Criminally unrecognized by awards voters and general audiences (perhaps until next month with Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Oscar Isaac has been quietly giving the most diverse range of characters of an actor his age. One of the best lead male performance of the decade was his work in the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis, a showcase for his gifts of subtlety and sorrow, but also for unexpected wowza musical talent.
In Ex Machina, he gets to play with a full toolbox of mystery. The performance mirrors the film’s delicate balance of big ideas, moral indifference, and sexual undercurrent. Isaac often underplays moments that lesser actors could have turned into moustache-twirling, allowing the film’s darker ideas to speak for themselves. He plays the film’s narrative cards close to the chest but is still an open book, enticing and alluring to the audience and Domhnall Gleeson’s protagonist. Unyielding to the sinister and kooky elements, it’s also the sexiest performance of the year to boot.
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