Oscar Isaac is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood right now. He’s unpredictable on-screen, choosing roles that range from playful heroes in sci-fi franchises to morally-tormented crime lords and tech bros destroyed, quite literally, by their own hubris. And he’s talented — if all the awards and accolades he’s carted home over the years are anything to go by.
But it’s really not fair to honor the career of this ska-punk-band-leader-turned-thespian without acknowledging all of the facets of his career that set him apart which is why, instead of giving you some dull, uninspired catalog of his greatest works, we’re ranking Isaac’s contribution to film using the prestigious, industry-accepted “Thirst-Trap-Scale.” The “Thirst-Trap-Scale” (like the rotten tomatoes and thumbs up and five-star rating systems of the past) attempts to quantify a film, show, or performance based on its innate carnality.
Now, let us be clear: though Oscar Isaac is in fact a beautiful human being, the “Thirst-Trap-Scale” doesn’t reflect our feelings on the actor’s own attractiveness. Instead, we’re judging the characters he’s played — their looks, their wardrobes, their charisma — and deciding which have left audiences the most titillated. And we’re doing it for science. This is all very above-board. It’s been vetted by unbiased sources. It’s quite official. There’s no personal gain to be had by myself, the writer, or anyone who regularly simps for Team Ethnic Hips on social media …
9. Duke Leto Atreides in Dune
What can we say about this performance that John Boyega hasn’t already? Not only is Isaac inheriting a major role in a beloved sci-fi universe he’s also fully embracing the “zaddy” status the internet has been trying to thrust upon him for years with that chin bush. That’s called creative growth, people. The only reason this role doesn’t rank higher is because technically, the movie has yet to be released so we have only limited glimpses of Isaac brooding with Denis Villeneuve’s muted apocalyptic wasteland aesthetic littering the background. But it was enough to carry us through a pandemic-driven-thirst-drought last year, and that’s nothing to sneer at.
8. Prince John in Robin Hood
Look, I saw that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tell-all. I’ve watched every episode of The Crown. I know the British monarchy is really just a group of in-bred colonizers plagued by early-onset-balding who deserve no allegiance from a commoner such as I. And normally I’d be all for watching these Royals burn and giving the spoils to the poor. But if you’re talking about thieving from this curly-haired beefcake, we’re gonna have problems. Even Cate Blanchett couldn’t sway me against whatever bizarre Prince John cosplay Isaac is pitching here and though the rest of movie is a total slog, watching Isaac work out his mommy issues while lording over a bunch of peasants is oddly satisfying. He didn’t have to make a hated historical figure that horny, but he did.
7. Abel Morales in A Most Violent Year
That he could even pull focus from the exquisite Jessica Chastain is a testament to Isaac’s inherent swag but add in some perfectly tailored coats and a pinch of mob boss bravado, and you’ve got this master class in on-screen thirst trapping. Yes, this is a very serious crime drama and yes, Isaac is fantastic as a reluctant modern-day oil baron forced to get his hands dirty to make a profit. But you know what should really be illegal? For Isaac to look that good in a turtle neck with a salt-and-peppered bouffant to boot. The man is a damn criminal.
6. Kane in Annihilation
Is he a genius military specialist with a cheating wife or an alien symbiote posing as a genius military specialist with a cheating wife? Do we really even care as long as he keeps spouting nonsense in that weird amalgam of every bad southern accent you’ve ever heard?
5. Poe Dameron in the Star Wars Trilogy
If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it, did it really ever fall? If Oscar Isaac hadn’t alerted us to the size of his hips, would we have ever concerned ourselves with whether he could fit into the pilot seat of the Millenium Falcon? Ah, life’s sweet mysteries. But really, Isaac was one of the few bright spots of the sequel trilogy, playing a cocky wingman to Boyega’s Finn and the reluctant leader of the Resistance. He clearly had fun with the role, channeling the kind of roguish charm Harrison Ford patented in the original films and adding queer undertones to his bromance with the former Stormtrooper. We’ll never forgive Disney for denying Isaac the friends-turned-lovers space romance he so rightly deserved but we can reward his cheeky pandering by rating this spice smuggler above that previously mentioned spice lord. Side note: Oscar Isaac is proof Dune and Star Wars share a universe, no?
4. Llewyn Davis in Inside Llewyn Davis
He’s so damn tired. Why is Oscar Isaac so damn tired in this movie? Because he’s been running through our minds for so long, that’s why. A starving artist who treks across ’60s era New York playing folk music and toting a cat around? Isaac knew what he was doing with this role and what he was doing was planting a sexual metaphor deep into our subconscious. Think about it.
3. Santiago “Pope” Garcia in Triple Frontier
This movie may be the closest we’ll ever come to a Pedro Pascal/Oscar Isaac rom-com. The setting: a remote South American jungle. The premise: some ex-military bros wanna recreate the movie Girls Trip but with guns and a chopper full of cash stolen from a powerful drug lord. To be fair, each actor involved in this action romp was thirst-trapping in his own way — save Sadffleck, but Isaac’s got the most skin in the game. He’s the ringleader, the mastermind with a plan to bring about justice and get his friends paid. He’s got a haircut that says, “I’ve seen things, man.” You have to respect the drip.
2. Nathan in Ex Machina
Ex Machina is a terrific sci-fi movie, and not just because Oscar Isaac performs a bisexually-lit ’70s-inspired dance montage about midway through. Said routine is both delightfully vivacious and unsettingly sinister, performed by a man who has no regard for the rules that govern polite society … or zip-up hoodies. In Ex Machina, Isaac plays the original techno Gatsby, a guy named Nathan who is at once both an egomaniac consumed by his own genius and a chill West Coast hippie type who just wants to hang and talk about his organic diet with you — as long as you sign the NDA first. We can only assume it was Isaac who told director Alex Garland that his Silicon Valley bro would only wear tank-tops and rimless eyeglasses, that he’d have a shaved head but full beard, that his arms would be swole even though he spent most of his day rearranging post-it notes on his vision board and tinkering with the attractive A.I.’s he had enslaved. We can only assume Isaac meant to make us question the very fabric of what humanity finds attractive with these choices. Well, he succeeded.
1. Blue Jones in Sucker Punch
This is the movie I blame for making me irrationally irate over the Addams family reboot. How can you look at this pencil-thin mustache and think, “No, Oscar Isaac should only voice the animated version of Gomez Adams.” How?! Now, admittedly, only one version of the character Isaac is playing here, a man named Blue Jones, is hot — and it’s not the grey-toned psych orderly who harbors a strange obsession with one of his patients. Sure, his alter-ego is a corrupt brothel owner who pimps and abuses women in a film that tries to say something about the relationship between sexism, misogyny and pop culture, but is it so wrong that we think Isaac’s charisma on-screen is so hot, it’s causing his stage makeup and emo eyeliner to literally melt off his moneymaker? (It is, isn’t it?)