What are the best Oscar Isaac movies? Within the last decade, Oscar Isaac has shot to stardom and is now one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood. The actor, of Cuban and Guatemalan descent, had his first big break in the thriller movie Drive, in a supporting role opposite Ryan Gosling, and hasn't looked back since.
Now, Isaac has a number of leading roles under his belt and has played a part in some of the biggest franchise movies around, including Star Wars and Dune. However, the actor has also given some of his best performances in smaller, independent movies, where he is really allowed the freedom to flex his dramatic chops.
But, which Oscar Isaac movie is the best? We took a look back at his explosive rise to fame and picked out the best Oscar Isaac movies. Some of these see the actor front and centre, whereas others may have him sharing the spotlight, but either way, all these movies are brilliant, and Oscar Isaac is predictably fantastic every time he's on screen.
What are the best Oscar Isaac movies?
- Ex Machina
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Inside Llewyn Davis
- A Most Violent Year
- Sucker Punch
Ex Machina (2014)
Alex Garland is a renowned author, famous for writing The Beach which was adapted into a 2000s movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But, when Garland took to the director’s chair for the first time with science fiction movie Ex Machina, he proved that he not only has a way with words, but also a real cinematic prowess, too.
Oscar Isaac stars opposite Domhnall Gleeson in this A24 movie, as the pair embark on a battle of the brains during a tense and dangerous Turing Test to examine the capabilities of Alicia Vikander’s alluring AI robot, Ava. Isaac is mesmerising as the destructive tech-genius Nathan, from boozy dance-offs to heated philosophical debates about the future of humanity.
For me, Ex Machina is one of the best films of the 21st Century. A poignant, thought-provoking, scintillating thriller movie that perfectly captures the paranoia and ambitions of our world today when it comes to artificial intelligence.
This movie was the first time I saw Oscar Isaac in action, and even though his role in Drive is limited, his impact is huge. Even before he is introduced in person, the imposing reputation of Standard Gabriel looms over Ryan Gosling’s nameless driver and Carey Mulligan’s Irene and threatens to unravel their fledgling relationship.
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Oscar Isaac plays the desperate scoundrel brilliantly in this Ryan Gosling movie, in a role that is very different to the others on this list. From the moment he asserts his dominance at the dinner table with a story of he and Irene’s first encounter, to his eventual demise, Isaac is captivating, and injects an oddly endearing quality to a criminal character.
The movie itself, is utterly riveting, with masterful technical elements such as an electric score and beautiful cinematography, and the story is navigated expertly with very minimal dialogue. You can currently watch Drive with a subscription to Prime Video.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
There was always going to be at least one Star Wars movie on this list, with Oscar Isaac being a real highlight of the sequel trilogy in his role as the charming Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron. We decided to go for The Force Awakens for this list, as this is the chapter of the Star Wars timeline that offers Isaac the more exciting moments, but he is equally as great to watch in the follow-up, The Last Jedi.
It’s fascinating that the original plan was to kill off Poe Dameron in the first movie, and it’s clear to see when this moment would have happened, too. Dameron does disappear for a little while, after crash landing into the sands of Jakku in a ball of flames, but he returns triumphantly to help save the day later on.
Clearly, Disney recognised Oscar Isaac’s star quality, and decided to let his Star Wars character live, which we are very grateful for!
From such humble beginnings, Oscar Isaac is absolutely making bank now, with not one, but two major franchises under his belt. Most recently, Isaac starred in Denis Villeneuve’s remake of Dune, playing Duke Leo Atreides, AKA Timothée Chalamet’s daddy.
Dune is an adaptation of the famous Frank Herbert epic novels, with the movie being split into a two-part story, with the first half released last year. On the desert planet of Arrakis, the members of House Atreides are given rule of the sands, but corruption and deceit ensue, and Chalamet’s Paul Atreides must fulfil his destiny to end the war.
We would happily include this movie on the list simply for the fact that it allows Isaac to realise his maximum beard potential, but Dune is, of course, a fantastic space age action movie, too. Glorious set pieces, jaw-dropping cinematography, and an intriguing story, make Dune one of the best movies of 2021.
The brilliant working partnership between writer-director Alex Garland and Oscar Isaac bore fruit once again with Garland’s sophomore directorial effort, Annihilation. While sticking to his sci-fi roots, Garland also introduces genuine horror movie moments with this eerie, surrealist genre piece.
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An all-star, female-dominated cast including MCU actors Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson venture into a mysterious phenomenon called the ‘Shimmer’, to investigate the bizarre circumstances surrounding the deteriorating health of Kane (Isaac). A twisted and contemplative journey ultimately leads to a spine-chilling encounter with an uncanny presence and a highly ambiguous ending.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Not only is Oscar Isaac a fantastic actor, but he also has one hell of a singing voice, too. With the Coen Brothers’ musical movie Inside Llewyn Davis, Isaac was given a huge opportunity to show what he can do in a leading role, and he absolutely made the most of that chance.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a melancholic depiction of one man’s pursuit of success and recognition in the music industry, while the whole world seemingly throws everything possible in his path to keep him down. Oscar Isaac stars in the titular role, with a supporting cast including Adam Driver, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman.
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Oscar Isaac oozes charm and mafioso energy in A24’s gritty crime drama movie A Most Violent Year, as businessman Abel Morales. Amid a tense battle to control the oil trade in New York, Morales is forced into desperate measures to protect his business, while also evading the law and navigating his tempestuous marriage.
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Directed by J. C. Chandor, who will be taking the reigns for the upcoming Kraven the Hunter movie, A Most Violent Year was widely praised by critics, but sadly bombed at the box-office. This is a slow-burning period piece, which puts Oscar Isaac front and centre in a role that really allows him to display his exceptional range as an actor.
Sucker Punch (2011)
Admittedly, this is a bit of a wildcard entry to this list, and as with many Zack Snyder movies, Sucker Punch isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 22%, you’d be forgiven for thinking this fantasy movie is irredeemably terrible, but there’s actually a lot to love here.
With epic action scenes, a rather powerful message at its heart, and Oscar Isaac sporting an exceptional moustache, Sucker Punch truly does have everything you could ever need.
You can now see Oscar Isaac in action as he joins the MCU timeline in the Marvel Phase 4 TV series Moon Knight, which is available on Disney Plus. If you want to check out more actors and their best movies, take a look at our list of the best Ethan Hawke movies.
If you’re looking for something new to watch we’ve got a guide breaking down the best new movies 2023 has to offer.