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Oscar Isaac Is the Real Best Actor of 2015

Oscar Isaac Is the Real Best Actor of 2015

TribecaFilm website has published an article talking about Oscar and his amazing performance at Show Me a Hero. It worth the reading!

Check some excerpts:

Every single one of these actors has achieved performances that should be continued topics of conversation among the Academy. But none of them have cut even nearly as deep as Oscar Isaac in Show Me a Hero, which is a wondrous and walloping characterization that ranks among the very finest performances in contemporary film…except that it aired on television.

HBO’s miniseries Show Me a Hero recounts a gripping episode of real-life communal schism, in which government-mandated efforts to build affordable public housing in 1980s Yonkers were met with resistance by the neighborhood’s predominantly white, middle-class residents. Equal parts historical docudrama, institutional survey, and Shakespearean tragedy, Show Me a Hero features one of the year’s absolute best ensembles, crammed with easily-recognizable veteran character actors plenty of fresh newcomers of color.

At the epicenter of the storm is Oscar Isaac, who over the course of Hero’s six exhilarating episodes solidified himself once and for all as the most fascinating actor of his generation. In Isaac’s skin, Nick Wasicsko is indeed an ambitious, committed, and charismatic political venturer, a proud and poised hometown boy done good. But there’s always a trace of unnerving desperation, a distinctive sense of unease that’s gradually chipping away at his confident surface from as early as the first episode. As Nick’s fall from grace only grows steeper, Isaac strips away layer upon layer of Nick’s outward cool, revealing a much more profound portrait of a man trying and failing to cover his torment and keep a level head. Much of this is due to Isaac’s skillful physical embodiment, which traces a character arc all on its own, from early, cock-of-the-walk pride to fidgety, slump-shouldered shame.

In short, this series needs Isaac, who has a preternatural yet underutilized ability to feel his characters’ inner anguish and then make us feel it through some sort of invisibly electric connective tissue between actor and audience. Isaac can take a question as potentially and impossibly treacly as “If I’m not the mayor of Yonkers, will you still love me?” and turn it into the most heartbreaking line reading of the year by simply saying it with uncommonly abundant sincerity.

Between Show Me a Hero, Ex Machina, the 2015 Tribeca selection Mojave, and that underdog little indie Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it has been a banner year for Isaac. I’d hand him six Oscars and at least as many Emmys on the sole basis of Show Me a Hero, an illuminating, involving, and ever-timely chronicle that I cannot possibly encourage more people to take a chance on, if only to experience an essential performance from an actor whose work we’ll certainly be talking about for decades to come.

Make sure to read the whole article at tribecafilm.com

Jessica Chastain gets ‘Violent’ with college pal Oscar Isaac

Jessica Chastain gets ‘Violent’ with college pal Oscar Isaac

StarTribune.com — Declaring Jessica Chastain the “young Meryl Streep” makes for a catchy sound bite, but there is really no need to equate her with anyone else. She stands on her own through her nonstop work with major filmmakers and indie newcomers alike.

She’s been an Oscar nominee as an endearing Marilyn Monroe look-alike in “The Help,” and as a grim CIA agent hunting Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Her latest, “A Most Violent Year,” is a dark drama of family and business set in New York at the beginning of the 1980s. Chastain plays the daughter of a Brooklyn gangster, moving toward a higher social and economic position by keeping the books of a heating oil company owned by her husband. He’s played by Oscar Isaac, Chastain’s pal since they were acting students at Juilliard.

Just as Chastain has flickered between science fiction, period crime tales and romance, Isaac has played a Russian security guard, a secret agent, the king of England in “Robin Hood” and a 1960s folk singer in Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

“We went to college together, so maybe that’s why we’re similar,” she said in a recent phone conversation. “That’s where I first saw his work and he first saw my work, and we’ve remained friends for 12 years. And I’ve always thought we ought to work together.”

Playing a cadaver

Isaac was the first of the two to score a major role, in “PU-293,” a 2006 film about the Russian black market for plutonium. Directed by longtime screenwriter and Minneapolis native Scott Z. Burns, it went to HBO rather than theatrical release, but Isaac and Chastain celebrated it with a private screening at Burns’ house in Los Angeles.

“The three of us went upstairs, and they grabbed guitars and I grabbed a triangle or something, and we all started playing music,” she said.

Chastain was thrilled for Isaac “because he’s such a wonderful actor, but at the time I was thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I want to work, too.’ ”

It didn’t happen instantly. In her early years, the biggest role she got was playing a cadaver in a TV pilot.

“The character I played had a couple lines and then she gets killed,” Chastain said. “The whole episode is about basically my corpse. After we had shot it, we needed to reshoot some things. So they brought me back just to lie there as a corpse.

