Oscar Isaac might finally break through with the Academy in 2017

It seems like every year there’s a reason to revisit Oscar Isaac and the work that he’s done so far. This year, he may actually get that elusive first Academy Award nomination if things break the right way, but regardless of that, he remains an incredibly exciting actor. Oscar wise (no pun intended), he seems likeliest to contend with George Clooney’s directorial outing Suburbicon, though he also will be seen in a few days in what previously was seen as an awards player in The Promise. Throw in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and he’s an in demand actor, to say the least. As such, another repeat tribute to the man is certainly in order. Isaac deserves it, that’s for sure.

This is how I would rank his ten best performances so far:

10. Robin Hood
9. The Two Faces of January
8. In Secret
7. Mojave
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
5. Drive
4. Ex Machina
3. 10 Years
2. A Most Violent Year
1. Inside Llewyn Davis

Honorable Mentions: Show Me A Hero (TV Miniseries, which if eligible wold be his second best work to date)

Here’s a slightly tinkered bit from a past piece on Isaac:

“A couple of years ago, he was heavily in the running for an Academy Award nomination with A Most Violent Year. In fact, he received the Best Actor prize from the National Board of Review for his work in J.C. Chandor’s crime drama. There he played an immigrant businessman determined to climb the ladder of success and live the American Dream. He had a strict code and is relentless in his need to stick to that code, even while those around him stray from the path. It’s an often quiet performance from Isaac, but it’s an incredible one, nonetheless. It was perhaps a bit too subtle for the Academy, but that was a shame.

Before that snub, of course, he was also robbed of a Best Actor nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis, his best performance to date in my eyes. Playing a folk artist in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1961 for the Coen Brothers, he blew me away with his talent. Singing a number of heartbreaking songs in addition to essaying a complicated character who’s on screen for basically every frame of the film, it was a crime that Oscar wasn’t Oscar nominated, as it were. He gave the best performance of 2013 on the whole, if you ask me. No one even came close. If nothing else, this is the purest example of the range that Isaac has. It should show that he can do anything.

Two years ago, along with his strong supporting turn in Ex Machina, he was seen as one of the main new cast members in Episode VII of the Star Wars franchise, namely Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to be precise. Isaac played hot shot rebel pilot Poe Dameron there, giving him a shot at helping to anchor a blockbuster, much like he’s doing this week. He was be under the direction of J.J. Abrams there, with a large ensemble cast of veterans and newcomers to keep the focus from solely being on him. A similar case is with the latest X-Men movie, just with Bryan Singer at the helm. In both cases, it is something new from him and his presence is a definite factor in my excitement for this new sequel. Star Wars clearly doesn’t need Isaac and his help, and neither did X-Men, but as a film franchise, they’ll no doubt be better off for having him involved, that much is a given, even if the latter wasn’t at the top of its game.”

Basically, he is fully capable of dominating Hollywood and winning Academy Awards in the process. He’s already been a part of blockbusters, with X-Men: Apocalypse just the most recent one, while his first Oscar nomination is only a matter of time away. It’s a question of when, not if, in that regard. Isaac is a special talent, one who makes interesting decisions and is constantly subverting expectations. That’s what you expect from a star, so I’m thrilled that he’s becoming the A-lister that he deserves to be. Sit tight for more on him over the course of 2017, not just with The Promise this week, but with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Suburbicon as well. Presumably he’ll be contending for awards with these various projects, so he won’t lack for coverage. He’s as busy as ever, and that’s an extremely exciting prospect…

Stay tuned for more on The Promise this week and on Isaac as the year carries on!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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