The Retrolight Awards | Matthew McConaughey

Our inaugural post on these Matrix-led awards (a keen statue coming really soon) was met with a nice batch of approval, applause, and a few comments, so thanks for that.

The RetroLight Awards seeks the entertainment world each month for the person whom is front-and-center and worthy of a review of their acclaimed work. Last month, it was Josh Brolin, who pretty much owned the summer of 2018. This month goes to a Texas gent who fades in and out of headlines the same way he (allegedly) does consciousness after a stimulating Friday night.

Fresh off the heels of White Boy Rick, a more-of-a-family-movie-than-you-think, this month’s RetroLight Award goes to the man, the myth, the sometimes muddled in speech,

Mr. Matthew McConaughey

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Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was a cinematic portrayal of the Latin phrase “Amor Pondus Meum” meaning “Love is the law of gravity.” The success of selling this high concept rested on the shoulders of Matthew McConaughey who played astronaut Josh Cooper, a renegade NASA space explorer whose goal is to save the world — only, as he later learns, it’s based on a failed promise.

When faced with the revelation that Cooper is only a seed of space colonization, he is determined to still fulfill his mission. Cooper bends time and space to reach his daughter, remind her of his love, and pass her the keys of survival. Interstellar is arguably the best father/daughter film of all time and, personally, made me weep over the concept of love as the most powerful force in the universe.

Interstellar ($677m) just edges out Sing ($634m) as the top grossing film of McConaughey’s career. Interstellar is rooted in a father’s transcendent love and Sing is a kid’s movie. Yet both keep with McConaughey’s unabashed devotion to his own children.

We believe in Cooper’s love every time he screams his daughter’s name, “MURPH” in frustration. We ache with Cooper as he sobs at the prospect of failing her. We cheer as Cooper smashes through every obstacle to reach her again. Beyond the father/daughter connection, McConaughey nails lighter connections within the story: quiet conversations with his own father and clever repertoire with his robotic sidekick Tars. Interstellar runs Matthew McConaughey through the full gamut of emotion and we are strapped in as his co-pilots.

Review by: Gunnar Radel

Mud

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McConaughey got his part in Interstellar after Christopher Nolan watched his turn as the title character in the film, Mud. This southern fairy-tale is essentially a modern take on Tom Sawyer, following the misadventures of two 14-year-old boys mystified by Mud, a very charming fugitive.

Mud uses the two boys as cupids, sending them on dangerous missions that will reunite Mud with his lover. His misguided mentorship guides the boys through the perils of teenage heartbreak and the trauma of divorce. When Mud takes to the river once more, he leaves the boys with a gun and a fresh perspective.

Like sediment left on the banks of a river, Mud is deposited into the boys’ lives by fate. He wants to stay, fighting the river tides of reality, conformity, and the law. He’s dirty, physically and morally. Most likely guilty of murder, he unintentionally manipulates the boys with his dangerous ideology.

When faced with imprisonment or death, Mud redeems himself by rescuing his youthful accomplices. As the river giveth and the river taketh, Mud is swept away. He smiles at fate and leaves us for more misadventures upstream.

Review by: Gunnar Radel

Gold

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In Gold, McConaughey portrays Kenny Wells. Wells is a fictional character, loosely based on Bre-X CEO David Walsh. Wells is a prospector who has lost everything (including his hair). He is down on his luck, living with his girlfriend (rent-free) and trying to get his own business up-and-running from the back room of his girlfriend’s bar.

Wells’ story is something we have seen before: a man (or woman) falls on hard times, experiences a meteoric rise followed by a crushing downfall. All he wanted was the American Dream. Despite the best intentions and his ignorance to what was really behind his company’s success, he becomes viewed as villain by the public and by his employees. Kenny is a passionate prospector who wants to believe the best in people, which makes him someone vulnerable to being used by others.

McConaughey delivers ten-fold in this role. His level of commitment to this role is exemplified by the fact he put 40 additional pounds to portray Wells, as well as having prosthetic crooked teeth made. He would wear those for hours each day to get used to talking with them in. He plays Kenny with a sense of hope when he falls on hard times for the first time. He brings a heavy amount of optimism and passion when Kenny tries to revive his company from the ashes. While Kenny does get transformed into a businessman throughout the course of the film due to sudden success he finds, he always stays true to his inner prospector.

