Most known recently 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.
Released in cinemas today, Steve Jobs is the true story of the pioneering founder of Apple, which, directed by Danny Boyle, sees Fassbender take the lead alongside Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels.
To celebrate the film’s release, here are my top five Michael Fassbender performances.
5. Hunger (2008)
The first 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.
4. Prometheus (2012)
Despite the many negative reviews about this film, I really loved it. 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.
With strong acting from an excellent cast, this instalment reminded me very much of the original Alien film in that it had a set of characters you could actually care about, with a strong leading female that I hope we will see more of. Whilst this wasn’t a direct prequel, I felt that the story line explained quite a lot about the origins of the aliens and that it was also strong enough to work as a stand alone film, as well as being a respectable part of the Alien franchise itself.
3. 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.
The violence is enough to make you wince, but director Steve McQueen knows how to handle such bleak topics excellently. McQueen’s filmography is a showcase of powerful work (three of his films are in this list!) because he does not shy away by desensitising such realities; it made be hard to watch, but that’s how it went. Letting us see every lash of the whip, every scar, and every tear from these people, nothing is held back.
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.
2. X-Men: First Class (2011)
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. This new instalment, directed by Kick Ass‘ Matthew Vaughn, does that perfectly. Explaining the origin of the rival mutant teams, introducing us to both younger characters from the previous films and to new characters as well, showcasing a handful of extraordinary new powers, it’s great to see where it all began.
This latest X-Men film has a great cast, combining well-known names such as James McAvoy and Kevin Bacon. with a selection of rising stars including Skins‘ Nicholas Hoult and the beautiful Jennifer Lawrence.
1. Shame (2011)
Despite how disturbing the premise of this film is, which is no surprise with it being the third 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 in to the story. It’s obvious that the 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.
Mulligan, too, is brilliant, and because of her amazing, if not slightly awkward chemistry, with Fassbender, it’s really easy to engage with what’s happening despite how unrelatable it is.
More about Steve Jobs:
Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.
Steve Jobs is directed by Academy Award® winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the Apple founder. The producers are Mark Gordon, Guymon Casady of Film 360, Scott Rudin and Academy Award® winner Christian Colson.
Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, the pioneering founder of Apple, with Academy Award®-winning actress Kate Winslet starring as Joanna Hoffman, former marketing chief of Macintosh. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, is played by Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels stars as former Apple CEO John Sculley. The film also stars Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs’ ex-girlfriend, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original members of the Apple Macintosh development team.