“I remember it was San Francisco, it was raining, it was cold, and I’m lying on the ground, a dead person. And I’m thinking, ‘Wow, this is the life.’ ”

 

‘The Debt’ pays off

By 2010, though, she had a premiere of her own for Isaac to attend. “The Debt,” her first major film, was a thriller in which she played a Mossad agent hunting a Nazi surgeon in 1965 East Germany. She learned German and Israeli accents, took intense Krav Maga fight training for four months and studied medical experiments to prepare for the role.

“We’ve been very good friends; he’s just wonderful,” she said of Isaac. “He showed me his audition for the Coen brothers film on his iPhone over Thai food.”

Working with him is a gift, and not just because of their friendship, she said. “When I watch a performance he’s giving, he just makes me want to be better. And I knew that working with him would bring out the best in me. Because it really forces me to be present.”

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Oscar Isaac On His ‘Powerful, Flawed’ Latino Character In ‘A Most Violent Year’

HuffingtonPost.com — At the height of his struggle to survive in the lucrative but cutthroat heating oil industry during the most violent year in New York City history, Abel Morales exclaims: “I’ve spent my whole life trying not to become a gangster.”

Morales, the lead character in J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year,” is a Latino immigrant who makes the comment as his family life and business spiral out of control. Oscar Isaac, 35, (“Inside Llewyn Davis) portrays the righteous Morales, who faces the dark side of the American dream as his moral compass is set against his own ambition.

The Guatemalan-born, Miami-raised Isaac has been busy with a diverse array of roles, including X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” a young artificial intelligence programmer in Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina,” and a powerful villain in “X-Men: Apocalypse.” “A Most Violent Year” is the first to hit theaters, with a nationwide release on Friday.

Isaac spoke with The Huffington Post this week about the importance of portraying emotionally complex Latinos on the big screen and how he thinks “Star Wars” fans will react to J.J. Abrams’ upcoming installment of the franchise.

“A Most Violent Year” starts without much context on the characters or what’s going on. For most of the film, I couldn’t really figure out if Abel was as righteous as he pretended to be or not. What are your thoughts on Abel? Is he truly the same man he sets out to be in the beginning?

I kind of don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s the kind of movie where you bring a lot to it as an audience member. In a way, I don’t want to limit it by interpretation of it. I think, that’s exactly the right question. That means I think the movie succeeded for you because that’s exactly what the whole movie is about. It’s about how do you navigate this system, this capitalist system. We’re all told, ‘In this country you gotta hustle to make it.’ So there’s hustling, cutting corners, doing things the other guy, your competitor, won’t do. And what you’re trying to do is navigate this crazy train particularly in a troubled time in New York’s history — it was one of most violent years on record. So he does have this sickening ethical dilemma, where he wants to do things in certain way. He doesn’t want to be seen as a gangster, but I think that you’re right to question whether it’s really a moral thing or whether it’s actually just pragmatic.

I also spoke with J.C. Chandor, who directed and wrote the film, about Abel and his American dream. He mentioned that Abel made it a point to “sand away” his heritage to achieve his dream. He perfected his accent and changed his clothes, for example.

That’s an interesting thing. I remember J.C. told me that with Henry Ford’s workers, one of the things that they would do is they would come in their Sunday’s finest, which was their ethnic clothes. They would come into this little melting pot and they would come out with a suit. And it was a way of [saying], ‘And now you are an American.’ You wear a suit and you go after the American dream.

I think it’s a very good thing and it’s a modern thing that we try now to incorporate our culture. We try to make that just as much a part of America, as opposed to totally hiding it or denying it or turning your back on it.

On that note, I recently saw in your interview with Vogue UK that you changed your last name from Hernández to Isaac because you wanted to avoid being typecast in stereotypical roles?

That was my given name: Oscar Isaac Hernández. I felt that was little long for the marquee. [laughs] In Miami, that is an incredibly common name, Oscar Hernández. There are like 10 pages of Oscar Hernándezs in the phone book. And I was starting off in theater, there were actually a couple of other Oscars auditioning for parts as well. That was more of a differentiation from the people that were down there.

At the same time, in Miami starting out it is difficult. You do get cast if you’re a Latin man, because you look a certain way. Casting directors, often — it’s easy just to see people of a certain ethnicity as just one thing. For me it was important to be an actor, first and foremost. To me it was the most important thing, I wanted to be able to play anybody, and where I’m actually from to be secondary.

There’s actually been a lot of contention in recent weeks in terms of diversity in Hollywood, and it was triggered by the fact that no actors of color were nominated for an Oscar this year. What are your thoughts on the subject?

