Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

2. Michael Fassbender for Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method and Shame

"Michael Fassbender" doesn't have quite the marquee zing of "Brad Pitt." But the handsome German-Irish actor, who came to the art-house world's attention three years ago playing Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's Hunger, outgunned Pitt with four remarkable performances in films released this year. In Jane Eyre he plays the broodingly sensual Rochester to Mia Wasikowska's sympathetic governess. He is the young Magneto (who grows up to be a maleficent Ian McKellen) in the summer prequel X-Men: First Class and Carl Jung, irresistibly drawn to a comely patient, in A Dangerous Method. All these characters, in whom Fassbender invests so much of his feral intelligence, were known to viewers through earlier films or biographies. But in McQueen's Shame he plays a character — Manhattan office worker Brendan — who is new and unknown. In a blazing exhibition, Fassbender reveals the desperate urges of a sex addict, seeking anonymous release while denying himself human contact. Would any man want to be him? Could any woman resist him? Hollywood can't keep its hands off Fassbender. He has already filmed roles in Steven Soderbergh's action film Haywire and Ridley Scott's Alien semiprequel Prometheus. So we'll be seeing a good deal more of this Mensa heartthrob, though perhaps not as much as in Shame.