The McConaughey Renaissance is upon us. For the past few years, former rom-com and action-comedy stud muffin Matthew McConaughey has been building his acting cred in Hollywood with roles in movies like Bernie, Magic Mike and Killer Joe, all culminating in McConaughey's Oscar-nominated turn in Dallas Buyers Club. For the film — which was released in 2013 — the actor lost ridiculous amounts of weight and appeared to gain an immense amount of talent for his role as AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in the movie, which will also contend for an Oscar come March 2.
But let's not forget where good old Matty came from before he was impressing critics. The actor been around for years, making us laugh, cry, and cringe in movies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Did you see McConaughey's Oscar potential under his slick Southern charms in these rom-coms? No? Well, we did. So, in celebration of the actor's much-deserved Academy Award nomination, we've rounded up some of his most Oscar-worthy (or at least, dramatic) scenes from a trio of his least Oscar-worthy movies. Just go with us here.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
How could anyone forget this moment from the 2003 epic How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? In it, Ben (McConaughey) has to redeem himself to a fleeing Andie (frequent RomCom collab Kate Hudson). To pull this off, McConaughey the actor has to pull out all the stops. He has to incorporate flawless athleticism (he races down a fire escape!), raw emotion (he pleads for a second chance!), and drop dead Southern sex appeal (he speaks with an accent… oh, wait).
Failure to Launch
This clip from 2006's Failure to Launch is a real treat: In it, McConaughey performs alongside fellow 2014 Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper. From this scene along, we can really see why Cooper is up for supporting actor and McConaughey is nominated for top honors; the latter steals the scene, in which he goes head-to-head against a raging chipmunk. Just look at the fear he evokes. It's almost like he was drawing on something deeper, like a fear that he'd be stuck in romantic comedies, acting opposite CGI rodents for the rest of his days, perhaps. Would it be too bold to pinpoint this moment as a turning point in McConaughey's career? I think not.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
In 2009, McConaughey started his journey toward proving his chops as a great thespian with his role in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, in which he takes on a modern Scrooge character. It's exactly like A Christmas Carol, but without Christmas or quite the same wholesome lesson. In this scene, McConaughey's big save-the-day speech, he convinces a would-be runaway bride not to leave the fiancé she just learned cheated on her, because their love trumps infidelity. That's the kind of moral he's learned by the end of the movie. Anyone delivering that speech should sound like a total schmuck and yet, Matthew McConaughey managed to walk away sounding like only a partial schmuck, which is an award-worthy achievement if there ever was one.
So there you have it: The McConaughey Renaissance didn't just spring up on us. It's been building for years, we just didn't know where to look.
Image: Paramount Pictures