The Ford Five: Best Michael Fassbender Performances
Every chance I get, I sing the praises of Michael Fassbender. One of the greatest actors around today, Fassbender has amassed an incredible and diverse filmography in just eight years. From blockbusters like breakthrough film 300 and the X-Men series to Oscar-winning drama, Fassbender has proven time and time again that he can pull off just about any role.
With his latest film, Slow West, released in UK cinemas today (26th June), I decided to count down his five greatest performances to date. It was far from easy (as most of his performances deserved a ranking), and I’m sure many will disagree about some performances that weren’t included, but I believe this is a great list of the greatest Michael Fassbender performances.
Lt. Archie Hicox – Inglourious Basterds
Erik “Magneto” Lensherr – X-Men: First Class
Bobby Sands – Hunger
David – Prometheus
Though his role as Magneto in the X-Men films is perhaps his most well-known performance, his best role in a big summer blockbuster was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. As David the android, Fassbender is chilling, mixing pleasantries with a disturbing lack of humanity. Prometheus didn’t work for everybody and there were plenty of flaws, but Fassbender is, by some margin, the best thing about the film.
Conor – Fish Tank
The same year as Fassbender worked with Quentin Tarantino on Inglourious Basterds, he starred in Andrea Arnold’s lesser-seen gem. Focusing on the complex relationship between a teenage girl living on a council estate, and her Mum’s charming new boyfriend, Fish Tank is one of the most outstanding British films of the last decade, and a large part of its success is down to Fassbender. Creeping the line between fatherly role model and something far seedier, Fassbender plays it completely down to Earth, and perfectly matches the terrific Katie Jarvis, creating a challenging and bold film. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of Fish Tank, coming soon to the blog.
Edwin Epps – 12 Years A Slave
Michael Fassbender’s performance in Steve McQueen’s debut film, Hunger, proved to be his international breakthrough (it was painful to leave that performance as an honourable mention); his third collaboration with McQueen, 12 Years A Slave, scored him his first (and so far only) Oscar nomination. By far the nastiest role of his career, Fassbender plays a brutal slave owner who spends his screen time drinking heavily and abusing everyone in sight. Filming was so intense Fassbender passed out after one particularly unpleasant scene, and it shows in his performance, all dead eyes and terrifying physicality.
Frank – Frank
The best film of 2014, Frank also won Fassbender the Best Supporting Actor award at last year’s Ford On Film End of Year Awards. I’ve written at length about the film and the performance; all I can really say now is that Fassbender’s performance, relying entirely on his body due to wearing a large prosthetic head, is equal parts hilarious and tragic. There are very few A-listers in the world who have dared to give a performance as out-there as Michael Fassbender in Frank, and his performance is the real heart and soul of the film.
Brandon – Shame
As a tormented, self-loathing sex addict in his second collaboration with Steve McQueen, Michael Fassbender gave the most complete, perfect performance of his career. An immensely challenging and difficult film, Shame lays Fassbender completely bare, emotionally and physically. Though perhaps most remembered for Fassbender’s graphic nudity and sex scenes, Shame features a number of devastatingly emotional scenes, all performed with a beautiful amount of subtlety and realism. Winning Best Actor at the BIFA’s and the Kermode Awards, as well as receiving nominations at the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s (the Academy once again got it wrong by not nominating him), Shame is, for better or worse, the most memorable performance of Michael Fassbender’s career to date, and perhaps one of the all-time great acting performances.
By Harry Ford
- Posted in: Lists ♦ The Ford Five
- Tagged: 12 years a slave, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, andrea arnold, BAFTA, best film, best performances, best supporting actor, bobby sands, british, controversial, david, disturbing, fish tank, frank, hunger, inglourious basterds, katie jarvis, michael fassbender, oscars, prometheus, quentin tarantino, ridley scott, shame, slow west, steve mcqueen, x men first class