Oscar Isaac's Best Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

'Star Wars' and 'Spider-Man' titles are some of the highest-rated movies Oscar Isaac has acted in. Discover the best, ranked by Metascore.
by Taylor Freitas — 

Oscar Isaac

Steve Jennings / Getty Images

Born in Guatemala and raised in Florida, Oscar Isaac is an award-winning film, stage, and television actor best known for his work in movies like Ex Machina, X-Men: Apocalypse, and the Star Wars sequel trilogy. 

Over the years, Isaac has shown off his impressive acting range, performing in everything from science-fiction movies (Annihilation), to animated films (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), to action thrillers (Drive). He's also proven his musical talent, most notably when he portrayed folk singer Llewyn Davis in 2013's Inside Llewyn Davis.

The Julliard-trained actor started his career in the late '90s with supporting roles in movies including Illtown and All About the Benjamins before starring in The Nativity Story in 2006. Along the way, he tapped into his theatrical background and acted in Shakespeare in the Park productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet.

In addition to his film and stage credits, Isaac also has several television appearances on his resume — in a range of programs that includes Law & Order: Criminal IntentScenes From a Marriage, on which he reunited with his A Most Violent Year co-star Jessica Chastain; and the upcoming Disney+ series Moon Knight. However, despite his experience across multiple mediums, we've focused specifically on his movie roles for this list.

Though Isaac's acting work spans many different genres, he's made a name for himself by appearing in sci-fi flicks. If you're interested in these types of films, you can find a few on the following list, including titles like Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi.

Here, Metacritic highlights Isaac's top 10 movies, ranked by Metascore.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Metascore: 93
Best for: Music lovers, Coen brothers fans
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Pluto TV, Vudu 
Runtime: 104 minutes

Written and directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis follows the career of folk singer Llewyn Davis as he tries to make it big in 1960s New York. Isaac stars as the title character, putting his acting, singing, and guitar-playing skills on full display — embodying the role of Davis in a way that the Coen brothers almost didn't believe was possible. After the film was released in 2013, Isaac's performance garnered immense critical praise, earning him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

"Inside Llewyn Davis plays like some beautiful, foreboding, darkly funny dream." — Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of superheroes, especially Marvel superheroes
Where to watch: 

Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 117 minutes

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse delves into the life of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teenager in New York who gets bitten by a spider and becomes Spider-Man. As the first animated movie in the Spider-Man franchise, the film features an impressive voice cast list that also includes Chris Pine, Mahershala Ali, Lily Tomlin, and Nicolas Cage. Although Isaac doesn't have a role in the movie itself, you can hear his voice in a post-credits scene, where he plays Miguel O'Hara/Spider-Man 2099 — a cameo that teased his involvement in the upcoming Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse - Part One.

"A joyful, trippy new incarnation of Spider-Man that you didn't know you needed, brimming with wit, soul and jaw-dropping visuals." — Matt Maytum, Total Film

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of science fiction and fantasy
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 152 minutes

In Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, Rey (Daisy Ridley) turns to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to study the ways of the Force. In the process, she begins communicating with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and learns about his complicated history with Skywalker. Isaac appears as Poe Dameron, a pilot fighter who works under General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) in the Resistance. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi was the highest-grossing film of 2017 and marked Isaac's second appearance in a Star Wars movie (the first being 2015's Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens).

"Rian Johnson's film is the real deal, a bold, risky venture unafraid to tell its own story, freed from the weight of nostalgia and formula." — Christopher Machell, Cinevue

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Metascore: 80
Best for: Sci-fi fans, J.J. Abrams followers
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 135 minutes

Released in 2015, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is the sequel to George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. It's set 30 years after the previous film and follows the rise of Kylo Ren, the leader of the First Order who is determined to destroy the Resistance. Isaac starts his run as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron in this film, in which he is captured and tortured by Ren's Stormtroopers. The film was the first in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, earning five Academy Award nominations and taking home the BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

"It works on every imaginable level as a heartfelt love letter to fans, an irresistible invitation to newbies, a visual marvel and a blockbuster of unparalleled emotional heft and cultural significance." — Isaac Feldberg, We Got This Covered


Metascore: 79
Best for: Thrill seekers, and fantasy and science fiction fans
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Paramount+, Vudu 
Runtime: 115 minutes

Annihilation is a 2018 sci-fi thriller that follows Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist and Army veteran, who goes looking for her husband Kane (Isaac) after he disappears into a mysterious zone called Area X. On her journey, Lena discovers the beautiful but dangerous realities of Area X, which pushes her to the edge, both mentally and physically. Annihilation, which came out in 2018, is based on Jeff VanderMeer's 2014 novel of the same title. It was written and directed by Alex Garland — with whom Isaac previously collaborated on 2015's Ex Machina.

