Matthew McConaughey: Nominated for 'Dallas Buyers Club' or 'Mud'?
by Joey Magidson
October 31, 2013
Last year, there was an unexpected movement to get Matthew McConaughey recognized with an Academy award nomination. Yes, the same guy who'd been criticized mercilessly for his shirtless performances and lack of effort was now a critical darling of sorts for the one-two punch of Killer Joe and Magic Mike in 2012 (plus the festival run of Mud, which was seen by Alex at Cannes, continued into this year at Sundance, and then came out earlier in 2013). While the former was a lead performance in an NC-17 flick destined to be ignored by Oscar, the latter was a scene stealing supporting turn in an unexpected hit. While McConaughey ultimately missed out, the stage has been set for him to perhaps build on that this year.
Having already seen Dallas Buyers Club a few weeks ago, which comes out this weekend, I can say that he's nomination worthy in both films, just like last year. But after not catching on during the precursor circuit with either of his flicks last year, McConaughey won't have that problem this time around. Both Dallas Buyers Club and Mud should show up plenty during early awards, and he's also a Best Supporting Actor possibility for The Wolf of Wall Street. More than likely, Mud will be where his Supporting Actor luck lies, though time will tell. As for Dallas Buyers Club, well, that's a Best Actor player without question.
With a pair of Oscar-bait roles for voters to consider (and potentially that third one as well), where will Oscar look? His lead performance is the obvious place to start, especially since Dallas Buyers Club will likely also be represented in the Best Supporting Actor field by Jared Leto, who's astonishing in the film. That being said, Mud is very much going to be in play, so the possibility is there for McConuaghey to score the rare double nomination.
In the Academy's history, there have only been ten instances where an actor or actress was nominated for two performances in the same year (with one random occurrence before a change of the rules having Barry Fitzgerald nominated in both categories for the same film!). This sort of double nomination doesn't happen often, and in fact has only happened three times in the past 20 years. One of the most recent examples was when Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for Ray while also scoring a Supporting Actor nod for Collateral. Could this sort of situation apply to McConaughey? In terms of the nomination, I think so.
I remain somewhat unconvinced that McConaughey can win an Oscar for any of his roles this year, but I'd be astonished if he didn't receive at least one nomination. That says nothing of his performances, but says a lot of his stiff competition. In both categories, there's multiple worthy winners, so his path to a statue could very well be blocked in such a way that the nomination would have to be his reward for now.
In Best Actor, he'd have to beat out equally worthy competitors like Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips, Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, Joaquin Phoenix for Her, and Robert Redford for All is Lost…plus potentially Christian Bale for American Hustle if that film turns out to be a player as well. I may keep repeating those names, but I do so with good reason…it's a stacked category. This seems like too much for McConaughey. He might jump over a few for a nod, but a win would be shocking to me.
As for Best Supporting Actor, the race is more wide open, but his Dallas Buyers Club co-star Leto stands in the way of anyone else trying to turn a nomination into a win. He's also got to contend with folks like Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave, John Goodman in Inside Llewyn Davis, Jake Gyllenhaal for Prisoners, plus another double nomination hopeful in Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks, among others. Don't forget whomever emerges from American Hustle either…likely Bradley Cooper or Jeremy Renner. It's a category with plenty of uncertainty, so while McConaughey could make a play there, he's plenty likely to miss out entirely in the field as well.
Perhaps during the precursor season one particular role of his will stand out from the pack and we can begin to consider McConaughey as a potential upset winner, but for now he's going to have to focus in on just getting nominated. My gut feeling is that he'll wind up breaking into the Best Actor field for Dallas Buyers Club, though I often toy with him getting snubbed there and winding up just in Best Supporting Actor for Mud. If he scores both…watch out for that upset win though. Until then however, it'll be very interesting to see which film gets McConaughey his first honor from Oscar voters. Thoughts?