As far as awards distribution and why people get some and why they don’t — for me, it’s just not something that I’m interested in pontificating about. I don’t really know or how you rectify that, other than people that make movies should make more of them. That’s one of the things that I loved about what J.C. did with this film, which is he made his hero an American of Latin American descent who is completely idiosyncratic, who is not a cliche, whose identity although much made up of where he comes from is just as much made up of who he is emotionally and psychologically and spiritually. The fact that he presented a Latin man not as a gangster, not as a sidekick, not as a villain, but as a powerful, flawed individual — that’s a great thing. That helps audiences look at Latinos as more than just one thing.

And switching gears completely, congratulations are in order. You’re going to have a huge role in the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse” and you’ll be playing an X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Thank you.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the new “Star Wars” film. You’ve said you’ve “signed your organs away” and aren’t allowed to reveal any details.

[laughs] Yeah, I can’t.

So I won’t ask you details about the movie, but I will ask you one thing: The last three films weren’t received with as much fervor as the first three. So is “The Force Awakens” a movie that fans of the original 1980s trilogy will be happy with?

Abso-frickin-lutely. Without question. I think particularly fans of the universe will just be in ecstasy. But I think that even people that haven’t — there are believe it or not still people that haven’t seen or are not fans. I think this will win a lot of new fans. I just think it’s been done with such love, such energy, that it’ll be really compelling for everybody.

‘I still ride the subway’: Rising film star Oscar Isaac

NYPost.com — In October 2013, Jessica Chastain posted the trailer for “Inside Llewyn Davis” to her Facebook. “Yay Oscar Isaac!!!” she wrote. “When he was in the running for this film, we had dinner and he showed me his first taped audition. It blew me away, just like this trailer does . . . Can someone please put us in a film together?”

A little over a year later, the stars have aligned. Isaac leads this Wednesday’s crime drama “A Most Violent Year” as an immigrant oil man who longs to do business the right way, despite the unethical world around him in 1981 Brooklyn. Chastain plays his morally ambiguous spitfire of a wife.

“This country tells us hustle, hustle, hustle — ambition, man,” Isaac tells The Post. “But the [notion] that that doesn’t happen at a cost, that’s a lie.”

Born in Guatemala, Isaac grew up in Miami before moving to New York to attend Juilliard -— where he met Chastain — in 2001. “We were kind of nerds, that’s why we get along so well,” he says with a laugh.
Isaac had early roles in “10 Years” opposite Channing Tatum and “Drive” with Ryan Gosling. But it was the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” that ignited the red-hot run he’s on now.

Next December, Isaac will star in pretty much the most anticipated movie of the decade — “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — as an X-wing pilot of whom very little else is known. Isaac’s lips are sealed, of course, but he does say he felt like a badass flying the X-wing. “That’s a capital YES,” he says. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also set to play the titular villain in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” out in 2016. “I was a big fan of Apocalypse growing up, I really was. He’s going to bring the X-Men down to their knees,” he says.

Even with the blockbusters coming his way, the Greenpoint resident says life hasn’t changed too much.
“More opportunity for work — that’s definitely there. And sure, I run into other actors and directors that I haven’t met that are aware of me. That’s a nice thing. But there hasn’t been some sort of major shift as far as my day-to-day life,” he says. “I still ride the subway.”

Oscar Isaac Talks About Pragmatism, Morality and Putting Yourself On the Line in A MOST VIOLENT YEAR and Beyond

Oscar Isaac Talks About Pragmatism, Morality and Putting Yourself On the Line in A MOST VIOLENT YEAR and Beyond

IndieWire.com — Oscar Isaac is perhaps one of the most exciting men in film right now. After showcasing both his singing and acting chops in Inside Llewyn Davis, he’s since landed roles in Mojave opposite Mark Wahlberg and Garrett Hedlund, Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse and then of course that tiny movie no one is excited about: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But meanwhile Isaac has also been making quieter, if not more in-depth movies. J.C. Chandor’s (All is Lost) A Most Violent Year showcases Isaac in the title role, playing Abel, an ambitious businessman in 1981 New York City. Jessica Chastain, with whom Isaac attended Juilliard years back, plays his wife Anna, the daughter of a gangster and the Bonnie to Abel’s Clyde. Isaac plays Abel with a precision far different than messy Llewyn who loved cats and twiddled on his guitar. Abel is pristine, determined, and elusive in his motivations.

Press Play had a chance to sit down with Isaac in LA this week, just a few days after the Star Wars trailer set out to take down computer servers across the planet. But we were interested in getting into the details of Isaac’s incredibly crafted performance in A Most Violent Year. Sporting a mustache, with the charm of Llewyn and the introspection of Abel, Isaac chatted building character and the fine line between morality and pragmatism.