"Annihilation is more than mere visuals and it will shock, fascinate and haunt whatever screen it's watched on." — Benjamin Lee, The Guardian

A Most Violent Year

Metascore: 79
Best for: Fans of crime dramas and action flicks
Where to watch: 

Google Play, iTunesVudu 
Runtime: 125 minutes

Set in New York in 1981, A Most Violent Year tells the story of Abel Morales (Isaac), a small business owner trying to protect his business and employees from rampant violence in the streets. Along the way, he and his wife Anna (Chastain) deal with financial struggles and threats against their family's safety — leading Morales to make some risky deals to stay afloat. The movie won three National Board of Review Awards, including Best Film and Best Supporting Actress for Chastain. Isaac tied for Best Actor with Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

"A far more interesting film than its title implies. And a film you've never seen before." — Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Card Counter

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of thrillers and dramas
Where to watch: 

Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 109 minutes

In The Card Counter, Isaac stars as William Tell, a self-taught professional gambler and casino regular. Despite his best attempts to lay low, he's recognized and approached by Cirk Baufort (Tye Sheridan), whose father served time with Tell in a military prison. Together, they hit the road, with Tell taking Baufort under his wing as he tries to earn himself a spot in the World Series of Poker. The Card Counter, which was released in 2021, was recognized as one of the year's Top 10 Independent Films by the National Board of Review.

"It's not for everybody, and it's far from perfect, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a more thrillingly necessary use of the filmmaking form this year." — Oliver Jones, Observer


Metascore: 78
Best for: Action film lovers
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Tubi, Vudu 
Runtime: 100 minutes

Based on the book by James Sallis, Drive is a fast-paced action film about an unnamed stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) in Los Angeles who doubles as a getaway car driver. He forms a close relationship with his neighbor Irene Gabriel (Carey Mulligan) – until her husband Standard Gabriel (Isaac), returns from jail and asks for his help robbing a pawn shop. When the robbery goes wrong, the driver is forced to step in to protect Irene and her young son. Drive was nominated for a number of awards after its 2011 release, including an Oscar, two BAFTA Awards, and a Golden Globe.

"Drive feels like some kind of masterpiece — it's as pure a version of the essentials as you're likely to see." — Joshua Rothkopf, TimeOut

Ex Machina

Metascore: 78
Best for: Fans of science fiction and artificial intelligence
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 108 minutes

Directed by Alex Garland, Ex Machina is a sci-fi movie that explores the relationship between humans and technology. In the film, Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) works as a programmer and wins a trip to the secluded home of his company's CEO, Nathan Bateman (Isaac). While there, Bateman asks Smith to test the capabilities of his artificial intelligence experiment, a robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) – which leads to a series of surprising outcomes. The film, which was Garland's directorial debut, took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

"'Ex Machina' is a clever film with one indelible performance from Isaac." – Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail

At Eternity's Gate

Metascore: 76
Best for: Biographical film fans and art lovers
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 111 minutes

At Eternity's Gate is a fictional interpretation of the last years of Vincent van Gogh's (Willem Dafoe) life, leading up to his death. Isaac appears as fellow artist Paul Gauguin, who comes to visit van Gogh in France. At the end of the visit, van Gogh cuts off part of his ear to prove his commitment to his art — an act that gets him sent to a mental asylum. After the film came out in 2018, Dafoe's performance received recognition from around the industry, earning him nominations for Best Actor at the Oscars, Critics' Choice Awards, and Golden Globes.

"It's a beautiful visual and spiritual journey through the glorious highs and devastating lows of a brilliant artist who was ahead of his time." — Lorry Kikta, Film Threat