Well, alright, alright. Matthew McConaughey is Oscar-bound.
How do I know the shirtless, slow-talking, bongo-beating, dimple-flashing actor is a soon-to-be Academy Award winner? Believe it or not, there is actual award buzz for his supporting turn in Strippers Ahoy! or whatever it’s called…Magic Mike is it? *Innocent wide eyes* Plus he was just invited to become an official Oscar voter. But there’s more to it than that. More signs of legitimacy for this guy whose bad taste in roles (and much debated capacity to, um, act) has been lampooned by everyone from Family Guy to, oh, every blogger whose ever written a “Worst Actors Ever” list.
He does however have eight billion (or six) Teen Choice Awards and two Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. He’s been to the youth soccer league of awards shows and STILL didn’t get a trophy.
No, Matthew McConaughey is showing the classic signs of pre-Oscar behavior. No better time than opening week for his latest movie (and his 900th flick this summer alone) Killer Joe to face up to the fact: Matthew McConaughey is about to get really legit.
Sign #1: He’s taking a big risk.
Killer Joe, which opens Friday (July 27) is not only NC-17, it’s about a gunslinging, revenge-seeking, mama-splattering trailer park terror. It’s so brimming with sex and carnage that, in the wake of last week’s tragic mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, what might have been a “Hey, did you see that?” is becoming a “Hey, did you hear about that?” movie. Meaning it’s going to get more attention, more buzz, and more positive reviews from people who’ll never see it than anything McConaughey has ever done. Plus, he’s working with Oscar-winning director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection). That’s the sort of break from rom-com roots that made Tom Hanks a two-time Oscar winner. And just ask Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voigt: starring in a buzzy controversial NC-17 (back then it was X) can make you Oscar fodder faster than you can say Midnight Cowboy.
Sign #2: His greatest role to date was miniscule.
One of the best things about Matthew McConaughey eventually winning an Oscar? The guarantee that at least one red carpet reporter will say, “Do you have an Oscar? Be a lot cooler if ya did.” McConaughey’s creepy, sleepy Wooderson is what people remember and love most about 1993 stoner comedy Dazed and Confused. And yet the then-UT Austin student was onscreen for a matter of minutes. Little screen time. Incredibly memorable. It totally spells Oscar. See: Judi Dench’s win for playing Queen Elizabeth for a hot minute in Shakespeare in Love.
Sign #3: He’s shrinking.
McConaughey was recently photographed looking more gaunt than gallant.
It turns out his 30-pound weight loss was to play an HIV-positive patient in The Dallas Buyer’s Club. De Niro, Bale, Zellwegger. Oscar loves an actor willing to change his or her shape for a role.
Sign #4: He IS Michael Caine.
Aw, Michael Caine. You love him. You remember him accepting his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Cider House Rules, taking time to individually celebrate each of his fellow nominees. He was the regal patriarch of the Academy. The gentleman. The artist. The guy who used to be a colossal joke in Hollywood for agreeing to star in everything but the school play. To those of us under 40, Caine is an established credible dude. Batman’s classy butler. To our parents, he was that guy with the cockney accent who starred in James Bond parodies and Blame It On Rio (worst. ever). He was a decent looking guy with a funny voice who made some serious films early on but would take anything for a paycheck and didn’t seem to give a damn if people thought he was a joke. Sound familiar?
Wait. Does this mean he’ll someday be Sir Matthew? Well, alright, alright.
Sign #5: He’s taking interesting supporting roles.
Okay, some emcee of a male stripper revue is interesting-ish but he did, I’ve heard, steal the show. And if you didn’t see the criminally-underrated Bernie (spring 2012) starring Jack Black, you missed a chance to see McConaughey do his best, “Hey…is that Matthew McConaughey?” turn as a D.A. with a bone to pick with the most popular murderer in town. With roles like this or as the world’s worst agent in Tropic Thunder, McConaughey is showing he doesn’t need to be center stage, play the hero, or play the scamp you wish would settle down with Jennifer Garnhudsonwegerparker in this week’s inoffensive rom com. You know what happens when you show that? You get better roles in smaller films. Oscar. Gold.
I’m actually excited by this turn of events. Okay, so he seems one-note (maybe it’s the accent, which is hard to hide). And, yes, he skated on his good looks for awhile. But I actually like Matthew McConaughey. He’s entertaining. He’s devil-may-care. He seems like someone who deserves his success. And I’d like to seem him get a little Oscar glory for his trouble.
He just may want to call Oscar before he goes to the ceremony. It seems likely they’d show up wearing the same thing.