A Most Violent Year – Film Review

Oscar Isaac is magnificent in this enthralling movie about an unlikely gangster

After starring as a hapless folk musician in last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac is starting 2015 in stellar form. Compelling in Ex Machina, he is magnificent here, and has to be: in this enthralling third film from JC Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost), he is rarely off the screen. It’s 1981, and Abel Morales, a principled New Yorker, is cutting a deal that will make or break his heating-oil business. But his trucks are getting hijacked, his wife (Jessica Chastain) wants him to fight, and an ambitious district attorney (David Oyelowo) is looking for someone to make an example of. Chandor daringly inverts the gangster-movie stereotype, and from the first frame Isaac has you willing Abel to do the right thing.