Matthew McConaughey shares the frontrunner’s spot currently with another bravura performance, Chewetel Ejiofor’s in 12 Years a Slave. McConaughey comes to the race as one of the best actors never to be nominated for an Oscar.
He began his career being touted as the next Paul Newman. After that he would have to prove it, which took several decades. He is always challenging himself, always taking on interesting projects. But this year, with three roles in widely diverse films he seems to have reached a kind of career high. He began the year with Mud, and will end it with Wolf of Wall Street. But in between he lost 47 pounds to play Ron Woodruff in The Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey is unrecognizable in the role, withered, gaunt, afraid once he must deal with having contracted HIV in atmosphere of homophobia. The film is about that, on the one hand – how those afflicted with HIV and AIDS were prejudiced against. But it also about how the medical community dragged its feet and went hunting for a profit while people were dying.
McConaughey and Ejiofor will likely go head to head for the early critics awards. Both are likable characters, though Ejiofor will gain heat for starring in what is the currently perceived Oscar frontrunner.