1. Deadpool (2016)

IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%

Storyline: Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, “Deadpool” follows Wade Wilson, a dishonorably-discharged special forces operative turned mercenary, treated with an experimental cure for cancer. The cure gives him superhuman healing powers but severely disfigures him. Adopting the alter ego Deadpool, Wade becomes an anti-hero out to exact revenge on those responsible for his disfigurement.

Performance: Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool delivered a standout performance that made him a household name. His portrayal of the ‘merc with a mouth’ was effortlessly charismatic, humorously irreverent and tender simultaneously. His flawless balance of humor, vulgarity, and emotional depth appealed to both the fans and critics alike, making it his magnum opus.

Why it’s a major performance: The film indeed served as a perfect platform for Reynolds, displaying his talent for comic timing and physical acting – attributes that were pivotal for the character. The role was special because he reprised it after a disastrous first attempt in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. Overcoming the previous setback, Reynolds delivered a groundbreaking performance and redeemed the character, giving the audience an unforgettable ‘Deadpool’.

2. Buried (2010)

IMDB Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%

Storyline: In “Buried”, Reynolds played Paul Conroy, an American truck driver in Iraq who wakes up to find himself buried alive inside a coffin with just a lighter and a cell phone. With 90 minutes of oxygen left, Paul must work against time to figure a way out of this deadly predicity.

Performance: Reynolds provided a riveting performance that showcased his acting range. Occupying the screen for the entire duration of the film, his phenomenal portrayal of a man fighting desperation, fear, and anxiety was both intense and emotionally appealing.

Why it’s a major performance: “Buried” proved that Reynolds could handle serious roles and carry a movie solely on his back. Performing virtually alone, Reynolds was able to engage the audience with his convincing act of claustrophobia and desperation. This film strengthened his range as an actor, highlighting his capacity to explore characters beyond the comic genre.

3. The Proposal (2009)

IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44%

Storyline: In this romantic comedy, Reynolds plays Andrew Paxton, an executive assistant to Margaret Tate, a Canadian who faces deportation for an expired visa. To prevent this, Margaret schemes to marry Andrew, forcing him to comply in exchange for a promotion.

Performance: In “The Proposal”, Reynolds perfectly balanced the quirky humor and romantic charm portraying an underdog smitten by love. His natural comedic timing and palpable chemistry with co-lead Sandra Bullock made for a delightful watch.

Why it’s a major performance: The film proved that Reynolds could not only handle leading roles with aplomb but also excel in the romantic comedy genre. His portrayal of Andrew Paxton showcased his ability to bring depth to a character, embodying the role’s nuances while making the audience root for him.

4. Definitely, Maybe (2008)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 71%

Storyline: “Definitely, Maybe” is a fresh take on the romantic-comedy-drama genre, where Reynolds’ character Will Hayes, in the midst of a divorce, narrates his romantic past to his little daughter in a mystery format, letting her guess who her mother is among his past girlfriends.

Performance: Reynolds’ performance is charming and nuanced. His character’s evolution from a young, idealistic man to a mature, world-weary divorcee is brought to life by his careful acting.

Why it’s a major performance: Reynolds’ performance in “Definitely, Maybe” shows his ability to engage the audience with charm and wit. It also adds another feather to his cap as a ‘rom-com’ lead, highlighting his versatility.

5. The Voices (2014)

IMDB Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%

Storyline: In this black comedy, Reynolds plays Jerry, a mentally unstable factory worker who takes advice from his cat and dog, leading him onto a path of serial murder.

Performance: Reynolds’ sublime performance as the psychotic anti-hero, colored by a childlike innocence and a disturbing underlying menace, is nothing short of remarkable.

Why it’s a major performance: “The Voices” stands as evidence of Reynolds’ wide acting range – from the flamboyant Deadpool to a deranged serial killer. His brilliant portrayal of a deeply troubled character situated within a black comedy proves that Reynolds isn’t confined to typecasting.

6. Mississippi Grind (2015)

IMDB Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%

Storyline: Reynolds plays Curtis, an itinerant gambler, who pairs up with a debt-ridden Gerry to traverse Southern US gambling venues aiming for a big win.

Performance: Reynolds, as the charismatic and unflappable Curtis, holds his own against Ben Mendelsohn’s intense performance, showcasing his capability of nuanced, serious performances.

Why it’s a major performance: With “Mississippi Grind”, Reynolds proved he could deliver rich, character-driven performances within dramatic narratives. His significant turn as Curtis emphasized his talent for portraying complex characters with empathy and realism.

7. The Nines (2007)

IMDB Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%

Storyline: The film interprets today’s world as a game, where Reynolds portrays three different roles that interlock in various mysterious ways.

Performance: Reynolds’ meticulous and well-differentiated performances of the three different roles are commendable, providing a suspenseful and immersive viewing experience.

Why it’s a major performance: Reynolds’ performances in “The Nines” are multi-faceted and diverse, showcasing his ability to tackle complex narrative styles and roles. The movie demonstrates his flair for thought-provoking and multifarious roles, further solidifying his acting prowess.

8. Adventureland (2009)

IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%

Storyline: Set in the summer of 1987 and centered on a recent college grad who takes a nowhere job at his local amusement park, the film has Reynolds playing Connell, a philandering maintenance man.

Performance: Reynolds shows depth in his rather small but meaningful role, conveying a sense of quiet desperation and disappointment that leaves a mark.

Why it’s a major performance: While “Adventureland” is an ensemble piece, Reynolds stands out in his performance. His underplayed portrayal of a man engaged in a false life allowed Reynolds to provide a heartfelt performance that proved his strength as a serious actor.

9. Safe House (2012)

IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53%

Storyline: A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.

Performance: Ryan Reynolds, as the naive but ambitious agent, delivers a commendable performance. Pairing up with Denzel Washington, Reynolds holds his own with intensity and determination.

Why it’s a major performance: In “Safe House”, Reynolds veers away from his comedic roles to play a gritty, intense character charged with high stakes. His believable portrayal of a reluctant yet driven young agent explores his capabilities as a dramatic actor, assuring his diversity and versatility.

10. Woman in Gold (2015)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53%

Storyline: Based on true events, the film tracks Reynolds as Randol Schoenberg, a lawyer who helps an elderly Jewish refugee, Maria Altman, reclaim family possessions seized by the Nazis.

Performance: Reynolds’ portrayal of a greenhorn law practitioner developing into a dedicated advocate is sincere and compelling. His scenes with Helen Mirren further highlight his strong acting skills.

Why it’s a major performance: “Woman in Gold” offers Reynolds an opportunity to play a real-life character in a historical narrative. Despite the film’s solemn theme, Reynolds’ character also has moments of light-heartedness and humor, reminding us of his ability to maintain equilibrium in his roles. His performance in this film further proves that he can hold his own alongside veteran actors.