Why Oscar Isaac Could Be the Next Paul Newman
Prior to this year, there was no question Oscar Isaac was talented; we just didn’t know how talented. This year, thanks to the Coen brothers, we found out.
In Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Isaac gives a revelatory turn (and one of the best performances of the year) as the titular, down on his luck folk artist, struggling to make a name for himself in the 1960s New York folk scene. Appearing in virtually every frame of the gorgeously lensed picture, Isaac is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, off-putting and relatable. Plus the guy can sing.
The Guatemalan-born, Julliard trained actor and singer-songwriter hadn’t been resting on his laurels before working with the Coens – far from it. Probably most recognizable as Carey Mulligan’s criminal husband in Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” Isaac has appeared in close to 25 films over the course of his career, collaborating with everyone from Ridley Scott (“Robin Hood”) to Madonna (“W.E.”).
Remarkably enough, “Inside Llewyn Davis” marks the first onscreen lead role for the 33-year-old actor. With a Golden Globe nomination for his performance now in the bag, we doubt it will be his last.
“There’s kind of a hierarchy in the business among talented actors; they recognize the work done by certain people, they learn from it,” Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham told Indiewire, when asked about getting to know his “Inside Llewyn Davis” co-star, Isaac. “It’s like they want to absorb what they can and learn what they can. That doesn’t happen too often with the kind of people who have the talent that he [Isaac] has. Because, as I discovered, he can not only act, but also, he’s a very good-looking man, so he has so much going for him. But that kind of arrogance that comes with that -- he has nothing to do with. I think that’s very rare.
“I saw the same thing in Paul Newman, who I knew slightly. He had all this going for him, and I never had the impression that he was a jerk. Ever. That’s how I feel about Oscar.”
The Perfect Role:
The Right Project:
Changing assessments reveal how the Coens canon is shifting.
Plus: The Coen Bros.' "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Charles Vidor's "Gilda" on Criterion.
The five upcoming releases are new digital transfers of recent and classic films.