Steve McQueen

Best movies: Hunger (2008), Shame (2011)

You can’t open an entertainment magazine or visit a gossip blog these days without seeing Michael Fassbender’s name multiple times; inarguably 2011’s breakout actor, the Irish-German soon-to-be-A-lister hit all quadrants last year, winning over comic book nerds in X-Men: First Class, amassing period movie credibility in both Jane Eyre and A Dangerous Method, and staking his Oscar nominee claim as a sex addict in Shame. What makes the exceptional Shame more important than the others, though, is its director/co-writer: Steve McQueen. Why? Because without McQueen, those aforementioned mags and websites most likely wouldn’t even know that Fassbender exists.

Hunger, McQueen’s visceral, prison-set 2008 debut, ushered in a startlingly gifted new director for critics to gush over, but it also introduced folks to Mr. Fassbender, the Robert De Niro to McQueen’s Martin Scorsese, if you will. And even though the actor is now officially a primetime player thanks to Shame, he’s not about to disrupt his working chemistry with this here filmmaker: Later this year, the duo will team up once again to shoot 12 Years A Slave, joined by the terrific Chiwetel Ejiofor and a promising up-and-comer named Brad Pitt.