Ranked! The 12 Best Matthew McConaughey Movie Roles (Ahead of Guy Ritchie’s ‘The Gentlemen’)
Matthew McConaughey is one of America’s favorite actors (and gentlemen). Whether his Southern drawl, irresistible charm, or increasingly impressive acting chops, one thing’s for sure: He’s only going to get better with age, much like his Wild Turkey whiskey line. Although his outstanding performances started only somewhat recently with Dallas Buyers Club and HBO’s True Detective, he has an extensive filmography, including some little-known gems and honestly forgettable rom-com roles. But Big Mac has kept his blue eyes on the prize, from the days of Dazed and Confused to his latest release, Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy The Gentlemen, in which he plays Micky Pearson, a marijuana mogul (so not too big of a jump for our main man). Now we’re grabbing the bull by the horns and rounding up then ranking his best work, which obviously ends with every Lincoln car commercial he’s ever done. Sounds like an alright, alright, alright time to us. See if you agree with us below on the best of Matthew McConaughey, then see him in The Gentleman, in theaters Friday, Jan. 24.
Cover Photo: Lionsgate
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This period Steven Spielberg film about a murder trial surrounding slavery issues featured McConaughey as Roger Baldwin, a real estate attorney who comes to realize that the men he is defending are not just property, but people.
11. 'Lone Star'
This quiet stunner of a film revolves around the discovery of a skeleton belonging to Sheriff Charlie Wade in small-town Texas. McConaughey plays Buddy Deeds, a deputy who may have wanted Wade dead so he could take over as sheriff.
Photo: Columbia Pictures
McConaughey takes a more serious turn as Cooper, a widowed astronaut, in this sci-fi flick directed by Christopher Nolan. The actor delicately balances heartfelt emotion with comic banter, and lends an aura of awe to the character.
9. 'The Lincoln Lawyer'
McConaughey carried this legal thriller as alcohol-loving attorney Mick Haller, who works out of his Lincoln Continental and is tasked with defending a pretty boy (Ryan Phillippe) accused of battery. He not only dominates the courtroom but also shares sizzling chemistry with his ex-wife (Marisa Tomei).
8. 'The Beach Bum'
As Moondog in this stoner comedy, McConaughey embodies a wacky, womanizing, boozing Key West poet who gets a rude -- but ultimately enlightening -- awakening.
7. 'Dazed and Confused'
In Richard Linklater's legendary coming-of-age film, McConaughey steals the show as Wooderson. The actor was just a film student when he hit up the casting director while out drinking at a hotel bar with his girlfriend. He nabbed the role and netted more screen time than was originally intended for the character. Another fun fact: McConaughey's now-signature tagline, "Alright, alright, alright," comes from this very film.
6. 'Magic Mike'
In what has been called one of McConaughey's best performances, the insanely fit actor plays Tampa strip club boss Dallas. But just because he's a businessman doesn't mean he doesn't get on stage and shake it for the ladies from time to time. The multi-talented character also sings, plays guitar, and teaches young dancers the tricks of the trade.
5. 'A Time to Kill'
This adaptation of John Grisham's debut novel puts McConaughey in the role of Jake Brigance, a lawyer defending a black man who killed his daughter's white rapists. McConaughey was one of the less experienced members of the cast that also included Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, and Donald Sutherland.
4. 'Killer Joe'
McConaughey plays the titular role of a cop who moonlights as a hit man in this brutal but comic thriller that got slapped with an NC-17 rating because of the sex and violence therein. It's not an easy watch, but McConaughey's exceptional performance balances out the vile aspects.
3. 'The Wolf of Wall Street'
Though most people associate this film with its star, Leonardo DiCaprio, it was McConaughey's performance as Mark Hanna, the unhinged mentor to Jordan Belfort, that got everyone talking.
McConaughey shined as a mysterious loner named Mud who lives on an island in a makeshift tree house in this critically-acclaimed drama. A pair of boys try to help this mythical character evade the authorities and reconnect with his first love (Reese Witherspoon).
1. 'Dallas Buyers Club'
McConaughey downright disappeared into his role as real-life Ron Woodroof, an HIV-positive man turned activist who helps fellow sufferers access life-saving medications. Along the way, he transforms from a devil-may-care bigot to an empathetic advocate. McConaughey's depiction garnered him his only Oscar (so far) for Best Actor.