Matthew McConaughey


In one corner, mighty Paramount’s $100 million movie with one of the world’s biggest stars and one of the most exciting films of the year.  In the other corner, the tiny Dallas Buyers Club which got made on a wing and a prayer, so lacking in funds they couldn’t even afford a lighting crew or lights.  It’s the kind of David and Goliath story that really can’t lose.  If you’re betting for an upset this year, I’m not sure betting against McConaughey, and Dallas Buyers Club, is the way to go.

Tom makes a good case, saying that so far Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey have not gone up against each other at a major awards show yet. DiCaprio was not nominated for a SAG award and McConaughey isn’t nominated for a BAFTA.  But also keep in mind, no actor has ever won the Oscar for Best Actor without a corresponding SAG nomination.  Best Actor is different from Supporting, though Tom’s general theory is right – there wasn’t enough time for Wolf to bake in SAG voters’ minds.  One thing seems clear to me, though, at both BAFTA and SAG American Hustle was far more popular.  BUT.

In all of Globes-SAG- Oscar history, only once has an actor beat the frontrunner and there were mitigating circumstances. In 2001, Russell Crowe was headed for his second Best Actor win. He was up against Denzel Washington who, as yet, had only won Supporting and had been shafted more often then rewarded.  Crowe had an altercation at the BAFTAs at exactly the wrong time.  Halle Berry was headed for her historic Best Actress win and in a twist no one could have predicted (except Roger Ebert and me) both Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won. A Beautiful Mind still won Best Picture but Crowe was left out in the cold.

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Film of the Year
American Hustle (Sony)
Blue is the Warmest Color (Sundance Selects)
Dallas Buyers Club (Focus)
Gravity (WB)
Her (WB)
Laurence Anyways (Breaking Glass)
12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight)

Film Performance of the Year – Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight)
James Franco, Spring Breakers (A24)
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyesr Club (Focus)
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club (Focus)
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Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Ensemble Cast: American Hustle



Screen Actors Guild TV winners after the cut.

Best Actress in a Drama Series: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Best Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cranston, Breaking Bad
Best Ensemble in a Drama Series: Breaking Bad
Best Actress in a Movie/MiniSeries: Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Best Actor in a Movie/MiniSeries: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Best Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Modern Family


We’ll leave the nominees listed in this post as a reminder of who the BFCA passed over in favor of the winners (noted in * bold).

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Inside Llewyn Davis
Saving Mr. Banks
* 12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
* Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost

* Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

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For Dolce and Gabbana.

We are brought up in America to trust voices of authority, especially if they’re wearing a doctor’s coat and have big important government agencies like the FDA behind them. We are taught to trust the medical industry because of course they have our best interests at heart. Our for-profit industry is supposedly the best in the world because it costs the most. That’s what the Republicans keep telling us, anyway, to weasel out of universal health care. The Dallas Buyers Club, a new film by Jean-Marc Vallee, shows what can happen when that system fails.

Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of a redneck homophobe, Ron Woodruff, who contracts HIV presumably from a prostitute. He doesn’t find out about it until he ends up in the ER for something unrelated. He resists the diagnosis because that’s something only “f—-” get. The coke, sex and alcoholic addicted Woodruff is told he has very little options except to wait around until the government does long term studies for AZT’s effectiveness. Oh, and he has around 30 days to live.
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When you look at the Best Actor race now it’s hard not to zero in on Matthew McConaughey, one of the hardest working actors in town (works hard, plays hard) and his upcoming physical transformation in Dallas Buyers Club.  Just from the pictures of the actor, who also turned in a notable performance in Mud (which has made upwards of $20 mil so far), it’s hard to imagine him not getting awards attention.  McConaughey is well liked in Hollywood and has been slowly building an impressive body of work after his early rise as the “next Paul Newman” to his jump to mainstream, then back to challenging himself with difficult roles in smaller films. He turned in three brilliant supporting performances last year and was completely overlooked.  He has never earned a single Oscar nomination. This might finally be his year.

His main competition in a very crowded Oscar race already, appears to be–

Known/seen contenders (forces to be reckoned with):
Robert Redford, All is Lost
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Forest Whitaker, The Butler
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station

Not seen but expected to be formidable:
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Benedict Cumberbatch, the Fifth Estate
Joaquin Phoenix, Her
Leonardo DiCaprio, Wolf of Wall Street
Josh Brolin, Oldboy

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The summer movie season heats up with two great performances in two very solid indies. Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’ and Matthew McConaughey in “Mud’. Finally, something to cheer about in a summer movie season lacking in ambitious thought.

