It’s no secret that Michael Fassbender has become one of the most respected, sought-after new faces to hit Hollywood in the last ten years. The guy went from supporting face to leading man in record time, and is now looked at as being the sort of talent who will raise your movie to a whole other level if you manage to land him. If you’ve been following his career so far, then you know that a big reason for his success is the work he’s done with director Steve McQueen on his features Hunger and Shame. McQueen, a visual artist turned film director, has a unique style and a patient camera that’s well-suited to showing off an actor’s performance, and it was largely the work Fassbender did in his films that opened up eyes all over the industry to what he was capable of if given a meaty role.
While Hunger was mostly the Michael Fassbender show, Shame added Carey Mulligan to the mix, and gave her a platform to remind us how talented she is as well. If McQueen has proven anything with his first two features, and unquestionably he’s proven a lot, it’s that he works well with actors. He gets what makes them special, and he gets how to shine a spotlight on that specialness. The point of all this is that his third film, Twelve Years a Slave, should be pretty damned spectacular.
Not only does it see McQueen once again working with his trusted right hand in Fassbender, but it also sees him, for the first time really, putting a whole army of first-rate actors together to create an ensemble cast. In addition to Fassbender, Twelve Years a Slave features performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Garret Dillahunt, Sarah Paulson, Scoot McNairy, Ruth Negga, Alfre Woodard, Michael K. Williams, and The Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis. That’s a heck of a lot of talent to show off. McQueen is going to need a lot of spotlights.
We’ve reported on Twelve Years a Slave before though, none of this is new news, and we already know the basic story it’s going to tell, that of a free man named Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) who is kidnapped from New York and sent to the south to live as a slave. But what we haven’t known until it was just announced [via ComingSoon], is that Fox Searchlight has stepped in to handle distribution for the film, and they plan on releasing it right in that end of the year, awards-seeking sweet spot of December 27. Not only does this mean that we’ve got another potentially awesome movie that we get to watch in 2013, but it also means that the cast list in the previous paragraph has a danged good chance of closely resembling the nominees for the actor and actress awards at next year’s Oscar ceremony. If you add the fact that they’re putting out a film that looks this great at the end of the calendar year with yesterday’s news that they’re also going to be distributing Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and might be able to get it out in 2013 as well, then it starts to become hard to argue that Fox Searchlight have set themselves up to be the MVPs of 2013. Good on them for continuing to bring us good stuff.