The Best Of…Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac is one of the best actors of our generation. Alongside James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, you cannot fault his performance (though you can fault his film choices.) The actor has come bounding into our lives and solidified a place at the top of the shelf. His work in phenomenal independents to the biggest blockbusters is always met with the same passionate performance.

Funnily enough, the aforementioned McAvoy and Fassbender fight Isaac’s latest villain in X-Men: Apocalypse, which is out today. TO celebrate its release, we take a look at Oscar Isaac’s essential movies.

Balibo (2009)

Portraying a real life character is always such a difficult task. The terrible story of East Timor and its struggle for independence, as well as the Australian journalists who lost their lives trying to uncover the truth should be done with sensitivity. Oscar Isaac had a trickier role to portray: The pivotal and integral activist Jose Ramos-Horta who would later become president of the country. Able to tackle the weighty and visceral elements of the real life figure, he intricately weaves determination to succeed over their oppressors.

The scene where he is confronted with a field of bodies will haunt you.


Drive (2011)

Nicolas Winding Refn’s poetic noir thriller is very much Ryan Gosling’s film. The stoic and brooding Driver with no name is a slick, daring, and often brooding “protagonist” that gripped us in a frenzy of superb film making. Oscar Isaac, however, strides into the film and promptly steals the scenes he is in. Playing Standard, the ex-con husband of our Driver’s love interest, he is a slightly menacing and desperate neighbour who struggles to keep clean after he is released from jail. Isaac plays him well enough to feel somewhat sympathy and the actor allows a chilling wave of intensity to flow not far from the surface.


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

For many, their introduction into the nuanced talents of Oscar Isaac came in the soulful and utterly compelling Coen Brother’s movie – Inside Llewyn Davis. Starring as the titular character, Isaac portrays a gruff folk singer who bounces from performance to performance and house to house barely scraping by. Resentful and bitter, in hands of any other actor, Llewyn would be an unlikeable oaf. But with Oscar Isaac, he enthuses the struggle, the pain, and the ache of trying but failing at every turn. Layering the character with emotion, he’s able to showcase his inner-turmoil that is hidden underneath the sarcasm and failings. Only a gifted performer could make a simpering artist, who curses the world and his friends at the same time, into a multi-faceted and earnest character.


A Most Violent Year (2014)

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac have been bosom buddies since they first attend Juillard and the chemistry between them is clear in J. C. Chandor’s work about a businessman plagued by corruption and the police. As Abel Morales, Isaac heightens his levity with a redolent intensity that enhances the viewing experience. Addled with desperation as he is met with horrid situation after horrid situation, the film is made triumphant by Isaac’s understanding of every character he meets – complexities and all.  Even away from the crime and police pressure, Isaac gifts Morales with a revered yet penetrating stature that stands tall in many scenes.

Ex Machina (2015)

oscar isaac ex machina alex garland

Ex Machina is one of the best films of last year. No, scratch that. It’s one of the best films of all time. The layered structure of Alex Garland’s work allows the thrilling to meet the intellectual as two men and a robot collide in a battle of the wits. Unfolding twists and turns that slowly boil the tension, the film is an exquisite meld of themes and technological resonance. Isaac plays Nathan, the genius who creates an AI named Ava and the might of Nathan’s brain vanity is apparent in Isaac’s performance. As is the petulance, alcoholism, and general inflated ego that makes him a terrifying antagonist. Why? Because he is a prime example of men who can’t get what they want and chose nefarious methods to gain control.

Honourable Mention: He is the only good thing from Sucker Punch, he croons an amazing song for 10 Years,  and, of course, he’s Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens but I’m assuming that everyone on God’s Green Earth (or Jakku’s Red Desert) have seen the latest Star Wars movie.

Ooooo…there’s also The Two Faces of January! He’s pretty sweet in that! Damn, it’s hard to write about Oscar Isaac in just five entries….

What are your favourites?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.