Top 10 Films – Matthew McConaughey

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List compiled by Eddie on 11/12/2015

From forgettable rom-coms to Oscar winning dramas, modern day Texan cowboy Matthew McConaughey has had a bumpy yet memorable career as a Hollywood player and a career you suspect is only really just delivering on it’s true promise.

One of the rare modern day leading man actors that still possesses the charm and charisma of the golden age stalwarts (most evident in last year’s Interstellar) McConaughey has the rare ability to be both heroic yet every day and despite his overabundance of good looks, he isn’t afraid to delve into the darker characters of life in films like Killer Joe or his most individually applauded turn in Dallas Buyers Club.

Picking a top 10 list of films for McConaughey isn’t easy as his best are quite quality but it’s also evident that his picked some true stinkers (Surfer Dude, wow) but it’s great to see an actor revaluate their career in the way in which McConaughey has done and while for years it looked as though he was merely an actor for hire, coasting on his looks, now it appears as though McConaughey is ready to keep delivering us some exciting and quality films for the ages.

As always this Top 10 list is not based on McConaughey’s performance alone but the film overall.

Happy reading and happy watching!

Dressed to kill in the creepy fried chicken filled Killer Joe

Dressed to kill in the creepy fried chicken filled Killer Joe

10. Killer Joe (2011) & The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

McConaughey plays – Joe Cooper & Mark Hanna

Couldn’t leave WOWS off the list despite McConaughey only appearing for a mere moment of screen time but he makes it count (with some ‘handy” life advice) and WOWS is a fantastic trip to the fast lane of money and greed. Killer Joe on the other hand is a real show piece of grunge filled power directed by industry veteran William Friedkin and features the most jaw dropping use of a fried chicken drumstick you’re ever likely to see.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? No and Yes.

9. Amistad (1997)

McConaughey plays – Roger Sherman Baldwin

One of Steven Spielberg’s lesser known and less liked films, Amistad is still quality stuff and a horrific look at the crime of slavery. With an all-star cast led by Spielberg’s usual assured direction, this is a courtroom drama worth your time.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? No.

8. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

McConaughey plays – Mick Haller

There’s nothing overly outstanding on display here but the energetically fun The Lincoln Lawyer see’s McConaughey on charismatic form leading a solid support cast in a glossy whodunit that will have you glued to your seat for its entirety. The perfect movie for a lazy Saturday night in.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? Hinted at.

7. Tropic Thunder (2008)

McConaughey plays – Rick Peck

We’ve made mention of Tropic Thunder here before and we’ll make mention of it again, this is one of those seriously funny movies that defies its immature nature and becomes a laugh out loud examination of Hollywood and its stars. Only a bit part player in a star studded ensemble, McConaughey gets some solid laughs from his small screen time.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? No.

6. Mud (2012)

McConaughey plays – Mud

A low key coming of age/love story, famed indie director Jeff Nicholl’s film is a real joy to behold that features a great up and coming cast and some nice turns from industry heavyweights in the form of McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. A film you’ve perhaps passed by, Mud is a tale likely to please all who see it.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? Yes.

Mud ushered in one of the better performances of McConaughey's career

Mud ushered in one of the better performances of McConaughey’s career

5. Contact (1997)

McConaughey plays – Palmer Joss

One of the more divisive films of Robert Zemeckis’s directing career, Contact is a slow building yet often hugely memorable Sci-Fi that is perhaps a lot better than you remember it being. Filled with much wonderment and neat genre ideas, Contact is a film all space loving film lovers need to see.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? Hinted at.

4. Frailty (2001)

McConaughey plays – Fenton Meiks

Bill Paxton’s oft forgotten about directional debut, Frailty is both creepy and memorable and is a film with a style all to its own. The less known about this spine tingling tale of murder and family the better although Jordan does a great classic review of the film that can be found here if you need any more convincing.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? Hinted at.

3. A Time to Kill (1996)

McConaughey plays – Jake Tyler Brigance

Made during the time when John Grisham novel’s ruled the world and Joel Schumacher films didn’t suck, A Time to Kill is an incendiary courtroom drama that has its roots planted in the deep south and takes aim at racism that lays at the heart of American society. The film features some stand out turns from a non-self-parodying Samuel L. Jackson and McConaughey.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? No.

2. Dazed and Confused (1993)

McConaughey plays – Wooderson

An undisputed classic of cinema that gave birth to the careers of McConaughey, Ben Affleck and um Jason London (oh boy what happened to that guy!), Richard Linklater’s coming of age comedy/drama is a joyous film that lives on till this day. A truly memorable motion picture that captures both the joys and the horrors of childhood to adulthood and life in the 70’s.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? YES!

1. Interstellar (2014)

McConaughey plays – Cooper

It’s got its haters and its many admirers and while it will always be a film that’s easy to target for its weaknesses those people fail to see the many triumphs of Christopher Nolan’s space epic. A stunning example of practical moviemaking and original filmmaking at its most exciting. For those that bought into Nolan’s film and accepted it for daring to dream, Interstellar was a true standout. Read why I found it to be the film of last year here.

Is the laidback Texan charm in affect? Hinted at.

Suited up in the epic Sci-Fi Interstellar, a film for the ages

Suited up in the epic Sci-Fi Interstellar, a film for the ages

Honourable mentions – Dallas Buyers Club, Bernie and True Detective (seriously what a TV show!)

What’s your favourite McConaughey film? Do you perhaps prefer his Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’s over his Interstellar’s? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

For our other Actor Top 10’s check out below –

Tom Cruise

Tom Hanks

Bruce Willis

Russell Crowe

Denzel Washington

Brad Pitt

Nicolas Cage

Leonardo DiCaprio

Robert DeNiro

Johnny Depp

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22 responses to “Top 10 Films – Matthew McConaughey

  1. I think Mud is a very underrated and underseen movie. I caught it on Netflix a while back and really enjoyed it. Both his performance and the movie are great. I was glad to see it made your list. It’s definitely worth checking out for anyone.

  2. If I had to pick a top three, I’d go (in no particular order): Interstellar, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street (or Dallas Buyers Club since he’s not in Wolf much). Really like Dazed and Confused too. I did watch some of Sahara the other week and sort of enjoyed its knock-off Spielbergian qualities. I mean it is rubbish, but kinda endearing rubbish. Great list!

  3. How does the movie he won an award for not get on here? I’ve never seen it so maybe there’s something about it I don’t know, but just doesn’t make sense to me not to have it on there.

  4. I really like his performance in Killer Joe. It’s been a while since I saw it but I still remember how tense and powerful that film was. And Dazed and Confused is of course, fantastic. 🙂

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  7. I have to say, Killer Joe, overall, was such a bizarre and uncomfortable movie, and McConaughey was brilliantly disgusting in it. I like the way he managed to not get stuck in rom-coms – he has so much more to bring to the table, as is evidenced in so many of the picks here!

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