And like not many careers, there’s an Oscar in the middle of it.
7 | Magic Mike (2012). Dir. Steven Soderbergh
Firstly, it makes sense to address McConaughey’s chest. In Magic Mike, McConaughey plays a stripper named Dallas who wears a Crocodile Dundee number, seems to parody masculinity and thrives on his body and the spectacle of stripping. Magic Mike, however, focuses on Channing Tatum’s decision to leave the stripping industry and ultimately not end up like his boss, Dallas.
6 | EdTV (1999). Dir. Ron Howard
EdTV could have been viewed as a rip off of The Truman Show, which came a full year earlier and had the remarkably similar premise of a man’s life being filmed by a TV crew. But while Ed, played by McConaughey, knows he’s on TV, Truman (Jim Carrey) is ignorant for the most part. Ed is your everyday battler and the quintessential reality star we’ve unfortunately come to know so well. This is a funny, media savvy, even cynical film and if you wanna see McConaughey and Harrelson together again, this is worth a watch.
5 | Dallas Buyer Club(2012). Dir. Jean- Marc Vallèe
While Dallas Buyer Club was more your typical ‘Oscar bait’ piece, there’s no denying that McConaughey is in fine form, and certainly earned his Oscar. He shed an enormous amount of weight and it’s quite confronting to see McConaughey so skinny. He plays Ron Woodroff, a homophobe who becomes HIV positive and turns to activism.
4 | Tropic Thunder (2008). Dir. Ben Stiller
This is a hilarious spoof on the action genre and the structures of Hollywood productions. Who can forget the man himself, as the tanned Los Angeles agent, Rick Peck. Peck has permed looking hair and fields calls whilst playing the Nintendo Wii. Peck is only a minor character but adds to the full blown ridiculousness of the film.
3 | Killer Joe (2011). Dir. William Friedkin
McConaughey plays Joe, a sinister but appealing detective with a crooked background that forces himself on the childlike Dotti (Juno Temple). Killer Joe is a tangle of corruptions, enhanced through its trashy aesthetics and trashy characters.
2 | Mud (2012). Dir. Jeff Nichols
He goes by the name of Mud and is the perfect mix of a social outcast and father figure. Mud wears linen, eats canned food and lives as a recluse. McConaughey may take his top off for one scene but there is no denying that Mud is a great character study that builds tension and symbolism, not to forget its great use of the Beach Boys classic song, Help Me Ronda.
1 | Dazed and Confused(1993). Dir. Richard Linklater
Hands down the best McConaughey role and proof that he started his career well. McConaughey plays David Wooderson a sleazy pothead in his early twenties with a much younger Texan drawl who hangs around with school types and loves those redheads. Dazed and Confused is a fantastic coming of age film and for the true McConaughey fans out there, this is what started the whole “ alright, alright, alright” business.