The best picture win for
But, in a larger sense, it was a highly unexpected turn for the producer-director, who just six years ago was an acclaimed provocateur artist in his native Britain who had never made a feature film. Even immensely talented directors can pay decades of dues before landing on the Oscar podium (see under: the Coen Bros), but McQueen has gotten there in what in movie terms is the bat of an eye.
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Quickly, though, the film -- about the IRA activist Bobby Sands’ famous prison hunger strike in 1980 -- began gaining buzz, some of the intestinal fortitude variety. The film contained a single 18-minute take of Sands (
Soon many were recommending the movie, and it gained an art house cachet. Several years later, at the
“Why do I want to do all this with Steve?" Fassbender said to me in an interview upon the release of the film. "Because what's massively evident and refreshing about [him] is that he has no rule book about making a film. He'll never rule anything out."
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Or as producer Iain Canning said: "Steve combines an incredibly creative instinct with an ability to ask 'Why is something done that way? Why do we have to do it that way?'"
Talking to McQueen, one quickly found a forthright, if occasionally prickly, subject, willing to take and discuss risks many seasoned filmmakers weren't. His decision for single takes, often held uncomfortably long (the Patsy whipping scene in “12 Years,” which in its way was foreshadowed by
Since "12 Years" came out, film fans have been admiring the audacity of the movie and its conceit -- a beautifully shot film about the brutal subject of slavery. Visionary as it is, this kind of filmmaking comes with a degree of meticulousness. "Not a detail escapes Steve's attention," Fassbender laughed to me at Toronto this year when I recalled a comment McQueen had once made to me in which he said (somewhat) jokingly that I misunderstood a shade of meaning in a previous interview.
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The at-times officious director didn’t let his guard down much on the award-season circuit, but after a somewhat nervous speech accepting the picture prize Sunday, he stepped away from the mike and offered a joyous few jumps that could have come right out of a vintage music video.
Backstage, he acknowledged how strange a journey it has been, and how that led to an unscripted moment with a refreshingly un-Oscars feel.
"I mean everyone's talking about the jump, but it's just really truly, I was just so ecstatic, so happy for us all," he said. "And, you know, it's one of those moments in life where it might not ever happen again. It's not a dream. It's a reality. So emotions, physicality just takes over. So, you know,