Right now, Michael Fassbender leads the competition in the Best Actor category as the title character in “Steve Jobs.” The German-Irish actor owns the best odds to win (13/5), according to the latest predix by our professional Oscar mavens. He has the backing of 10 of these 22 experts who cover this beat year-round for major media including Variety, USA Today and Huffington Post.
The biggest glitch the past Oscar nominee (Best Supporting Actor for “12 Years a Slave”) faces is Jobs fatigue. The movie got rapturous reviews, hinged on the testosterone-driven triumvirate of Fassbender’s performance, Aaron Sorkin‘s screenplay and Danny Boyle‘s direction. But it disappointed at the box office when it went wide, earning $7.3 million.
After Ashton Kutscher 2013 “Jobs” drama and Alex Gibney‘s 2015 documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” the general audience may have had whatever interest they had in the brilliant but prickly Apple founder’s life sated.
On the plus side, Oscar no longer only wants heroic role-models as Best Actor — and that describes Fassbender’s Jobs. In the last decade, the Oscars embraced hard-to-hug bullies like Matthew McConnaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club,” outright anti-heroes like Daniel Day Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” and genocidal villains like Forest Whitaker‘s Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.”
Another strong plus for Fassbender: the role is based upon a real-life character like 7 out of the last 10 winners (8 if you admit that Day-Lewis is really portraying oil tycoon Edward Doheny instead of the fictionalized “Daniel Plainview” in “There Will Be Blood”). That includes current rival Eddie Redmayne, who scored last year’s Best Actor for portraying Steven Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” McConnaughey’s Ron Woodroof, and Daniel Day-Lewis as “Lincoln.”
But, beware: Fassbender has admitted publicly he’s not going begging for a statuette. That could hurt him as much as the box office numbers. A very passive campaigner, the actor appears for interviews and select events but has been MIA at most critical L. A. screenings.
Fassbender despises doing certain promotional activities – so he simply doesn’t.
He doesn’t get the rules of the Oscar game – or if he does, he’s not playing. In contrast, Fassbender’s co-star Kate Winslet, not a natural campaigner herself, can work any room. She has come to understand her role on the tightrope of the campaign circus.
And if any more proof that campaigning matters is required ask last year’s loser Michael Keaton. The “Birdman” star famously surrendered to Redmayne. The British charmer pulled off a victory after tub-thumping shrewdly across Hollywood for months, kissing every baby and opening every car wash en route. Keaton won’t make that mistake again when he’s up this year in the Best Supporting Actor category for “Spotlight.”
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Photo: Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs.” Credit: Universal