The last thing I saw you in was Inside Llewyn Davis, where you’re playing a character always asking other people for help. Abel is always fighting against that. Are you more like Abel or a bit of both characters? The thing with Llewyn was that he was not happy asking for help. But he’s in a What the hell else am I gonna do? Can I bum a cigarette? kind of situation. With Abel, yes, he’s going to do things on his own, but there’s that constant fear that all of ithis could fall apart at any moment as well. When you’re playing somebody, the guy’s a millionaire, clearly he’s affluent, he’s doing great, got a great little family, moving to a bigger house, it’s kind of hard to find a reason to root for the guy. J.C. said that often, with a lot of these dudes who end up growing so much, there’s at least two or three moments in their life when they just go all in. They risk everything. This movie starts with Abel being like, ‘We’re risking everything right now.’ That intensity, the pull between I’m risking everything, I could lose everything at any minute and at the same time the singularity of vision, I know what our goal is and I know how we can get there, being unflappable. Those two things happening at the same time.

Playing a character with that constant conflict must have required physical work. This man has this anxiety in his gut the entire time. His goal is not to show people that. How did you start building Abel? Did you manifest that anxiety and build on top of that? It was a very dense script. Obviously he’s very formal. He doesn’t use contractions. He speaks very formally. As an actor you have a choice, you’re like I want to make it more human and talk like I do. I chose to lean into the formality in a way almost like a memory of your grandfather. I would ask [J.C.] all these questions–“What’s he feeling here, what’s he going through?”–and he would say, “The hair’s going to be amazing.” And I’d be like, “What?” [Laughs] Then, “What’s going on inside…?” He’s like, “The suits, you got to take a look at the suits!” I would get so frustrated! I even wrote him, “I don’t care about suits. I don’t care about the hair! I need to know what’s going on inside!” And then at one point he said, “The suits are not about fashion, it’s a suit of armor.” Suddenly that hit me in a much different way. As an actor, that’s completely actable.

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Star Wars character names revealed in trading cards

BBC.com — The names of characters played by John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been revealed in a set of trading cards.

Director JJ Abrams confirmed the names via some old school trading cards, in a humorous nod to when the films were first released in the 1970s. Boyega’s card showed his character to be called Finn, with Ridley’s named Rey and Isaac’s known as Poe Dameron. The football-like droid, seen in the recent trailer, was revealed as BB:8.

J.C. Chandor, Oscar Isaac fill a big canvas with ‘A Most Violent Year’

LATimes.com — Meting up after a triumphant opening-night premiere of “A Most Violent Year” at Los Angeles’ recent AFI Fest, actor Oscar Isaac and director J.C. Chandor didn’t look like the creative team behind one of the most complex, rewarding American films of the year. Rumpled, smiling and blinking in the light of the morning, they looked like two friends who’d gotten away with something. Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) was unshaven with a mustache for his upcoming part in “Show Me a Hero,” David Simon’s HBO project about Yonkers, N.Y. Chandor (“Margin Call,” “All Is Lost”) was wearing a green baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the Standard heating-oil company that Isaac’s character, Abel Morales, runs with his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), resulting in a struggle that plays out against the chilly background of 1981 New York.

Your first film, “Margin Call,” was set almost entirely in an office building; “All Is Lost” took place on a boat. Was “A Most Violent Year” a deliberate attempt to work with a larger canvas?

Chandor: Kind of, yeah. In this day and age, filmmakers in my position, you don’t get to paint a big canvas like this, a period film. We had 75, 80 locations, something like that, in the movie. I had $18 million to make this movie, which is a lot of money for me. I think about the films I’m making in that way too. What is this? What are we making here? And how does that fit into what’s going to be able to be made? For me, at least, the movie was always about a transition in America. You look back at the recent history of New York City, ’81 is the low point, and the city has been on this climb, which now one might say has been too successful. It’s a little Disney-fied. But it was pretty bad in ’81.

Everyone compares the film to works by Sidney Lumet (“Prince of the City,” “Q & A”). Is that just because he made these urban, adult films?

Chandor: I’m sure Sidney’s in his grave smiling at us. Come on. I’m honored that it’s even being discussed in that light. What I’m trying to do is raise the common guy, who is doing extraordinary things in the most extraordinary time of this couple’s life, right? These 30 days [in which they have to raise money to expand], it’s a pretty fascinating story. I think you kind of make yourself in those normal moments, and also, these high-pressure moments. I hope we’re walking the line and reminding people that there can be real entertainment and experience there.

Your scenes with Jessica Chastain have this real Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel. You want to succeed, but she knows what that’ll actually take.

Isaac: Yeah, it’s probably the best experience I’ve had working with somebody. We’ve known each other for a long time. We actually went to Juilliard together; we’ve been friends for that long. There is that element — this is a guy who had a reputation for doing things the right way, for being good, but he’s got that ambition and turns a blind eye to certain things. So, those scenes, there was such an immediate intimacy.

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