Is there “Magic” in McConaughey’s Oscar Campaign?


Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike received some of the most surprising and welcoming reviews of 2012 so far.  At first, the film emotes a trashy, boy-stripper film with no brains and the distant cousin of Paul Verhhoeven’s Showgirls (1995).  However, this sensitive and smartly written film has been one of the most profitable films of the year based on its mere $7 million budget.  The film raked in over $112 million and with a well-placed DVD release, the film can only add to its domestic total.

E-mails, comments, and badgering from some of my colleagues have brought the prospect of Matthew McConaughey sneaking in, and being named among the Best Supporting Actor nominees this year.  Along with Soderbergh’s film, McConaughey also had roles in Richard Linkater’s Bernie and William Freidkin’s Killer Joe.  The presumed narrative being discussed is that McConaughey has finally transitioned himself from a supposed eye-candy lunk that “al-right’s” himself through all of his movies into a respected, character actor.  Is the proposal a stretch?  To some it may.  On top of the three performances delivered thus far, he also has roles in Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and Jeff Nichols’ Mud later this year.  The latter is said to be his best turn yet but no release date or distributor has come to fruition as of yet.  In a crowded Best Actor field already, a career-defining turn in Nichols’ film would only highlight and add to the campaign for his supporting turn in Mike, if, this possibility is in fact, a feasible possibility.

McConaughey has not had an impressive resume up until the now.  His best work has arguably been discussed as his breakout role in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), a performance that many may not even remember.  He’s attempted the drama genre before in Joel Schumacher’s A Time to Kill (1996), Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997), and last year’s The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), attempts that have not been widely appreciated or well-received.   His turns in comedy have not been any kinder.  Failure to Launch (2006) and Two for the Money (2005) were some of his worst films that were by panned by critics.

Once in a while, the Oscars do surprise the general public.  The idea of expanding to ten Best Picture nominees is often credited to Christopher Nolan and The Dark Knight being left off the lineup in the 2009 ceremony.  While the Academy can make some questionable choices (*cough The Reader cough*), they have shown signs of accepting more mainstream films and brilliant performances.  The same year as The Dark Knight snub came about, they embraced the work of Robert Downey, Jr. in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder (2008).  A turn I fully believe, if Ledger’s work was out of the equation, Downey Jr. would and should have won the Oscar.

I bring this up because I recognize that it is possible for a performance like “Dallas” in Magic Mike to be recognized by the Academy.  Is it likely?  I highly doubt it.  I struggle with the notion of even placing him on the Oscar Tracker today given the opportunity.  I believe he’ll need some real standout notices as the critics’ awards come out.  Golden Globe and SAG mentions would be essential as well as a big notice from something like Los Angeles or New York Film Critics.  Then, and only then, do I see McConaughey as a dark horse at best.  It’ll be interesting to see how the PR companies and studios handle him throughout the season.

For now, I’m operating on skeptical.

Comment and discuss!

  • Joey Magidson

    His best work so far was in Killer Joe, but he’s never getting nominated for that. I’ve been saying he’s a Supporting Actor threat for Magic Mike since the flick came out, and I’m firmly predicting him for a nod right now…

  • George

    I agree Joey his best performance of the year (and ever imo) was in Killer Joe. He has surprised me greatly this year and it looks like he’s really trying to be taken seriously at long last. An Oscar nom for Magic Mike would be the icing on the cake this year for him. I loved him as the arrogant, unlikeable lawyer in Bernie and was amazed by (what I thought) his subtle and layered performance as the seemingly-nice but seedy Dallas in Magic Mike. I don’t know if he’s a great actor or picking great directors to work with (Linklater, Soderbergh, and Friedkin this year alone with Scorsese in the near future), either way I feel he deserves a nom for his body of work this year.

  • Joey Magidson

    He certainly has the body of work this year that could result in a nod…

  • Roger

    I think McConaughey could be nominated -He’s in 4th place in my prediction-. Not only he’s having a great body in just a few years -And working with directors like Linklater, Soderbergh, Friedkin, Nichols-, Magic Mike was an story of success and sometimes, AMPAS wants to reward with a nom to Hollywood stars.

    Another advantage for McConaughey campaign: The supporting categories are more flexible with comedic and “bizarre” performances. Last year was Melissa McCarthy with an raunchy comedy. Not only she was nominated, even she won critics prizes and a surprising Emmy. In 2008, Robert Downey Jr. has the comeback factor and the BO success. I don’t say McConaughey is 100% sure, but he’s having a great year, BO success, critical support and respect.

    I predicted he’ll be the first actor who received all of the Body of work awards -Even with Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt-, a Golden Globe and SAG nomination and a possible Oscar nomination

  • GL

    It could happen. It is not unheard for Oscar voters to place odd ball character actors in the mix, especially in the supporting category. Remember Robert Downey Jr. for “Tropic Thunder”? However his campaign is going to need to be fierce and smart about it. “Magic Mike” seems to be the perfect vehicle for him, plus everyone loves Soderberd and his movies right now. Not a far fetched idea.

  • UBourgeois

    Honestly, the Best Supporting Actor category isn’t that crowded this year. Other than DiCaprio, Hoffman, and a Lincoln nom, no other surefire candidates have shown up. There’s no reason at all an oddball choice can’t slip in, and it would just be wonderful if McConaughey could be it. Speaking of Mud though, is he leading or supporting. Not seen the film, but just by the various clips that were distributed from Cannes he seemed to be in a position to be classified as either,

  • missionstatement1224

    He received some of the best reviews of his career for Lincoln Lawyer and the film was received well too (83% on rottontomatoes0. There were also plenty of critics that liked him in A Time to Kill, which I personally believe is his best performance.