Casting the rakish, keen Isaac as a Han Solo determine within the newest Star Wars cycle appeared an ideal concept on paper. Within the first of his outings, the character was skinny however animated by his sturdy labrador charisma; he seemed nice in pilot gear, and his faintly queer chemistry with co-star John Boyega was promising. The script by some means made him much less attention-grabbing with every iteration, however that’s not Isaac’s fault.
George Clooney’s muddled anti-racism farce acquired a vital pasting when it got here out (and swiftly vanished) in 2017. I’m not about to launch a defence of it, however Isaac is its brightest spot. As a slick, canny insurance coverage agent with simple patter and a natty moustache, he enters early, briefly quickens proceedings with a way of wit and hazard, and is killed off all too rapidly. Let the movie’s subsequent failure be a lesson to us all.
In 2009, method earlier than he reached family title standing, Isaac gained an Australian Movie Institute award for this earnest, compelling factual drama about journalistic derring-do in East Timor. As the longer term East Timor president and Nobel laureate José Ramos-Horta, he’s instantly hanging, filling out what could possibly be an ordinary, noble biopic flip with bristly movie-star swagger.
7. Dune (2021)
Folks can hold debating the deserves of director Denis Villeneuve extending his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi doorstop throughout (hopefully) two sprawling movies, however the truth that this supersizing provides us extra time with Isaac’s bearishly paternal, regally bearded Duke Leto Atreides is a transparent win. He provides this probably dour endeavor a touch of intercourse to go together with his gravitas; as his onscreen son, Timothée Chalamet is just a little overpowered.
Ryan Gosling’s brooding, satin-jacketed getaway driver might have been the main target, however Nicolas Winding Refn’s attractive, grisly heist thriller was a breakthrough for Isaac, alerting informal moviegoers to his cool, faintly nasty electrical energy on display. As Carey Mulligan’s no-good ex-con husband, he once more suffered an early exit, although lingered within the reminiscence.
Coming quickly to UK cinemas, Paul Schrader’s unusual, simmering underworld temper piece is essentially the most devoted showcase Isaac has had in a number of years, and he makes essentially the most of it. Enjoying a lone-wolf gambler as slippery as his over-creamed hair, he’s aloof and elusive however by no means loses our curiosity. There’s at all times one thing clicking away behind that cool gaze, and he sparks to kinda-love curiosity Tiffany Haddish in methods you wouldn’t count on.
Massively underrated when it got here out in 2014, this cool, knotty Patricia Highsmith adaptation underlined simply how completely tailor-made Isaac’s smoky, withholding manner is for movie noir. Director Hossein Amini had beforehand written Drive, and he knew precisely how you can use Isaac as a smooth-talking vacationer information and rip-off artist, assembly his match in Viggo Mortensen’s shady American overseas.
Are mad scientists alleged to be this horny? Sure, within the case of Alex Garland’s artificial-intelligence chamber piece, which hinges on the extremely seductive method Isaac’s reclusive web CEO sells his Frankenstein-esque experiments in robotics. His flip is a daunting, brilliantly humorous satire of tech-bro alpha posturing – capped off with a disco-dancing scene that launched 1,000,000 gifs.
Maybe in the future Isaac will excel at taking part in an extraordinary upstanding citizen, however not but: he simply wears seamy volatility like a bespoke sharkskin go well with. Nonetheless, there’s a misdirected undertow of decency to his efficiency because the immigrant New York businessman Abel Morales, drawn into gangsterism to guard his firm and household. Isaac rivetingly balances small-time Scarface grandstanding with ethical finesse.
After years of subsequent massive factor whispers, Isaac lastly earned nice actor standing – plus an armful of critics’ awards – together with his beautiful portrayal of a younger folks singer battling poverty, insecurity and the winter freeze within the Coen brothers’ pretty, elegiac snapshot of the early-60s Greenwich Village music scene. The Academy, clueless as ever, didn’t even nominate him. Extra idiot them, because it’s a efficiency for the ages: tenderly susceptible beneath his wry, prickly posing, and exhibiting off dreamy pipes as well.