Mathew McConaughey hasn't had a “comeback” by the textbook definition of the term. He didn’t languish in movie jail like Mickey Rourke; he didn’t fall off the map for a decade like Dennis Hopper. Rather, like John Travolta, he sank in plain view — in the sunlit terrariums of rom-com-land, where, if anything, he seemed even to be enjoying himself. But the rescusitation of his critical fortunes has involved much the same course as Rourke’s: a scouring of the flesh, a purification of the body — “this old, broken down piece of meat” in Rourke’s delicious phrase from The Wrestler. Playing the stricken Ron Woodruff, in Dallas Buyer’s Club, McConnaughey is reptilian, feverish, emaciated, containing just the element of trompe o’oeile the academy has learned to consider ‘acting.’ They have decided to reward his role in Dallas Buyer’s Club but it could as easily have been for any of the roles that have marked out the McConnaughaissence, starting with 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer, in which he dirtied up the attorney role with which he first made his name in 1996’s A Time to Kill. In Magic Mike, he deconstructed his own reputation as Cinema’s One Truly Objectified Male, whipping up the waves of female lust that buffeted the stage of the Xquisite like a conductor. Last year the fusillade of roles had become unignorable: Bernie, Killer Joe, Mud, Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, which he stole with a piece of improv designed to get him into character. People have won Oscars with far less. If McConaughey wins Best Actor on March 2n, as looks increasingly likely — with wins from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Broadcast Film Critics Association now under his belt — it will be for one of the more protracted hot streaks in recent years.
Feb 18, 2014
OSCAR FUTURES: BEST ACTOR
From this week's Guardian Oscar column:—