Most recently known for his role as a young Magneto in the latest X-Men franchise, Michael Fassbender is most credible for his compelling performances in a number of hard-hitting true stories, most notably alongside directed Steve McQueen. It certainly took a few bad films to get him there, but he is now one of the best working actors around.
Here is my ranking of his performances (not of the films themselves) to date:
1. Shame (2011)
Despite how disturbing the premise of this film is, which is no surprise with it being the first film in this list to be directed by Steve McQueen, Shame is a captivating drama that deals with its subject matter brilliantly. Whilst it is deeply informed, exploring the dark side of an illness that we don’t often get to see, it is also incredibly raunchy; not all the time, as it does well to show how such an illness can affect those around you, but enough to make you never want to take your eyes off the screen. It was dealt with well enough that nothing reached the level of repulsiveness that can often be stretched to by addicts because that’s exactly what it is: an addiction; an obsession that needs constant attention, and scenes like that are not often so acceptable in a full-length film.
For a large part, we have Fassbender to thank for that, as he gives a strong lead performance that really draws you into the story. It’s obvious that he and McQueen have a great connection together and it definitely shows. Fassbender has become a big name over the past year and it is films like Shame that show us why.
2. Hunger (2008)
The second of three films in this list to be directed by Steve McQueen, Hunger is a painful film to watch, based on a torturing situation that mainly consists of Fassbender’s character lying in bed dying for half of the film, with a hugely impressive 17-minute long conversation in the middle.
Full of great acting and directing, Hunger tells the true story incredibly, but it is a difficult film to watch because of how brutal its premise is.
2. The X-Men franchise (2011-2019)
I’ve always been a fan of the X-Men films, but despite the phenomenal casting of the original films, it definitely needed a reboot. Matthew Vaughn did a great job with the start of this new trilogy of films, although the final instalment certainly had its flaws.
Explaining the origins of the rival mutant teams, introducing us to both younger characters from the previous films and to new characters, as well, the films showcased a handful of extraordinary new mutant powers. It’s been great to see where it all began, especially with the phenomenal cast attached to it, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, and Jennifer Lawrence.
4. Jane Eyre (2011)
An elegant and atmospheric adaptation of a literary classic. The soundtrack and score are beautiful, as is the periodic reconstruction, making the whole aesthetic of this film come together brilliantly.
Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are the reason that this film works so well, both giving excellent performances. The two have a strong chemistry that most will find engaging and deliver their portrayals of Bronte’s characters perfectly.
5. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
Dealing with its subject matter honestly, this uncompromising look at slavery was even more difficult to watch than I imagined it would be. Reducing me to tears more than once, the camera is held for minutes at a time to show the full impact of some of the worst of situations that these people had to live with on a daily basis.
Its story is heartbreaking and effectively eye-opening in its seriousness, but also stunning in its delivery at the same time, with beautiful location shots and a really lovely score. The cast all deliver some of their best performances, with Michael Fassbender, especially, giving a dark performance that makes the journey all the more uncomfortable to witness. 12 Years A Slave is a truly impressive piece of film-making from an exceptional director.
My Rankings Continued
- 6. Steve Jobs –
- 7. The Light Between The Oceans – – After reading The Light Between Oceans and finding out that one of my favourite directors, Derek Cianfrance, would be directed the adaptation and that two of my favourite actors, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, would be staring in the lead roles, I couldn’t have been looking forward to this film more. Sometimes film adaptations of your favourite books can go awfully wrong, but sometimes they can also become one of your favourite films. The Light Between Oceans is now one of my favourite everythings! You can read my full review here.
- 8. Macbeth – – With phenomenal performances from Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the lead, Macbeth is an incredible, dark retelling of the story, filled with beautifully striking visuals that capture the poetic lustre of this definitive play perfectly. You can read my full review here.
