One small silver lining about these times of mandatory social distancing and isolation? You can finally start peeling away at that backlog of movies and television that you’ve been meaning to watch.
In this edition of Bingeworthy, we’ve put together a selection of films and television from the filmography of the incredibly talented actor, Oscar Isaac. Isaac’s range on the big screen is impressive, to say the least, as he seamlessly manages to blend into each and every role that he takes on. And his feet aren’t firmly planted in one genre, either, as he’s capable of pulling off just about anything that’s thrown at him: action, sci-fi, adventure, history, crime, drama, romance, comedy, you name it!
Inside Llewyn Davis
This is arguably the top must-watch Oscar Isaac film, if there is one. Written and directed by the Coen brothers, the Oscar-nominated Inside Llewyn Davis explores a week in the life of a young folk singer, Llewyn, whilst he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961, and it’s loosely based on folk icon Dave Von Ronk. The film does not tell an invigorating, happy tale, but rather explores a brooding musician and the struggles he faces in life and his career. Despite the bleakness of it all, it’s a beautifully told story. Isaac’s portrayal of Llewyn is magnificent, and he’s given a chance to put his musical talents on full display during multiple performances throughout the movie (you’ll want the soundtrack after, trust me). To top it all off, it’s jam-packed with an all-star cast that includes the likes of Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, John Goodman, and more.
Show Me a Hero
Television roles are scarce in Isaac’s filmography, but his leading role in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero is the perfect binge for those looking for a mix of drama and history. Show Me a Hero (based on the nonfiction book of the same name) takes place between 1987-1994, and it focuses on the public housing crisis that occurred in Yonkers, New York. Isaac portrays Mayor Nick Wasicsko, a man who certainly has his work cut out for him when he takes office in 1987 while the city is divided by strife over an order for public housing to be built in the white, middle class side of town. Isaac’s portrayal of the Mayor’s outward and inward struggles that threaten to pull him under are raw, honest, and unforgettable.
The series explores the politics and racism that ran rampant due to the federal mandate, and it tells a well-rounded tale as the episodes focus not only on what went on in the city council and the courts, but they also provide an in-depth and intimate look at the lives of individuals and families affected by the events that took place.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
No Oscar Isaac binge is complete without throwing some Star Wars into the mix. Isaac skyrocketed to a new level of fame when he joined this film universe from a galaxy far, far away for the sequel trilogy, portraying a member of the new trio that led the Skywalker Saga for its final three films. Poe Dameron, a skilled, headstrong Resistance pilot, is undoubtedly a fan favorite character; it’s difficult to imagine anyone but Isaac in the role. Though the entire sequel trilogy is a justifiable binge in itself, The Last Jedi is my personal recommendation if you only have time for one. Poe is in his prime in this film, entirely on-brand with his attitude and antics from beginning to end — and for those left reeling after some particularly disastrous decisions made by the pilot, the novel Resistance Reborn provides an excellent follow-up.
Everyone needs to experience the magic that is Oscar Isaac starring in a historical romantic drama. Though the story isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, The Promise is a painfully beautiful film set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Isaac is a young Armenian named Mikael, a man caught in a love triangle opposite Christian Bale’s Chris, an American photographer, for the affections of an Armenian woman named Ana (Charlotte Le Bon). Romantic tension flourishes amidst the dark horrors of war in this gripping movie, and Isaac carries the film flawlessly as viewers watch through the lens of the struggles and heartbreak his character endures.
A Most Violent Year
This crime drama is a harrowing tale that takes place during the winter of 1981 in New York City, one of the most violent years in the city’s history. Isaac is Abel Morales, an ambitious immigrant that owns an up-and-coming heating-oil company, and Jessica Chastain is Anna, his wife. Abel finds himself stretched thin as he tries to keep his business afloat among the competitiveness in the oil trade, fights to secure costly loans for expansion, and is forced to make tough decisions as the safety of his drivers is put in jeopardy when his trucks start being hijacked. Isaac’s portrayal of Abel in A Most Violent Year is a strong and surefooted performance that should not be missed.
- 10 Years (shout out to those that still haven’t recovered from Isaac’s on screen performance of the song “Never Had”)
- Ex Machina (It’s Poe, it’s Hux!)
- Triple Frontier (Isaac and his real-life pal Pedro Pascal team up with some other notable characters for a heist mission … need I say more?)
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the amazing roles Isaac has held over the years, so when you’ve managed to work your way through those listed above … make sure to dig deeper and check out everything else this seasoned actor has to offer. And don’t miss out on his portrayal of Duke Leto Atreides in the latest film adaption of Dune, which is set to premiere on December 18.