25. Gold (2016)
“Gold” is yet another great performance from McConaughey and it’s loosely based on an interesting true story but here we learn it again that having a good or interesting story is never enough if your narrative is not the right one for it. “Gold” has no energy and is pretty messy which makes the film uninvolving.
24. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
For nearly a decade, McConaughey was known to audiences as a “romantic comedy star” and unlike Hugh Grant, a fellow rom-com star who has his own “renaissance” in recent years, Matthew was not getting any acclaimed rom-com part.
McConaughey’s career has nothing as successful/acclaimed as “Four Weddings” or “Notting Hill”. But that said, he was still doing a good job in them, he had a considerable charm and he knew how to use it. And “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” is probably his best rom-com for every reason possible.
Yes, it’s very silly, very unconvincing, has some clichés here and there but truth has to be told, it has some really funny moments and most of the film works because unlike Parker or Lopez, McConaughey has a great chemistry with Kate Hudson.
One would actually want them to collaborate together again on something good. In the end, “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” is the one if you want to check out what McConaughey’s talent as a romantic comedy actor, which is something often go unnoticed but requires great skill as well.
23. Sea of Trees (2015)
Gus Van Sant’s “Sea of Trees” adds another auteur resume to Matthew’s filmography but also some of the harshest reviews of filmography. Not for his acting though, the critics were very annoyed of the film at the Cannes film festival, criticizing its tone, boring narrative, melodramatic moments, and lack of depth.
While some of these criticisms were reasonable, some of it also felt like little too harsh? It’s not a great movie maybe but it’s nowhere near as bad as initial Cannes reviews claimed it to be. It also gives Matthew a chance to star in an unlikely role and he’s pretty great at it.
22. Newton Boys (1998)
Richard Linklater’s “Newton Boys” was a major departure from his previous works, it was a big budget film overall and while he’s not entirely successful at it, he still has a made an entertaining film with some nice production design and a very likable cast, which included Linklater’s frequent collaborators Ethan Hawke and of course, Matthew who leads the cast with his charm and seriously they’re one of the main reasons of why the film works so well.
It’s bit overlong, and the story narrative is not interesting but the performances here are top-notch and you can feel Linklater’s touch here and there which makes the film a fine watch even if not a fully satisfying one.
21. EdTV (1999)
Would it get a better reception if “The Truman Show”, a film with slightly premise wouldn’t get released only a year before? Maybe but only very slightly because “The Truman Show” is actually a very intelligent film, and amazingly crafted one. “EdTV” is not much of a serious movie and while they have an interesting subject, they don’t have much interesting things to say about it.
Yet, it’s still a self-aware, fun movie mostly because of its cast. McConaughey proves himself to once again a likable lead and it’s the first time we see him together with Woody Harrelson. No, it’s not “True Detective”-level of great collaboration going on here but their chemistry is working as you can expect. Always funny Ellen DeGeneres, ever gorgeous Elizabeth Hurley and the late great Martin Landau are among the other performers in the film.
20. U-571 (2000)
Matthew’s first attempt at being some kind of an action hero, “U-571” is not the American “Das Boot” you’d expect but still a tense thriller.. There’s not much character development or depth in the script but the cast is so great (Harvey Keitel! Bill Paxton!) that they elevate the material and the action scenes, thanks to strong cinematography by Oliver Wood comes to life with such visual dynamism all those things make the film an entertaining ride, even if flawed.
19. Boys on the Side (1995)
McConaughey doesn’t get much to do in a supporting role he got basically for his good looks, but “Boys On the Side” is still a good film, not without its flaws. It may feel soapy here a bit but the acting by all three leads – Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Mary Louise Parker – is pretty strong and they all create convincing characters which make you interested in their lives and friendship.
18. White Boy Rick (2018)
It’s an interesting case. Matthew has starred in a lot of true stories and some of them were good (Amistad, Bernie) and some of them were average (Gold). “White Boy Rick” is somewhere in between, it’s not mediocre or something, you can see what the director aiming here for but it’s not particularly great because for some reason, the story, while interesting doesn’t always grab you in the way it should.
The script is more to blame here probably but Matthew’s performance elevates the film considerably. He is one of film’s highlights. The story is about Rick Wershe, who became an undercover police informant and later a drug dealer. Matthew plays his blue-collar father and he gives a very affecting and touching performance.
17. Amistad (1997)
One of Spielberg’s slightly lesser known works, “Amistad” is about then not-so-known story of the Amistad slaveship revolt and the subsequent court case over the fate of the Africans who revolted.
McConaughey does a good job here – even though not as good as his turn in “A Time to Kill” – as Roger Baldwin, a young lawyer but the show belongs to Djimon Hounsou and Anthony Hopkins, as they both have showier parts. The film is also well-crafted, not surprisingly as it’s Spielberg.
16. Contact (1997)
Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact”, based on Carl Sagan’s novel of the same name, was a commercially successful effort while the critical reception was mixed and understandably so. The film has so many interesting moments and some really good, thought-provoking scenes but in general, the whole thing doesn’t come together as effectively as it could be. Especially one can argue that its first part is more interesting and much better crafted than the rest of it. The third act is especially underwhelming.
While some conversations between Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey can grab your attention and Matthew is doing the best he can with his part, it almost feels like his character added in the last minute and is not developed as much as Foster’s character. Even though “Contact” can be underwhelming experience as a whole, it’s still an interesting attempt from 90s Hollywood at making brainy sci-fi and it’s worth watching for that reason alone.
15. Tropic Thunder (2008)
It’s bit long and so wild that it can bit tire you but its good sides are more than enough to forgive it flaws. Ben Stiller’s funny satire on Hollywood and Vietnam War dramas; “Tropic Thunder” is exactly the great kind of Summer comedy we need more of. It’s over-the-top but Stiller makes it work and he found the best actors for his film.
Robert Downey Jr and Tom Cruise got all the attention, former even got an Oscar nomination which is a big deal for this kind of film and it showed once again that Cruise is not afraid of taking risks in his role choices. McConaughey’s role is not as showy as them but his presence still adds even more fun to it.
14. Magic Mike (2012)
Loosely based on the experiences of its star Channing Tatum, who was an 18-year-old stripper in Tampa, Florida, “Magic Mike” was the film that made McConaughey – who played Magic Mike’s (Tatum) boss in the film – collaborate with yet another auteur: Steven Soderbergh.
The film was everything Matthew needed at that time: he earned raves for his performance, the film was critically acclaimed for its strong direction and original, smartly written script, and it was a box office success. This was the time where he finally used his good looks not for a silly comedic moment in a mainstream studio Hollywood rom-com but a film that is actually respected and loved by critics.