Top 10 Matthew McConaughey Performances

Born November 4th, 1969 in Texas, Matthew McConaughey is an actor known for his laid-back demeanor, his charismatic personality and his abs. His breakout role came in 1991 when he was cast in Richard Linklater’s "Dazed and Confused," and since then he has played lawyers, contract killers, strippers and everything in between to great success. Whether he’s playing a romantic lead, a football coach or an overzealous agent, McConaughey brings his trademark cool guy factor to the part, and shines in both lead and supporting roles. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down Matthew McConaughey’s top 10 performances.
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Top 10 Matthew McConaughey Performances


Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for Matthew McConaughey’s top 10 performances.

#10 – Killer Joe Cooper: “Killer Joe” (2011)

Kicking off our list is one of the darkest films on McConaughey’s resume. As “Killer Joe,” McConaughey shows off his ability to play slimy and self-assured roles as an assassin-for-hire who is tapped to kill a woman for her life insurance money. In a film full of gripping performances, McConaughey’s is a head above the rest, and it reminds us that his range expands far beyond rom-coms.

#9 – Rick “Pecker” Peck: “Tropic Thunder” (2008)

McConaughey takes his turn to lampoon Hollywood stereotypes by taking on the clichéd role of the douchey, gets-it-done-any-way-he-can agent. Between playing his Wii and fighting for a TiVo, McConaughey makes this cameo a memorable part, ‘cause it’s The Pecker who saves the day. Plus, he knows exactly what you need to do when you kill a hooker. Or a panda.

#8 – Jack Lengyel: “We Are Marshall” (2006)

While this based-on-a-true-story film got a mixed reception from critics and fans, McConaughey was almost universally praised for his portrayal of the new football coach at a high school that just lost its entire team in a plane crash. The part gives him an opportunity to show another side of his skills, and the result is an inspirational, emotional, sometimes funny, and charismatic performance that is a definite touchdown.

#7 – Benjamin Barry: “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (2003)

We had to put at least one of McConaughey’s romantic comedies on the list, and this is silly rom-com at its best. McConaughey plays a self-assured ad man who thinks he can win the heart of any lady in the room. As is the often the case, hijinks ensue, but McConaughey handles Kate Hudson’s crazy with just the right amount of cocksure strut and charm.

#6 – Palmer Joss: “Contact” (1997)

This Carl Sagan adaptation approaches some pretty significant questions, most notably: Are we alone? While you might not expect him and his trademark cool-guy factor to work as a noted philosopher, he does manage to embody the battle between science and faith. Plus, the chemistry between McConaughey and Jodie Foster results in some great back-and-forths.

#5 – Mickey Haller: “The Lincoln Lawyer” (2011)

Instead of getting lazy and playing out his career with a string of interchangeable romantic comedies, McConaughey uses this movie to remind us he can still act. He plays a cheesy, crooked lawyer who is somehow forced to fight for the good guys. The author who penned the novel on which the story is based said McConaughey nailed the role, and you can’t get much higher praise than that.

#4 – Dallas: “Magic Mike” (2012)

McConaughey plays himself a lot in movies, and he could have easily done that in his role as an aging exotic dancer and strip club owner. He steals the show from the younger boys – not only with his dance moves, but by showing off his dark side as a shrewd and self-serving opportunist. Our guess is: no one expects to see any actual acting in a movie about male strippers, but McConaughey proves everyone wrong.

#3 – Roger Sherman Baldwin: “Amistad” (1997)

Next to screen legends like Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins, a lesser actor would wither away to oblivion in this Steven Spielberg epic. But McConaughey stands up to their talent, and proves his own, as a young lawyer fighting for the rights of Africans who are destined for slavery. He also demonstrates he is willing and able to take on diverse roles, and that helped him take his fame to the next level.

#2 – Jake Tyler Brigance: “A Time to Kill” (1996)

McConaughey’s first chance to prove his mettle was in this John Grisham adaptation. Though he had very few roles under his belt by this point in his career, and almost no training as an actor, he manages to shine beside a killer ensemble cast as another young lawyer who must try an almost impossible case. McConaughey reminds us of the film’s most disturbing themes and questions in an unforgettable courtroom speech.

#1 – David Wooderson: “Dazed and Confused” (1993)

Taking the top spot on our list is McConaughey’s memorable breakthrough role. This is the first of many collaborations between McConaughey and director Richard Linklater, and all have been some of the best work of the actor’s career. Though his role in “Dazed” is not much more than a cameo, he provides some of the most unforgettable material in the entire flick, and is able to sum up his charming, laid-back character with one quote.

Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite Matthew McConaughey performance? For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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