The idea of prospecting thrills Kenny. This passion and sense of wonderment McConaughey brings to this role makes the audience applaud Kenny to find success. Due to this brilliant performance, the audience feels compelled to sympathize with and forgive Kenny for his ignorance when his scandalous company goes under.

This role provided McConaughey a chance to showcase his acting range. He takes Kenny from a hopeful and passionate prospector, to a regretful and apologetic business owner, trying to come to terms with losing his business (again) and costing hundreds of trusting people their jobs. Overall, it’s a great coming of age tale, similar to its inspiration — Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain would be proud.

Review by: Chad Hirsch

The Lincoln Lawyer

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McConaughey portrays Mick Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer. Haller is a charismatic, smooth-talking defense attorney. He’s never met a client he didn’t like or wouldn’t represent as long as the money was right. He was nicknamed “the Lincoln Lawyer” due to his preference of working out of his Lincoln Town Car as opposed to working out of an office.
Haller has a poor reputation with the local police department because of his strong track record defending and keeping even the most obviously guilty criminals out of jail. It’s this track record and Haller’s affinity for outwitting the judge and jury in court that attracts the first client he will regret defending.
The role of Mick Haller is a tailor made for McConaughey. It’s a trademark role for him as it demands self-confidence and charisma, both of which come naturally for McConaughey. His character is fast talking, witty, and charismatic, but it is McConaughey who owns every scene he’s in as he commands the audience’s attention with infectious and magnetic energy. In a star-studded ensemble cast that includes William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston, Ryan Phillippe, and Marisa Tomei; McConaughey outshines all his cast mates with relative ease.
You can see how “in the zone” McConaughey is when he’s defending his clients. He oozes confidence and you get the sense that this was a role he was chomping at the bit to make. Even when the story takes a turn and Haller finds himself the victim of a client who has thrust him into a game of cat-and-mouse, McConaughey makes sure to never let Haller lose his charisma nor his charm.

Some may see the character of Mick Haller as a sleazy defense attorney with no moral center, but the sheer amount of energy and charm that McConaughey brings to the role, the audience can’t help but root for him.

Review by: Chad Hirsch

Dallas Buyers Club

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In his Oscar-winning performance, Matthew McConaughey plays electrician and activist Ron Woodroof, a sex addict, racist, and homophobe, but his transition and change in views truly sell McConaughey’s performance.

Diagnosed with HIV with only 30 days left to live, Woodroof tries to find a cure and, in doing so, creates a group that will help treat other HIV diagnosed patients. That group’s name: The Dallas Buyers Club.
Throughout this two-hour run time, you see McConaughey’s acting levels reach new and unknown heights that are absolutely incredible. Every scene of his are beautifully and painfully engineered.

The first 10 minutes set an unbelievably high bar in terms of the performance from one of the greatest actors working today. The first 10 minutes alone would be Oscar-worthy.
Some of McConaughey’s stand-out scenes portraying Woodroof included: Praying in the strip club (which really showed the breakdown of his character) and breaking down in the car. Both of those scenes showcase the pain and suffering of what McConaughey went through when portraying this character on the big screen, as well as the effect everything had on Ron Woodroof in real life.
Matthew McConaughey’s outbursts during the movie lifted his performance and it really showed where he took his character. His performance in Dallas Buyers Club was phenomenal and is arguably some of the best acting you’ll ever see.

Review by: Will Vickers

Dazed and Confused

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Twenty years before Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey played David Wooderson whose first words in the move are “Alright, Alright, Alright.” Wooderson is your typical cool party boy who likes to drink, play pool and smoke weed.
He was basically living the life in this Richard Linklater movie. What I love about McConaughey’s performance is some of — if not, all of — his scenes were so casual. It almost seemed as if he had fun playing Wooderson.

Even though Dazed and Confused was years before Dallas Buyers Club, it was completely different to see McConaughey in this kind of role. David Wooderson was a great character to perform, I think the dialogue and how great he delivered it helped with that.
Going from a comedy character to a more serious character between the two movies, I’ve reviewed of McConaughey’s, it just makes me think that he is such a talented and diverse actor. He is surely one of the great working actors today.

Review by: Will Vickers

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