In Noah Baumbach’s ‘Frances Ha” Greta Gerwig gives a performance that will surely be remembered by critics at years end. She’s so damn good as Frances, a 27 year old yuppie New York girl looking to find herself and refusing to let go of her dream as a professional dancer. This is a far cry from the “Sex And The City” females and more like the ones portrayed in Lena Dunham’s brilliant HBO series “Girls”. In fact, comparisons will be made just by the casting of “Girls” regular Adam Driver. It’s more than just that. Just like Dunham’s show, Frances Ha is the about the coming of age of women that have a hard time embarking in adulthood and just like that series’ best episodes there is an episodic uncomfortableness to Frances’ every day situations. At times you just cringe at the situations she puts herself in.

Gerwig -with her long wavy blonde hair and a clumsy posture- is spectacular in more ways than one. She brings realness to a character that could have easily delved deep into caricature. It doesn’t happen here. Instead Baumbach, in his best film since “The Squid And The Whale”, launches the career of a new star. Gerwig’s gestures, movements, facial expressions are spot on and make you fall for Frances – flaws and all. Her life is a confusing mess, while her best friend/roommate finds love and moves out. She is down on cash, single, awkward and in search of herself. She acts younger than her age, takes things one day at a time and doesn’t think much about the future. At some point living this way catches up to you. It caught up to me in my life and it caught up to many other late twenty somethings that I knew of. Baumbach’s character study doesn’t cozy up to any conventions. He speaks the truth for my generation and creates a sort of wake up call. Shot in beautiful black and white he proves that “The Squid And The Whale” was no fluke. With all that being said “Frances Ha” is the Greta Gerwig show, Oscar pay attention.

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The two things that ought to be remembered come Oscar time are probably the standout writing of Jeff Nichols as an American original, and the performance of Matthew McConaughey.

The New York Times’ AO Scott makes it a “Critic’s Pick,” writing:

The central image in “Mud,” Jeff Nichols’s deft and absorbing third feature, is of a boat in a tree. It’s the kind of phenomenon — a caprice of nature that is absurd but also wondrous — designed to enchant adventurous children like Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), two Arkansas boys who discover the boat on an overgrown island in the Mississippi River. They also discover the fellow who claims to own, or at least inhabit, the vessel, a leathery loner whose name is Mud.

Mud is played by Matthew McConaughey in the latest in a series of surprising, intense and often very funny performances following his escape from the commercial romantic-comedy penal colony. “Magic Mike,” “The Paperboy,” “The Lincoln Lawyer” and “Bernie” are all very different (and differently imperfect) movies, but in all of them, and in “Mud,” Mr. McConaughey commands attention with a variation on a certain kind of Southern character: handsome but battered, charming but also sinister, his self-confidence masking a history of bad luck and trouble.

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The year of the McConaughey continues with this news that:

Dallas Buyers Club, currently in post-production, has been acquired by Focus Features for domestic theatrical release in the second half of 2013. The company has also acquired Latin American rights to the feature. Focus CEO James Schamus and Focus president Andrew Karpen made the announcement today.

A Truth Entertainment production, Dallas Buyers Club is produced by Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter. Spirit Award winner Matthew McConaughey stars in the fact-based drama for director Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria). The film’s original screenplay is by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack.

In Dallas Buyers Club, Mr. McConaughey portrays real-life Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, an ordinary man who found himself in a life-or-death battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies. In 1986, Ron was blindsided by being diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. With the U.S. still internally divided over how to combat the virus and restricting medications, Ron grabbed hold of non-toxic alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. Seeking to avoid government sanctions against selling non-approved medicines and supplements, he established a “buyers club,” which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.


Mud is getting good early word of mouth, but specifically for Matthew McConoughey. The actor came close to getting an Oscar nod for last year’s trio of great performances – stealing the show in Bernie, Magic Mike and Killer Joe – but this year he looks to be up for lead for Mud.  There doesn’t seem to be any good reason why McConoughey has been continually overlooked for a single oscar nod.  When he first burst onto the scene he was hailed as the new Paul Newman. Perhaps that early praise made it harder for him to overcome the hype.  Maybe all of those romantic comedies made it harder for voters to take him seriously. That should not be a problem after last year’s work, and despite having a career for decades now his star is yet again on the rise with the upcoming films Wolf of Wall Street and Intersteller. And then there’s Dallas Buyers Club where McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a homophobic man who ends up dying of full blown AIDS. The actor’s startling weight loss will not be ignored.


Perhaps this is finally the moment when Oscar voters will catch up to what critics have known for some time about what McConoughey can do.

David Edelstein writes:

But the moral universe of Mud is settled. The parallels between young Ellis and young-at-heart Mud are tidy, and when the film introduces Mud’s ex-­military father figure Blankenship (Sam Shepard) and the old man tells Mud he’ll have to dig himself out of his own mess this time, you kinda-sorta know Blankenship will come back into the picture the way similar patriarchs do in the bonehead action movies that Mud suddenly looks like. (A posse of bad guys comes to town led by Joe Don Baker, whose character Mud likens to “Old Scratch.”)

