If there's one actor we always look forward to watching, it's Michael Fassbender. The mercurial star of films as varied as 12 Years a Slave, Frank and the X-Men series is back on our screens in moving drama The Light Between Oceans, so what better time to recap his frankly extraordinary film career so far?
In his first significant lead role, not to mention his first collaboration with director Steve McQueen, Fassbender compels and disturbs as Maze Prison hunger striker Bobby Sands. Quite apart from the physical ravages he puts himself through, it's the actor's ability to convey Sands' fiercely committed beliefs that really lingers in the mind.
Fish Tank (2009)
One of Fassbender's great skills is to take unsavoury characters and make them utterly compelling. They don't get more seedy than his predatory boyfriend role in Andrea Arnold's critically acclaimed kitchen sink drama, the actor playing a gripping big bad wolf figure opposite electrifying screen newcomer Katie Jarvis.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
In his breakout Hollywood role, Fassbender more than holds his own against the scene-stealing likes of Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz. Director Quentin Tarantino's WWII/Spaghetti Western mash-up casts Fassbender as the superbly suave Lt. Archie Hicox, and the moment where the gallant Brit meets his end is one of the actor's finest moments.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Matthew Vaughn's mutant epic took the X-Men back to their origins, and it's a comic book adventure stuffed with great performances. All the more credit to Fassbender then that his seething, anguished take on Magneto is far and away the best thing in the movie, resonating far more than the glitzy special effects.
Jane Eyre (2011)
Charlotte Bronte's brooding, broiling literary creation Mr. Rochester has been treated to a host of different iterations from the likes of Orson Welles and George C. Scott. However Fassbender's understated, intensely emotional performance opposite Mia Wasikowska as Jane herself is surely up there with the best of them.
In his second collaboration with Steve McQueen, Fassbender plunged to even more forbidding depths of character as sex addict Brandon. The star's raw, unforgiving performance as a man consumed by his own inner demons is so convincing it's hard to watch, further proof that the Fassbender/McQueen partnership is film dynamite.
A Dangerous Method (2012)
Fassbender's a dab hand at playing real-life figures too. He puts a debonair spin on legendary psychologist Carl Jung in David Cronenberg's playful look at the former's relationship with Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) – in fact, during filming, Fassbender was so delighted with how his career was going that Cronenberg expressed irritation with how happy he looked between scenes.
Very often in movie fight scenes, it's easy to tell ourselves that the actors aren't getting hurt. Trust Fassbender to blow that theory out of the water. His bruising dust-up with Gina Carano in Steven Soderbergh's witty spy caper is one for the ages, a flinch-inducing barrage made all the more-so by the fact the two actors committed themselves throughout.
Ridley Scott's visually stunning quasi-prequel to his classic Alien divides opinion with its muddled storyline and oddly motivated characters. But Fassbender's consummately believable performance as eerie android David is easily the most captivating and intriguing thing about it, his blonde locks modelled on Lawrence of Arabia. David will be back next year in Alien: Covenant.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
It takes a very special kind of actor to take an utterly despicable, loathsome real-life figure and find the humanity in them. That's exactly what Fassbender did with his incendiary, Oscar-nominated performance as brutal slave owner Edwin Epps in Steve McQueen's extraordinary drama: never lapsing into caricature, it's a towering portrayal of a man whose soul has been corrupted by the very institution to which he belongs.
Back on lighter territory after 12 Years a Slave, Fassbender demonstrated we didn't even need to see his face in order to beguile and enchant us. Room director Lenny Abrahamson's whimsical fable sees the actor don an unnerving papier mache head for the most part, a joyously quirky turn that eventually gives way to something genuinely moving.
Slow West (2015)
An offbeat Western about a naive boy searching for his lost love and the grizzled bounty hunter offering protection, this breathtaking horse opera gets a real note of conviction from Fassbender's gritty performance. Constantly toying with our sympathies, the actor demonstrates few can make unpredictability as interesting as he can.
We're running out of superlatives here but needless to say we're reserving some for Fassbender's moody and brilliant take on the Bard. The actor gets beneath the skin of Shakespeare's tragic character and adds layers of complexity, transforming him into the equivalent of a 12th century post-traumatic-stress sufferer. Is there anything he can't do?
Steve Jobs (2015)
Capping off a blinding year, Fassbender electrified once again with his abrasive and confrontational interpretation of the esteemed Apple visionary. Sidestepping the usual saintly biopic cliches to bring us a prickly, difficult look at the man behind the Mac, Fassbender is the processor who drives Danny Boyle's acclaimed movie.
Where do you think The Light Between Oceans is set to rank amidst Michael's remarkable filmography? Whilst you're thinking about that, don't forget to click here and retweet for your chance to win a signed film poster and novel.
Click here to book your tickets for The Light Between Oceans, out now in Cineworld.