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How McConaughey won the Oscar for best actor

By Zach Lederman
On March 10, 2014

About ten years ago, if you had suggested that Matthew McConaughey might win an Oscar for Best Actor someday, people would have probably looked at you like you were crazy. "The guy who starred in "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days?" they would have asked you. So how is it that a man who nobody took seriously, filming romantic comedies like "Fool's Gold" and "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" won the most coveted acting award in the industry? To this, I say it is time for an exploration into the ghosts of Matthew McConaughey's acting past.
McConaughey first hit the acting scene eighteen years ago in "Dazed and Confused," a coming-of-age film for which McConaughey was highly praised. He quickly rose to stardom, acting in seven more films over the span of the next three years, including "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "A Time to Kill" and "Angels in the Outfield." The roles he performed during this time were varied and all relatively minor.
It was in the early 2000's that it seemed as though McConaughey finally found his niche in the romantic comedy and action film genres. Things kicked off with "The Wedding Planner" in 2001, in which he starred alongside Jennifer Lopez (who was apparently making movies in 2001). The film was a box office success, but received low reviews across the board. This was quickly followed by more rom-coms, including the aforementioned "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," "Failure to Launch" and the absolutely terrible "Tiptoes."
McConaughey also found roles in the occasional action film or non-romantic comedy, typically playing the handsome, lazy-yet-lovable hero of the film, with roles in "Sahara," "Fool's Gold" and the highly praised "Tropic Thunder." Up until this point, it's pretty easy to see that McConaughey had been typecasted. The industry looked at him as a handsome face with no real acting ability that they could use whenever they needed him.
But something happened that the industry did not expect. In 2006, McConaughey played the starring role in "We Are Marshall," a drama that told the true story of the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed most of Marshall University's football team, as well as its coaches and administrators. This, to most, seemed to be McConaughey's first real foray into a new genre and while he won no awards for the role, he was praised.
I wonder then, if this is the role that set McConaughey on a new path. He took a two-year hiatus from acting in 2009 after the conclusion of the last romantic comedy he has acted in to date, "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," and since then has taken on primarily dramatic roles. As a result, he has been nominated for 68 awards in the span of three years and won 38 of them, including Best Actor for his role in "Dallas Buyer's Club." He was decidedly praised for his role in the 2012 coming-of-age/drama "Mud," as well as his role in the comedy/drama "Magic Mike" in the same year. His part in the Best Picture nominee, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is also notable.
During this period, he did also act in two black-comedy films, "Bernie" in 2011, and "Killer Joe" in 2012. He was highly praised for both roles and nominated for a total of 11 awards between the two films.
Matthew McConaughey is showing the film industry, the fans and the world that he is not just a pretty face (not that he's ugly, of course). He is an incredibly talented actor who clearly is capable of playing a wide variety of roles. If he needs to be funny, he can be funny. If he needs to be serious, then he can be serious. I was absolutely blown away by his roles in "Mud" and "Dallas Buyer's Club" and cannot wait to see where McConaughey's career leads him. If he keeps this up, he will undoubtedly put his past behind him and go down in history as one of the greats.
 


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