Oscar Isaac's 10 Most Likable Characters | ScreenRant

Since his breakout performance in Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac has been a compelling force in dramatic movies. He can make even unscrupulous men (like William Tell in The Card Counter, or Abel Morales in A Most Violent Year) seem almost virtuous despite their bloody and sordid ways. But with the release of Dune (2021), Isaac has taken a step back from making evil men the heroes of their own stories and channeled his inherent gift for complexity into the altruistic character of Duke Leto Atreides, a lord who must trust fate -- and instinct -- in order to save his family.

RELATED: 10 Best Movies Like The Card Counter

When Isaac plays a hero, there's a shadow to their inner light that makes him infinitely more accessible to viewers, and he's often not cast as a perfect protagonist. From X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to medical student Mikael Boghosian in The Promise, there's always something a little rough around the edges about even his most valiant characters, but that's what makes them so likable.

10 Poe Dameron - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With his square jaw and ready grin, Poe Dameron, gallant flyboy for the Resistance in Disney's Sequel Trilogy, quickly established himself as a Star Wars hero for a new generation by borrowing some trademark gyle from the previous one. Dameron is a bad boy like Han Solo, after all, so a little sarcasm and a smirk come with his exceptional piloting skills.

He takes on the First Order with a swagger and hot-headedness that sometimes causes him to butt heads with General Leia Organa, but it's obvious she's still a role model for the X-wing pilot, and when Force Push comes to shove, he's all in when it comes to risking his life for the Resistance, the Republic, and his friends, Finn and Rey.

9 José Ramos-Horta - Balibo

For Balibo, the first feature-length movie shot in East Timor chronicling the events just prior to its Indonesian invasion in 1975, Isaac plays José Ramos-Horta as a young man, before his rise in politics and election to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister, and eventually, President. The war film focuses on the famous Balibo Five, journalists who were killed while reporting on the Indonesian occupation, and the legacy of those who hoped to spread their message afterward.

Isaac's soulful, righteous performance reveals to viewers why the real Ramos-Horta would one day not only ascend to East Timor's highest levels of office, but also why he would win the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.

8 Llewyn Davis - Inside Llewyn Davis

In the Coen Brothers' amazing music movie, Inside Llewyn DavisIsaac plays the titular struggling musician, who spends a week in Greenwich Village in 1961 searching for a comeback moment. As he tries to recapture the magic without the aid of his former music partner, he takes viewers on the emotional journey of a man standing still in, but desperate to keep up with, a world that keeps on spinning beyond him.

Llewyn Davis is a human hero (not without his idiosyncrasies) who fans are willing to root for as he navigates the changing landscape of New York City. It helps that Isaac is as effective as a musician as he is as an actor, and his performance is a perfect marriage of understated showmanship and theatricality, indicating his range as a budding artist in his breakout role.

7 Duke Leto Atreides - Dune

In Denis Villeneuve's highly anticipated Dune (2021) based on the sci-fi literary opus of the same name by Frank Herbert, Isaac plays Duke Leto Atreides, the father of Paul Atreides, who must weigh the prophetic purpose of his son against the burden of legacy, and let destiny decide the fate of their people on the inhospitable world of Arrakis.

RELATED: 10 Best Behind-The-Scenes Facts From Dune (2021)

Isaac wisely doesn't do another Robert Plant meets Richard Nixon interpretation of kingly grace like he so memorably provided for the role of King John in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. His Leto Atreides is all noble struggle and stately sacrifice. For a relatively small part in a sprawling ensemble cast, Isaac makes the duke stand out in a big way.

6 Mikael Boghosian - The Promise

Looking at Isaac's best roles, they're almost all morally grey reprobates, but in The Promisehe plays one of the most fundamentally altruistic characters of his career. As Mikael Boghosian, the young owner of an apothecary who gets the chance to study medicine in Constantinople, he meets an enchanting dance instructor traveling with an American journalist and sweeps her into a passionate romance.

If anyone could accurately convey the depth of emotions required to convincingly portray a medical student struggling to maintain a love affair amidst the Armenian Genocide and the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, it's Isaac, who turns the quiet nobility of the young healer into the foundation of an unlikely Byronic hero.

5 Peter Malkin - Operation Finale

As in Balibo, Isaac once again takes on a real historical figure in Operation Finale, this time embodying famous Mossad agent Peter Malkin. Malkin, tasked with tracking down the Nazi officer who oversaw the transportation logistics responsible for funneling millions of Jewish people to concentration camps in WWII, must also find a way to extradite him to a country where he can stand trial.

RELATED: Oscar Isaac’s 10 Most Memorable Movie Quotes of All Time

Isaac does a commendable job of playing a man utterly committed to highlighting the many different faces responsible for orchestrating the Holocaust by exposing a war criminal that may not be known to the public but deserves nothing less than to be crucified by it.

4 Bud Cooper - Suburbicon

Isaac may have less than 20 minutes of screen time in the Coen Brothers' dark comedy, Suburbiconbut he makes the most of them as Bud Cooper, an insurance investigator who becomes suspicious of the squeaky clean image put up by the Lodges, a suburban family whose members insist they're the victims of a home invasion.

As Cooper, Isaac is the sort of fast-talking, no-nonsense character that might have been a private eye in a film noir. In other words, he's the perfect man on the fringe of society's curtain, designated to peel back the veneer of pleasantness and reveal its underbelly of deceit, avarice, and racism. It's clear Isaac enjoys every moment of grilling the Lodges, and fans love to watch him do it.

3 Will Dempsey - Life Itself

Isaac isn't known for making many rom-coms, with Life Itself as close as it gets. He plays Will, who married his college sweetheart and is now expecting his first baby. Their lives become linked to a group of wildly different people living in Seville, Spain, and change irrevocably forever.

The narrative style of Life Itself shifts like the vagaries of existence, a labyrinthian series of unexpected twists and turns that let Isaac play around with a character that might have normally been one-dimensional, but didn't enamor the movie to critics. To say much more is to give away the complicated plot and spoil why his performance is so multi-layered, but rest assured, if viewed with open-mindedness, it might just restore faith in humanity.

2 Gomez Addams - The Addams Family

The Addams Family, the most recent feature-film adaptation of the classic comic strip created by Charles Addams, puts an animated spin on the macabre misadventures of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, Lurch, and of course, Thing, as they try to adjust to life in a quaint little town far away from the Old Country.

Lending his vocal talents to the role of Gomez, Isaac surrenders to his inner Casanova, making Gomez a somewhat hapless, love-crazed patriarch that more closely resembles the illustration created by Charles Addams in the '30s. Isaac may not be able to decide if he's from a Latin or Slavic country, but he's all the more lovable for it.

1 Miguel O'Hara / Spider-Man 2099 - Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Though he only appeared in a brief cameo at the end of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Versefans couldn't have been happier to see the sudden silhouette of Miguel O'Hara aka Spider-Man 2099, the half Irish, half Mexican web-slinging hero who's been a favorite since the '90s.

Isaac's O'Hara was able to sell the humor in the scene at the lab with Lyla by essentially embodying a well-known meme, not to mention lend credibility to the ever-burgeoning Spidey family introduced by the concept of the multiverse. No doubt it's not the last fans see of him!

NEXT: 5 Reasons Fans Are Excited For Dune (& Why They're Skeptical)



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