Michael Fassbender could be the best Steve Jobs actor yet

Michael Fassbender could be the best Steve Jobs actor yet

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Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs.
Reviewers are already throwing around Oscar talk.
Photo: Universal Pictures

After a rocky pre-production period which saw it switch directors, lose actor after actor, and even be ditched by its original studio, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic finally made its debut at Colorado’s Telluride Film Festival this weekend — and, boy, does it sound like it was worth the wait!

Reviews so far are all good-to-excellent, but the real surprise is the unanimous support for Michael Fassbender as Jobs. We’d noted before how little Fassbender physically resembles Steve although, as has been proven time and again, that doesn’t stop good actors from inhabiting a role — which is exactly what it sounds like Fassbender has done.

Here’s what people are saying about the movie:

Trade magazine Variety has plenty of compliments for the film from a structural perspective, but saves most of its praise for Fassbender’s performance. In an early review entitled, “With ‘Steve Jobs,’ Fassbender Shoots to the Top of This Year’s Best Actor Oscar Race,” the reviewer notes that:

“The Shame and 12 Years a Slave star crushes the role of the eponymous tortured genius and then some in a film that takes bold strides within a well-worn genre and is sure to take off throughout the season… if the character doesn’t put viewers off, that is. …

Fassbender is possessed here, and therefore a no-brainer best actor Oscar contender who just shot to the top of that list alongside gentlemen like Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) and Johnny Depp (Black Mass) this year.”

In a four-star (out of five) review, Time Out also praises Fassbender’s performance (“By the time the film gets to 1998, Fassbender has … become the spitting image of the person he’s playing”) and Sorkin’s script. One minor criticism relates to Danny Boyle’s direction in the movie’s later moments, with the reviewer noting that:

“After nearly two hours of keeping his worst impulses at bay (prepare to roll your eyes as the image stutters like a computer screen about to freeze), Boyle’s shoot-for-the-moon instincts seize on the one maudlin note of Sorkin’s script and drive home the final minutes with a wallop of well-meaning schmaltz that reeks of candied bullshit.”

In a three-star (again, out of five) review, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper has reviewer Benjamin Lee summarize how:

“Danny Boyle’s talky look at the Apple icon boasts an assured leading turn but the dominance of Aaron Sorkin’s script and focus on business wrangles mean this will mostly appeal to the Apple geek.”

Lee does acknowledge that this is Boyle’s best film in years, however. He also emphasizes what I can see might be a criticism of the movie for people not all that invested in tech: that the massive amounts of importance placed on seemingly inconsequential details is a bit baffling if you’re of the opinion (which I’m assuming no-one reading this is) that a computer is just a… well, a computer:

“Sorkin’s heavily heightened sense of drama works best when the stakes are equally aligned but, despite the film constantly informing you of just how incredibly important everything all is, it’s disappointingly difficult to truly care about what’s taking place. The lack of public acknowledgement for certain team members (!!), the optional hard drive which isn’t really optional (!!!), the absence of a completed operating system for a product that’s about to be demo’d (!!!!), these are all treated with the same urgency as political crises in The West Wing.”

indieWIRE gives the movie a B+ rating and calls it “Birdman for the tech sector.” Much like Sorkin’s other Silicon Valley drama, the Social NetworkSteve Jobs is credited for maintaining its pace throughout:

“Steve Jobs zips along at an exciting clip.  Alwin H. Küchler’s roaming camerawork melds nicely with Daniel Pemberton’s elaborate score, but Fassbender’s vivacious performance provides a critical anchor … The biggest transformation in Jobs, however, involves its director. Boyle, who took on the project following David Fincher’s departure, drops his usual whirlwind editing style and instead develops an engrossing chamber piece. It’s the rare Boyle production that doesn’t so much burrow inside its character’s mind as it explores the chaos he conjures up around him. Still, as Boyle and Sorkin both treasure the value of forward momentum, the pace of Steve Jobs is its true star. While the story covers 14 years, it never takes a breather.”

Sounds promising, right? Hey, it had to be good to live up to the sweet poster. Now we just need to wait a few more weeks until Steve Jobs is on general release to make up our own minds.