Oscar Isaac has become one of my favourite actors working today.
Here is a talented performer unafraid to take on a series of diverse and challenging roles - from down-at-heel folk singer to all out action hero, from sinister tech genius to small-time crook.
His impressive work thus far was recognised recently when he was asked to join the Academy Awards panel.
The future looks pretty good too. I am really looking forward to seeing Isaac in 2017's Suburbicon (directed by George Clooney and written by the Coen brothers), in Alex Garland’s next movie, Annihilation, and (of course!) in the next installment of the Star Wars franchise.
So, without further ado, here are my favourite Oscar Issac’s film roles to date:
5. The Two Faces Of January
Adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith, 2014 thriller The Two Faces Of January sees Isaac play Rydal Keener - a tour guide and small-time con-artist.
Rydal gets more than he bargained for when he befriends the charismatic Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his alluring wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst). The friendship soon becomes a dangerous love triangle full of envy, obsession and murder.
Isaac is brilliant in a role that could, in lesser hands, have been rather bland. He has great onscreen chemistry with Dunst and just conveys so much in a single, intense glare.
“I met with a lot of actors but I just kept thinking, ‘God, Oscar would be perfect,’” director Hossein Amini explains. “Luckily, the Coens hired him first, making it much easier for us to cast him. I think he’s an extraordinary actor. There’s a softness he has. When you have close-ups of his eyes, you see real innocence and vulnerability.”
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It is hard to imagine how Oscar Isaac felt when preparing for his role as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Dameron is pretty much Hans Solo 2.0. No pressure, then.
While Isaac is not on screen for much of this film, his presence is certainly felt. He plays Poe perfectly and the potential for this character is exciting indeed.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen brother’s 2013 film, Inside Llewyn Davis, really gave Oscar Isaac the chance to shine. Isaac plays Llewyn Davis - a self-obsessed young singer navigating his way around the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.
Isaac is just superb in this movie. Davis is not always particularly likeable - but he is always engaging. Meanwhile, Isaac sings and plays the guitar so beautifully - I bought the soundtrack as soon as I’d finished watching the film!
2. A Most Violent Year
In J.C. Chandor’s film, A Most Violent Year, Isaac plays Abel Morales. Morales is an immigrant living in New York during the winter of 1981 - statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history.
Along with his mob-connected wife Anna (a brilliant Jessica Chastain) Abel is determined to succeed in his business despite the political and industrial corruption that plague him at every turn.
Isaac’s performance is utterly gripping and he portrays Abel’s frustration and desperation brilliantly.
1. Ex Machina
Alex Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina, sees Isaac as Nathan Bateman, a brilliant and reclusive tech company CEO.
Nathan runs a company competition - the top prize being the chance to spend a week with him in his gorgeous, private mountain estate.
However, Nathan has unsettling plans for his competition winner - programmer, Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson). Smith is to be the human component in a Turing test. He will be asked to evaluate the capabilities and, ultimately, the consciousness of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence - Ava (Alicia Vikander).
Isaac is barely recognisable in this role. His is a wonderful, scene stealingly sinister performance - one full of tension, paranoia and barely suppressed threat.
Over To You...
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