crime reporter Paul Avery.

Despite this film boasting such a large cast, things never get muddied or difficult to follow. This is another film that just reached 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, though it seems low compared to other true crime films. It’s apparent that so much research went into this two-and-a-half-hour film, and even earned the number 12 spot on the BBC’s list of the greatest films of the 21st Century.

Related: Jake Gyllenhaal: The Alfred Hitchcock of Acting

October Sky (1999) – 91%

October Sky

October Sky

Release Date
February 19, 1999

Runtime
108 Minutes


October Sky is one of Gyllenhaal’s earliest films and serves as a preview for the great actor he’d blossom into. It’s a drama based on a memoir about a young man named Homer Hickam. Most men in the aptly named Coalwood, Virginia, work as coal miners. Homer’s dad himself is the mine superintendent and expects his son to follow his path.

However, Homer wants out of the monotonous life of Coalwood. When he watches the first artificial satellite launched by the Soviet Union take flight, he is inspired. Against his father and the town’s wishes, Homer sets out on a journey that will eventually lead him to NASA.

What Makes it Great?

In biographical dramas, many of those tuning into these films already know the outcome. Here, viewers may be aware that Homer came from a humble background and eventually became a NASA engineer. The key to the success of these films is diving into the why and how, both of which October Sky answers emotionally and inspirationally.


Gyllenhaal played Homer, adopted the thick country accent, and tapped into the optimism, intelligence, and resilience the real-life man had to display in his life. The supporting cast also helped buoy this film’s Rotten Tomatoes score to 91%, specifically Laura Dern as Homer’s science teacher. All in all, whether a science buff or not, you’ll end up connecting with this heartfelt underdog story. Rent on Apple TV.

Source Code (2011) – 92%

Source Code

Release Date
April 1, 2011

Runtime
93 Minutes


Many people would jump at the chance to relive a moment from the past. That is, unless they find themselves in the situation of Colter Stevens in Source Code. In this science fiction movie, Colter, a U.S. Army pilot Captain is unsettled when he wakes up in another man’s body on a train heading for Chicago.

The last thing he remembered was flying around Afghanistan. As he’s getting his bearings, another train passes by, exploding, and killing everyone. Later, he receives communication from the Air Force Captain that he will be sent back in time again to gather intel on where the bomb was planted and, more importantly, who the guilty party is.

Repetition Without Boring Audiences

This is one of the most gory Groundhog Day-like scenarios ever. Whenever Stevens is brought back to the train, he gathers a new piece of the puzzle, but he’s also bombarded with even more questions. Viewers will be just as involved in outsmarting this whodunit before time runs out.


Each time he’s given eight minutes to figure it out, and that ticking clock element works wonderfully in this sort of film. It may be too late for these passengers, but the Army believes solving this one can prevent future attacks. The premise of Source Code isn’t the wildest or most inventive, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Stream on Max.

Related: Here Are 7 Movies About Being Stuck in the Same Day, Ranked

Wildlife (2018) – 94%

Wildlife

Release Date
January 1, 2019

Runtime
105 Minutes

Wildlife is a great watch for Gyllenhaal fans, as he not only starred in the movie, but also co-produced it. This drama is based on a novel published in 1990. Jerry Brinson (Gyllenhaal) has moved to Great Falls, Montana with his wife Jeanette and their son Joe. A move is stressful enough, so when Jerry is fired from his job, it adds even more pressure to their situation.


The firing is a huge blow to his ego, so even when given the chance to return to his old job, he turns the offer down. Jeanette and Joe must pivot their lives, taking jobs and the latter dropping out of extracurricular activities. Jeanette hopes Jerry will snap out of his funk and get a job to help support the family. Instead, he decides to help firefighters battle a forest fire.

A Fantastic Family Drama

Filmmaker Paul Dano co-wrote, co-produced, and directed (as a debut) this film, which deserves some praise. Each member of the Brinson family was given so much time to develop them as people, allowing viewers to get wholly attached. Gyllenhaal’s character was frustrating at times, with his actions seeming selfish. But there was so much going on beneath the surface, a complexity highlighted through Gyllenhaal’s performance.

It flew relatively under the radar, especially compared to some of Carey Mulligan (who played Jeanette) and Gyllenhaal’s other projects, yet one watch makes it evident why the Rotten Tomatoes score is so high. Rent on Apple TV.


Stronger (2017) – 90%

Stronger

Stronger

Release Date
September 22, 2017

Runtime
119 Minutes

Stronger is an emotional biographical drama about a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Jeff Bauman lives an unassuming life. He works at Costco, lives with his mother, and lacks direction in his life. Jeff learns that his ex-girlfriend is running the Boston Marathon and decides to wait at the finish line to celebrate her achievement.

To his surprise, on race day, a bomb explodes where he’s standing. Although he made it out of this traumatic ordeal with his life intact, the same cannot be said of his body. Suddenly, Jeff must navigate life as a double amputee.

A Strong & Forgotten Film

The sense of foreboding is heavy, as viewers all know what’s to come for Jeff and the hundreds of other victims. Stronger was released just four years after the actual incident, and perhaps that was too soon for people to relive such an event on screen. It flopped at the box office, not even reaching $10 million.


Despite this, those who saw the film agreed that everything from the performances to not sensationalizing such an event was handled well. Technically, this film is right on the cusp with a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it may be the one that stays with viewers the longest. Stream on Netflix.

Related: 12 Underrated Jake Gyllenhaal Movies, Ranked

Nightcrawler (2014) – 95%


Nightcrawler is a thriller surrounding a man named Lou. While many films center on a protagonist who is on the up and up, Lou leads a life full of petty crime. After completing a theft and narrowly getting away, Lou pulls over when he notices a car crash. Stringers, aka freelance journalists, are on the scene. He learns he can make money by capturing news and selling it to outlets and news stations. Given his already loose morals, this is a sure setup for disaster.

A Compelling and Creepy Anti-Hero

Nightcrawler is Gyllenhaal’s highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes that he’s starred in. Many films explore unethical reporters, but this film takes it one step further by exposing how the public participates in it. Outlets wouldn’t continue to do so if there wasn’t a demand for it, a fact that may make viewers uncomfortable. But the film is far from being a finger-wagging lesson for viewers. It lives up to the genre category, giving viewers plenty of nail-biting, heart-rate-spiking moments to dial into.

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