Michael Fassbender did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Connor in Fish Tank.
All of the performances by Michael Fassbender that I have reviewed have been directed by Steve McQueen and have resulted in particularly intense and emotional performances. This film is not directed by Steve McQueen and in turn results in far more casual performance from Fassbender as he portrays a seemingly average guy who is the new boyfriend of Mia's mother Joanne(Kierston Wareing). Although he is the mother's boyfriend he attempts to befriend Mia her daughter as well as her younger daughter at the same time. Early on it is certainly interesting to Fassbender in a rather different situation as Connor appears to want to bond with the family.
Fassbender is very good in frankly downplaying his usual intensity and giving a natural portrayal of a different sort of role. What Fassbender does best is just how particularly charming he is in these scenes. Fassbender makes Connor's reactions with the family feel genuine and most of all he has the right charisma in the part. It is not overpowering in nature but Fassbender is very good in showing exactly why everyone would be so taken with Connor early on. He's supremely likable here but what is key is that he has the charm of a rapscallion. Fassbender naturally suggests that Connor probably is far from perfect to begin with, but he basically is able to show why the family basically could ignore the red flags about him.
Connor develops a seemingly strong relationship with Mia. Fassbender again plays these scenes very well by just ever so slightly side stepping what Connor's intentions are exactly. On one hand Fassbender brings some warmth which Fassbender cleverly even show is genuine, Connor even goes so far as to seemingly support Mia's dream of dancing. On the other there is a constant flirtatious manner in their interjections yet again Fassbender does not overplay his hand. To a certain extent Fassbender suggests that Connor could merely be just the way he is and it could be just his harmless way of interacting with people. That ends up not really being the case one night after Connor and Mia's mother had been drinking, and later Connor and Mia are left alone together.
Connor proceeds to have sex with Mia although Fassbender again plays the scene well by not turning Connor into a monster, but rather portraying him as a man who has do something wrong in the heat of the moment. Connor instantly regrets the decision and Fassbender again does well by showing Connor's guilt to genuine particularly since he changes Connor's attitude for the rest of his performance. All the cheer and charm really as Connor interacts completely differently and Fassbender makes it obvious that what he has done has changed Connor. Once again though he does a great balancing act though letting it be seen two ways one being that Connor honestly regrets what he has done, and the other being he is merely sorry for what could happen to him because of it.
Fassbender gives a very good performance here because he does frankly mix it up a bit. This is a far less intense of a work than so many of his performances but Fassbender proves here that he deinfetely can dial it back when he needs to. His Connor is never just a single element with his character and all the revelation feel believable through his performance in almost every sense. He properly alludes to what will come as he should by really letting the revelations in plain sight, but just being just so charming that he kinda makes you ignore the warning. In doing that he also makes the whole set up of the family buying into believable because of his how well he realizes this particularly cad.
It is a bit of shame that despite its large ensemble which contains several performances worthy of mention they were all completely overshadowed by Christoph Waltz's performance as Hans Landa. Waltz is indeed worthy of the praise he received, but the other strong performances in the film should not have been ignored either. One of these performances belongs to Michael Fassbender who plays the role of the main representation of the British in the film who is sent into Germany to infiltrate and sabotage the screening of a German propaganda film which will be attended by most of the German high command. Another belongs to Diehl who plays a bit of a hitch in that plan.
Fassbender appears in only three scenes total the first being when he is given the details about the mission and quizzed on his knowledge of German cinema by the British high command, that is distinctly British to be sure just like Fassbender's performance. Fassbender purposefully puts on a somewhat extreme accent to be sure, and although he has not proven it to be his forte yet, as evidenced by The Counselor, here he handles it quite well. It is George Sanders esque on purpose and Fassbender even gives it a slightly comic tinge to it which is pretty well done. It technically sightly broad on purpose yet Fassbender never goes too far with it rather just using it quite well to establish his character well, and it fits the style Quentin Tarantino establishes.
Fassbender, in the briefing scene,and the scene where he meets the basterds, goes for the classic style of the very proper British soldier and he does it quite well. Again like his accent his mannerisms and method are at least slightly humorous in style which make both of the scene quite entertaining yet he never goes overboard that it would compromise his character for his major scene that comes after the first two. August Diehl on the other hand has only two scenes one being just a very quick introduction where Diehl is allowed to do very little other than to be there. He is simply introduced and one could easily forget him not that it is his fault rather that's simply all major Dieter Hellstrom gets before he appears once again in his scene with Fassbender.
The two meet when Lieutenant Hicox and two of the basterds go to meet their double agent German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) in a tavern. Things seem to be going okay until the hidden Gestapo agent Hellstrom notices's something is wrong with Hicox's accent. Fassbender once again handles the accent particularly well by giving a purposefully off delivery of the accent that does not sound quite right. Fassbender's accent he uses is perfect really as it is off, but in such a completely natural fashion. Diehl makes his impact quickly bringing a substantial menace from the instance we see him and he has that same sort of incisiveness in his performance that Christoph Waltz has in his.
Fassbender and Diehl are excellent together as they both play the game Hicox's and Hellstrom are playing so well. Both are pretending to be calm and casual yet both know there is nothing to be calm about in this situation. Fassbender and Diehl both are terrific in putting on the fake smiles of both men yet subtly suggest what lies underneath. Fassbender's uses eyes brilliantly as Hicox is always carefully watching Hellstrom's every move, and in turn Diehl comes back in that after every playful remark he gives there is this chilling glance he gives suggesting the moment in which Hellstrom is looking for a weakness in their story. Both actors slowly build the intensity of the scene until Hicox's final slip up.
The slightly slip up of Hicox is an amazing moment for Diehl as his reaction is perfect as we see the inquisitor fully reveal himself. Fassbender not to be outdone matches well with Hicox also cutting so quickly through the false pretense of the situation also revealing that Hicox is not to be outsmarted either. Both find themselves as basically the first targets in a fire fight and both actors are incredible in the depiction of their final moments. Fassbender is great and just plain cool in bringing out the British in Hicox once more as he keeps that proper manner right before ordering Hellstrom, and in turn his own death. Diehl is equally excellent as he keeps his almost demonic demeanor but with the slight fear in his own eyes knowing that he will be dying soon.
Both actors give very strong performances that honestly made me wish we had gotten to see more of both Hicox and Hellstrom since Fassbender and Diehl excel so well in their roles. In fact I would say if for some reason Christoph Waltz had not existed Diehl probably would have been a great choice in the larger role of Hans Landa as well. Nevertheless the two just get to be two one scene wonders within the film, and the both make the most of what they have. The two of them individually give memorable work and realize the characters wonderfully even with their short amount of screen time. Together they go even further creating such a fantastic dynamic that builds the suspense of the scene incredibly well, and aid in turning their scene into one of the strongest moments of the film.