Ryan Gosling did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe as well as several critic awards, for portraying Dean in Blue Valentine.
Something that commonly occurs with Oscar nominations is films where it seems the actors performances are inseparable the Oscars go and separate them. This is occurred most recently with Amour where Emmanuelle Riva was nominated but Jean Louis Trintignant was nominated. This has happened several times despite it seeming like one could get along the way they do without the other but this did occur for Ryan Gosling as well. Michelle Williams was nominated for portraying the female side of the relationship Cindy while Ryan Gosling as the male side Dean was not despite the film being primarily about their interactions while they are beginning their relationship as well as while they seem to be ending it.
Gosling portrays Dean who is the more explosive of the two in the relationship. Williams's portrays Cindy as somewhat restrained and she emphasizes the distance cold manner of her. Her change between her is really the level of coldness she has. Gosling gets the more flamboyant role as Dean who early on the film is a bit of a hopeless romantic. Gosling definitely does not play the role like your traditional hopeless romantic in any way, even if he is one. Gosling takes his very own approach to the character who he plays him as not exactly the most stable sort. Gosling does this really quite well because he makes Dean a quirky energetic fellow in everything that he does has a certain quirk yet Gosling feels very down to earth with his performance.
Gosling emphasizes the spontaneity of his performance which he does as both the young and the old Dean quite effectively. As the young Dean he is a man of his very own style as shown in the romantic scenes between Dean and Cindy. Gosling is honestly very charming in a very different fashion in just how much that he expresses Dean's beliefs in the idea of love that he holds. As the young Dean Gosling suggests him honestly working toward some sort of substantial relationship with Cindy even though mostly what he does technically speaking is very much just on an the surface attraction and connection. The truth is they never do get right down to the matter of love, and both actors probably accentuate that disconnect within the connection.
Importantly Gosling is not at all fun and games as Dean. Dean is not a stable man by any means. Gosling makes Dean a man who is a bit in his own world at times even though when there is something that breaks it Gosling powerfully shows that it really does hurt him. Gosling interestingly makes his flamboyance almost a way just make himself happy as there is a great deal of sadness in Dean from his inability to live the life he wishes to live. Gosling is excellent the way he gets across the rapid changes in Dean's emotional state throughout the film, that can even change to an extreme extent in a single scene. He gets across the small moments of joys but as well as the pains that he goes through with his relationship with Cindy.
The scenes with the young Dean are shown inter spliced with the scenes of the older Dean after he and Cindy have gotten married. Gosling again still keeps that unpredictability in Dean yet now he has lost any joy that seemed to be in him before. Dean no longer is the exuberant charmer but rather a bitter overly possessive man. Gosling absolutely succeeds in this changed and makes the change as disheartening as it should be since he makes him the same man with time. It is quite disconcerting because he still exhibits some of the same behavior as he did before but now it frankly has lost the heart. There isn't any charm any more in his portrayal which adds so much in presenting the loss of life in Dean as he sees how his dream relationship has turned out.
Gosling and Williams both succeed incredibly well in portraying the death of the relationship by amplifying that disconnection between the two of them. William's making the coldness in Cindy only growing more and seeming more uninvolved than ever, and Gosling showing the insecurities that Dean has over his ideas for life have only grown more and more. The two of them together are great as they succeed in making the two people who do not seem like they were meant to be together, but they what they do so well is able to convey the tragedy of the relationship. The tragedy that they create is that in their severe problems in their disconnection is that in their past there was honestly something between them.
Gosling gives a very strong performance as this troubled man in both his youth and after having aged into bitterness. He gives credence to every aspect of the man from the more positive moments involving his unique charming but as well the terrible behavior that surfaces in the man within time. It is a great individual performance, but where the film succeeds most is in the creation of the relationship between the two actors. His portrayal of the changes that Dean goes through along with Williams portrayal of what Cindy goes through leaves a memorable impression. They create together a unique relationship that never shy away from going into the blunt details of it all from the scenes of happiness to the uncompromising scenes of despair.