- 9. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant – – Prometheus is a brilliant sci-fi that is full of suspense and the kind of horror that the Alien films are all so acclaimed for. This film perfectly captures the terrifying atmosphere that the first two Alien films managed to create, and there are fantastic visuals throughout. You can read my full review here.
- 10. Eden Lake – – A brilliant and tense horror. The leads of Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender really make this work – their strong performances are powerful and believable giving a real sense of danger. I didn’t like Jack O’Connell in Skins but he was also very good here. Eden Lake is a very dark but this makes for a great horror that avoids the normal downfalls of its genre.
- 11. Inglorious Basterds – – Undoubtedly my favourite Tarantino film so far. I could watch this on repeat and never bore of it. With a brilliant and intense opening half an hour, Inglourious Basterds is masterful scene after masterful scene and is filled to the brim with excellent performances from the incredible Christoph Waltz, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and Eli Roth. You can read my full review here.
- 12. A Dangerous Method – – A great trio of actors and therefore a very well-acted drama. The story is interesting, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make it entertaining. Whilst rather dull for the best part, it was still a decent watch.
- 13. The Snowman – – A film like this has a potential to be a five-star film for me – a mystery thriller set in a stunning location with an exceptional cast. If it’s done right, that is, but The Snowman is lacking a certain quality to it to give the effect that a story like this should have. If I had read the book then I would have understood this film a lot better, but it just doesn’t piece together without doing so. The structure is all over the place and there’s so much left unanswered. And when you think that you’re about to get an epic conclusion, the ending is completely rushed over. You can read my full review here.
- 14. Frank – – I loved the whole tone of this film and that’s what kept me watching (that and I wanted to see if we got to see Michael Fassbender’s face or not!) Domhnall Gleeson is brilliant in this, and I really enjoyed how he told a lot of the story via tweets. It’s nice to take the piss sometimes, and the eccentricity of this film allows that to be done subtly and with a lot of humour. I also enjoyed how the indie style comedy blends with themes of mental illness which gives the story a backbone, and, of course, there’s a brilliant soundtrack to go along with it.
- 15. 300 – – Surprisingly, I loved this film. I didn’t think the constant fighting and litres of blood would be my type of film, but it was visually stunning and the story played out so well that I couldn’t turn away. Gerard Butler is brilliant in the lead and there’s a great supporting cast, too, including Michael Fassbender.
- 16. Haywire – – Whilst it had the threat of being a Bourne copy-cat, Haywire is something much different. The film has its qualities – the cast, the minimalist yet strong action sequences – but it is nothing new and it is nowhere near on-par. There’s a constant lack of depth and engagement as the film just plods along for 90 minutes without ever picking up motion. It’s a very unthrilling thriller, to say the least.
- 17. Fish Tank – – A strong premise and great performances, but it was overall very empty and I have come away with no feelings towards the film at all, really. I only watched this for Fassbender anyway, but even he didn’t help to give this a better rating.
- 18. Assassins Creed – – I’ve watched this a few times now and every time that I ends, I instantly forget the majority of it. I don’t even remember the performances of an amazing cast including Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and Charlotte Rampling. How does that even happen?!
- 19. The Counselor – – The best thing about this film was Cameron Diaz. With an excellent cast including Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Penélope Cruz, that’s probably the last thing you want to hear. There is a great cast but I felt that the story was severely lacking any depth, as if we were just left to presume that these were all-powerful and tough men without giving us any reason to believe so. It was just unconvincing.
- 20. Centurion – – The plot seemed pretty non-existent, and the performances were all very average, so watching this has become a blur to me.
- 21. Jonah Hex – – DC have so many bad films in their collection, and this adds to the list.
- 22. Angel – – Angel has to be one of the most annoying characters that film has ever seen. Watching her for a whopping 134 minutes was such a tedious task!
- 23. Blood Creek – – Don’t watch this is if you are a fan of Michael Fassbender.
Note: I still need to watch Song to Song and Trespass Against Us.