Nominated for Best Actor (Michael Fassbender) at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet) at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Mostly dismissed by movie audiences upon its autumn release, count me in the corner that believes that this could be renowned director Danny Boyle’s finest film. For 122 minutes, Boyle sheds himself of most of his “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008 Best Picture winner) and “127 Hours” (2010 Best Picture nominee) excesses, and simply pinpoints focus on one socially flawed genius–and creates a riveting film. I loved “Steve Jobs”.
Of course, it hardly hurts to have the Oscar-nominated Michael Fassbender in the lead role. He’s brilliant in this, and his subtle, exacting work is my absolute favorite of the five Best Actor nominees. He’s not going to stop the Leo Express, but if anyone should, it’s this chameleon-like, handsome European–who is absolutely riveting throughout. And Fassbender, along with Aaron Sorkin’s terrific screenplay, doesn’t deign to make Jobs a nice guy. It pays off tremendously by film’s end.
Also commendable (and, for a portion, unrecognizable) is Best Supporting Actress nominee, Kate Winslet as Jobs’ confidant, Joanna Hoffman. Yeah, that accent wavered from time-to-time, but Ms. Winslet is an exceptional performer, and she spars equally with Mr. Fassbender’s Jobs. Seth Rogen and Michael Stuhlbarg are strong as Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfeld, respectively. And Jeff Daniels is effective as one-time Apple CEO, John Sculley. Plus, a special shout out to Makenzie Moss and Ripley Sobo, who are are quite good as Steve Jobs’ daughter, Lisa. Miss Moss as a five-year-old, and Miss Sobo portraying Lisa at nine.
In focusing on three key moments in the career of the computer guru, “Steve Jobs” proves to be a highly unconventional biography, as well. Bravo to that. We start in 1984, on the heels of the release of the legendary, Orwellian Macintosh Super Bowl commercial. For part 2, it’s 1988, and Jobs is launching the NeXT computer, after the failure of the Macintosh 512K. After that, we are transported to 1998, and the exciting introduction of the revolutionary iMac personal computer. Slowly, steadily, in the hands of the mesmerizing Fassbender, we witness Steve Jobs change the world. And the difficult, and “poorly made” man is humanized, through his troubled relationship with his daughter, Lisa, in all three sections. It’s a fascinating plot-driving device.
I don’t expect “Steve Jobs” to win either acting award come Oscar night. But it’s sad that audiences were so reticent to see this while it was in theaters. Hey, I’ve been sick and tired of hearing about Steve Jobs for the last few years too. It seems that since his tragic 2011 passing, you couldn’t turn around without hearing about how influential he was, or stumbling across another book, television special or documentary about him. But this Danny Boyle creation is the real deal, and I wish it a long life on home video. Treat it as you will, but it is decidedly NOT poorly made.
next review up: “Truth”