Imagine DaVinci's 'Vitruvian Man' but he's named Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey is somewhat of a magic touch in Hollywood today. Everything he has acted in over the past few years has been a stunning hit — whether it be an indie flick from an up-and-coming director like “Mud” or brand-name Oscar ambitious film like “Dallas Buyers Club.” The 45-year-old king of chill is hitting his stride, and with "Interstellar" around the corner, it’s hard not to wonder if this hot streak is going to persist.
McConaughey has always been one of the coolest guys in Hollywood. His role in “Dazed and Confused” at the beginning of his career is testament enough — his role as the older guy who hung out with the high school kids still holds cultural salience today. This role should be considered the “genesis” of the McConaughey brand.
He would go on to star in several other films, that all played to his strengths, as a “cool guy.” In general, this is how Hollywood grooms its chosen ones. Ben Affleck has followed a similar pattern, starring in and co-creating the breakout indie film “Good Will Hunting” and going on to star in several roles that put him in the “good-looking, strong guy” position. McConaughey and Affleck even had some crossover during their ascensions, both playing roles in “Glory Daze.”
Sadly, being Hollywood’s chosen one during from 2001 to 2008 can land you in the existential tunnel of love, so to speak. After the McConaughey name made its way around all the studios, the industry decided it was time for the young Texan to use his charm and good looks to capture the hearts of the Rom-Com market.
Starring in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Sahara,” McConaughey took a sharp turn toward the bottom. These would be the first of a number of movies that would put McConaughey in talks for Razzies, awards for the worst of the year, versus the sought-after Oscar conversation. This downward spiral would reach its nadir when McConaughey starred in “Surfer, Dude” which is exactly what it sounds like: a tan man Matt riding the waves of life.
Something happened around 2008, however. Despite having starred in a slew of cinematic failures, the world never fell out of love with McConaughey. What we would see in the years following this steep decline is a dramatic resurgence of career.
It’s up for debate when the “McConnaissance” really started. Some peers say it began with “The Lincoln Lawyer,” while some want to wait a bit longer and say Richard Linklater’s “Bernie.” Personally, I think the groundwork started during the dark ages.
Like any phase of artistic expression, it always serves as a reaction to the previous way of doing things. McConaughey’s career is no different — the actor we see today is a direct reaction to everything that came before it. Thus, I think it was his minor role in Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder” that really kick-started the last few years.
Oddly enough, it came out just before “Surfer, Dude” in 2008, but his hysterical role as an over-the-top talent agent absolutely saved his career. With his minor part, “Tropic Thunder” reminded the world of what McConaughey is capable of — that he is interested in making good movies, and will play a side role to do so. It may seem small, but even the smallest gesture from an actor that hints he is interested in making more than a paycheck inspires hope in fans everywhere.
In 2011, McConaughey started on a total hot streak, and it’s hard to see an end. This is dubbed the “McConnaissance” by various couch-potato culture critics who take the time out of their day to think of these things. It’s a time when the expectations are increasingly high with each picture, but they are satisfied and then some each time.
Although I am excited for Christopher Nolan’s latest, “Interstellar,” a potential sci-fi film for the ages, it seems to have all the bells and whistles for the end of the McConaughey era. It’s big, expensive and hyped to an astonishing high level — a big risk with big potential gain.
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