A Look at Oscar Isaac’s 5 Best Performances

Lead Photo: Oscar Isaac attends the red carpet of the movie "Scenes From a Marriage (Ep. 1 and 2)" during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 04, 2021 in Venice, Italy. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Oscar Isaac attends the red carpet of the movie "Scenes From a Marriage (Ep. 1 and 2)" during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 04, 2021 in Venice, Italy. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images
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Happy birthday, Oscar Isaac! The Guatemalan-Cuban-American actor celebrates his 42nd year on the planet and although he doesn’t have much of a social media presence these days, it didn’t stop fans from wishing him well on his special day.

There’s even a Twitter account called “Is Today Oscar Isaac’s Birthday?” The account’s sole purpose on the social media platform is to make users aware when it’s…wait for it…Oscar Isaac’s birthday. Today was a busy day for them.

Isaac was born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on March 9, 1979 to a Guatemalan mother and Cuban father. His family moved to the United States when Isaac was only five months old, and he was raised in Miami, Florida.

In 1996, Isaac made his film debut in the crime-drama Illtown, which starred Michael Rapaport (True Romance) and Lili Taylor (The Conjuring). Since then, Isaac has starred in a handful of high-profile films, including The Bourne Legacy, X-Men: Apocalypse, Annihilation and three Star Wars movies.

This year, he will be seen playing Duke Leto Atreides in filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s remake of Dune. He’s also recently made headlines for being cast to play The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola in the film Francis and the Godfather, and for joining the Marvel Universe in the upcoming TV series Moon Knight. With all that success, he better be getting a big cake today.

Below, we’ve compiled Isaac’s five best performances of his career. Before Star Wars fans flip out that The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi or The Rise of the Skywalker are not on this list, we just want to remind people that Isaac killed the screen before joining the Star Wars franchise.

'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Oscar-winning director Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) cast Isaac to play the title character, Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer in the early 1960s who is trying to find success and keep his life from spiraling out of control. The role earned Isaac a Best Actor award from the National Society of Film Critics and countless nominations, including one from the Golden Globes.

'A Most Violent Year'

Isaac replaced Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) in the role as Abel Morales, the owner of a heating oil business in the early 1980s who must confront an industry trying to bury him financially. The role earned Isaac a Best Actor win with the National Board of Review (tied with Michael Keaton for Birdman) and numerous nominations.

Ex Machina

In 2014, Isaac starred in the science-fiction thriller as a reclusive CEO named Nathan Bateman, who builds a female humanoid robot with artificial intelligence. Along with his incredible performance, the film is known for Isaac’s dance sequence to “Get Down Saturday Night” with one of his robots. For his role, Isaac won Best Actor with the Online Film Critics Society and received many nominations for what he saw as a character as mysterious and intelligent as chess icon Bobby Fischer and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

'Show Me a Hero'

Isaac won his first Golden Globe Award in 2015 for his role in the TV miniseries Show Me a Hero. In the HBO drama, he portrayed Nick Wasicsko, a former police officer and city council member who became the youngest big-city mayor in the nation when he won the seat to lead the city of Yonkers, New York, in the late 1980s. During his time as mayor, Wasicsko fought to desegregate housing in the city. He committed suicide in 1993 at the age of 34.


Although not as big of a role as the others on this list, Isaac was a standout in director Nicolas Winding Refn’s action-drama where he played Standard Gabriel. The supporting character is an ex-con who returns home where an Albanian gangster is demanding he repay him money he owes, or he will hurt his family. In one scene, Gabriel confronts Ryan Gosling’s unnamed “Driver” character who has been helping Gabriel’s wife Irene (Carey Mulligan) while he was locked up.