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1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. There might not be another actor alive who would devote many months just to find Lincoln’s voice. Fewer still who could take what history told us about him, subtract the multitude of falsely deep Lincoln voices because they sounded “more important” and give us the real Lincoln via his unusual and less familiar voice. He was going to take some shit for this choice, as no one was ready to accept a Lincoln with that voice. Take on its own in isolated clips it might at first have sounded  a little strange, but when you witness Day-Lewis immersed in Lincoln’s totality, the actor vanishes. The voice comes alive with thoughtfulness, and that unmistakable color of sadness that Lincoln carried around with him since he was young, when his mother and then his sister died. Somehow Day-Lewis knew how to capture that sadness. He knew that Lincoln was weary — from the war, from the burden of doing what was a right at a time when there opposing forces seemed insurmountable — and weary from his wife’s mercurial disposition, crying or raging, depending on the day or the haunting.

Day-Lewis has captured so much in one breathtaking turn that this becomes, maybe, a bar to which all others might aspire. His head hung to one side, his tall person’s slouch, his lopsided walk. That any group would award someone else for the prize of best performance only illuminates, in many ways, Day-Lewis’ unequivocal work. They can’t say he wasn’t good enough. They can only say they’d like someone else to have a chance to share the spotlight with him. If Oscars are meant to be given out as career achievements, Day-Lewis would easily and handily win his third Oscar. We all know that the Oscars, despite their intentions, do not always award the best. But history should remember Day-Lewis, whether they give him a gold statue for it or not.

The supporting players: Sally Field – for her astonishing work as Mary Todd Lincoln Field gained some weight and reseacrhed the extensive first-hand historical record, as any great actress would, to find out that Mary Lincoln possessed a fiery intelligence, shared a love for reading with her husband, and didn’t have much else to do back then but stand by her man. Field captures Mary Lincoln’s craziness, unending grief and inner battle with depression so well it makes you long for the days when you had to be this good to get into movies. Tommy Lee Jones brings with him the great memory of Thaddeus Stevens, and perhaps the best moment of his role is the conflicted scene when he has to support the notion of freeing slaves but knows he must withhold his feelings in agreeing that they’re equal in all terms. He does this through his teeth, against everything he believes in — but he does it because he knows that tearing down an old sturdy wall is done brick by brick. Other wonderful turns in Lincoln include James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the great Gloria Reuben as Elizabeth Keckley, self-freed slave who became an author.

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Matthew McConaughey emerged gaunt and thinned down for his work in The Dallas Buyer’s Club where he plays an electrician “diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and ends up saving his own life with a series of alternative medicines that he trundles into the country from Mexico.”

He is said to have lost 30 pounds.

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Martin Scorsese’s adds another alpha male to the wolf pack. Matthew McConaughey will play Mark Hanna, mentor of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The greasy tale of Wall Street corruption also features Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Margot Robbie, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler and Jon Bernthal. The Wolf of Wall Street is adapted from Belfort’s memoir by Terry Winter who’s written over 40 episodes of The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. It’s scored by Howard Shore and shot by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, hot off Ben Affleck’s Argo. If you need another reason to be happy: Thelma Schoonmaker.

Matthew McConaughey is having a very good year. He jacked Magic Mike’s heat even hotter with a tight showstopping supporting role. Appears alongside Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in The Paperboy for Lee Daniels. (Lets be lenient count that as a plus in the “good year” for now). In a few months, HBO will broadcast 8 episodes of True Detective, featuring the ultimate cool-dude dream-team of McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

But McConaughey most significant role this year by far is certainly his star-turn as Joe Cooper a cop who moonlights as a contract killer. We ran two clips from William Friedkin’s NC-17 thriller, Killer Joe back in May but they didn’t last long online. That post has been updated today with better embeds. Worth clicking back since we were all in a Cannes state of mind when the rattlesnake tail for Killer Joe we just beginning to rattle. Will the movie be too raw for polite Academy society. Maybe. Look at last year’s Ramparts with Harrelson. Or maybe not. Look at Denzel and Training Day.

Also in the pipeline for Matthew McConaughey is Mud — with Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon and Sam Shepard William — directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter). Landing a string slamdunks is an excellent way to make yourself impossible to ignore. William Friedkin talks about Killer Joe after the cut. We need to be listening.

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This marks the second time William Friedkin and Tracy Letts have collaborated together, the first time being for the 2006 film, BUG (both films were adapted from Letts’ stage plays by the same name). BUG won the FIPRESCI prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

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