Jake Gyllenhaal’s Top 3 Psychological Thrillers
— Updated on 2 August 2021

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Top 3 Psychological Thrillers

— Updated on 2 August 2021
John McMahon
John McMahon

I’m going to go out on a whim here and make a pretty big claim. Jake Gyllenhaal movies, in my opinion, are some one of the most underrated of our generation (including his tranformation in Velvet Buzzsaw).

Sure, he’s won critical acclaim where it was due, Southpaw is the go-to film in this regard – and he’s had his fair share of underwhelming appearances, also. But something clicked in my head just this week when I watched Nightcrawler for the first time. A little late to the party, I know, but it was just one of those films that I had looked past so many times, only to be pushed by my mate Oli to finally give it a go.

After watching, I soon realised that three of my favourite psychological thrillers this past decade starred none other than the man in question, Jake Gyllenhaal.

If you’re stuck for a captivating, exhilarating watch and are looking for three varied, peak performances from Gyllenhaal, give any of these a go next movie night (in no particular order).

Top Jake Gyllenhaal Movies: Psychological Thrillers

Nightcrawler (2014)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Jake Gyllenhaal: Nightcrawler

This is probably the most left-field performance from Gyllenhaal, a true testament to his dynamic ability. Gyllenhaal plays L.A. con man Louis Bloom, desperate for work and driven to succeed. Bloom finds himself profiting from the gritty underworld of urban crime, blurring the line between observer and participant.

Gyllenhaal excels in his natural talent to portray a haunting, monstrous personality that won’t let you look at him the same way again. Louis Bloom is one of the most memorable characters you’ll watch for years, earning Nightcrawler a rightful place in our top three thrillers here at Boss Hunting.

Prisoners (2013)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Jake Gyllenhaal: Prisoners

One of the Jake Gyllenhaal movies that’s not for the faint of heart, we don’t recommend watching this on a rainy Sunday while you’re hungover feeling sorry for yourself. This is a heavy film and one where Gyllenhaal isn’t actually front and centre the entire time. Alongside Hugh Jackman and Terrance Howard, Gyllenhaal plays Detective Loki, a police officer tasked with investigating the disappearance of two kidnapped young girls.

One of our favourite films of all time, this extremely gritty, thought-provoking piece of dark cinema really invites the audience to unravel the clues as they present themselves on their own accord. The moral ambiguity on both Jackman and Gyllenhaal’s side of the ordeal force you empathise with their choices, and consider what your own would be in such a situation.

Award-winning director Dennis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival), creates one of the tensest atmospheres you’ll ever experience in a true thriller alongside a tight script, supporting career-defining performances from both Jackman & Gyllenhaal.

Zodiac (2007)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Jake Gyllenhaal: Zodiac

A quiet, dialogue-driven thriller based on the true story of a notorious serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 70’s, Zodiac deserves praise for a series of stellar performances that cannot only be attributed to Gyllenhaal, but also his co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr.

This low-key thriller has more layers of complexity than the previous two films mentioned but offers a chance for Gyllenhaal & co. to explore ingenious character development in an expertly recreated tone of the 1970’s. Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of a curious cartoonist adamant on adding his two cents to an unfolding manhunt, is, again, a premium showcase of his talents earning Zodiac a worthy mention in this top three from the man himself.

Honourable mention: Donnie Darko.

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John McMahon
John McMahon is a founding member of the Boss Hunting team who honed his craft by managing content across website and social. Now, he's the publication's General Manager and specialises in bringing brands to life on the platform.


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