20 Best Matthew McConaughey Movies from Dallas Buyers Club to Magic Mike

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20 Best Matthew McConaughey Movies from Dallas Buyers Club to Magic Mike

Jan 25, 2019



You can divide Matthew McConaughey into a few distinct categories: There’s slick lawyer, rom-com hunk, lovable sleaze, and everything else. The guy looks as good in a cowboy hat as he does in a suit or in nothing at all. He can do everything. He can be a brainless set of abs or give an Oscar-winning performance. In honor of his sweeping, sexy career, here are the 20 best Matthew McConaughey movies. Alright, alright, alright.

20. Failure to Launch

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McConaughey is a sexy, charming, immature bachelor who lives in his parents basement. He’s also in his full early 2000s rom-com phase. Yeah, the early 2000s were weird and didn’t necessarily age well. But, for better or worse, you can’t talk about Matthew McConaughey movies without mentioning this relic of a lost age.

19. Angels in the Outfield


For any millennial who was even vaguely aware of baseball in the early ’90s, it’s impossible to forget the moment that McConaughey’s Ben Williams made his divine catch in right field. Only one year after Dazed and Confused, McConaughey was already forming great moments in cinema history for young moviegoers.

18. Sing

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McConaughey voices a small koala who puts on a singing competition to support his struggling theater. It’s basically The Voice as an animated film of talking, anthropomorphized animals. Also, McConaughey is kind of like a family-friendly, marsupial version of his Magic Mike character, which is pretty funny in itself.

17. Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

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It’s a testament to McConaughey’s range that he’s just as good as playing trashy hunks as he is a slick lawyer type. In this film made up of 13 vignettes, McConaughey plays a district attorney riddled with guilt for injuring a woman in a hit and run.

16. Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo and the Two Strings was robbed at the 2016 Academy Awards where it lost Best Animated Feature to Zootopia. McConaughey voices Beetle, the father of the titular hero who is transformed into a warrior bug in this beautiful and touching stop-motion animated film.

15. Tropic Thunder

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Since we usually consider Tom Cruise’s cameo in Tropic Thunder as one of his best performances, it’s only right that we include McConaughey’s, too. He plays the douchey Hollywood agent Rick Peck, who is trying to keep his client Tugg Speedman’s (Ben Stiller) career together during a disastrous Apocalypse Now-type movie.

14. The Lincoln Lawyer

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The Lincoln Lawyer marked a turning point in McConaughey’s career. Playing a slick defense attorney, McConaughey gave a performance that showed directors and critics that he could be a serious Oscar-caliber actor. This film kicked off the most prolific, and acclaimed, era of his career which included Bernie, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Mud, and Dallas Buyers Club.

13. Bernie


No, it’s not a documentary about the 2016 election and Democratic National Convention meddling, Bernie is Richard Linklater’s bizarre crime comedy about a real life murder. A vastly underrated film, McConaughey plays Danny Buck, the hilariously cavalier district attorney.

12. Interstellar

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Look, Interstellar gets a bad rap. Yes, it’s like 45 minutes too long, but the majority of this film does its best to make a modern day 2001: A Space Odyssey, with an environmentalism twist. Plus, McConaughey is fantastic, as evidenced by his meme-ified scene of him crying watching messages from his daughter.

11. Mud

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Would anyone be surprised if McConaughey really was a man named Mud hiding on an island in the Mississippi hiding from the law? The actor is entirely believable (and great) in this Southern adventure directed by Jeff Nichols.

10. The Wolf of Wall Street

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This movie is proof of what McConaughey can do with a bit part. He’s in a brief 15 minutes of Martin Scorsese’s three-hour capitalist epic—but he’s still one of the most memorable parts of the film.

9. Killer Joe

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You’ll never look at fried chicken again after seeing William Friedkin’s adaptation of Tracy Letts’s play, a twisted redneck thriller in which McConaughey plays another dude in a cowboy hat—only this time a crooked cop who moonlights as a contract killer.

8. Contact

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Hot preacher alert! McConaughey plays a studly reverend and love interest to Jodie Foster’s skeptic scientist (who does believe in aliens, ironically) in this twisty sci-fi epic adapted from Carl Sagan’s novel.

7. Lone Star

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A small-town sheriff (Chris Cooper) investigates an unsolved murder that took place 40 years earlier. His mission to solve the crime opens up dark secrets about his town—as well as its former sheriff, his own father (played by McConaughey in flashbacks).

6. Frailty

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McConaughey plays a disturbed man who delivers a heavy load of news to an FBI agent: He believes his brother is a wanted serial killer, following in the footsteps of their deranged father. What unfolds is a disturbing gothic tale directed by Bill Paxton, in which the director plays a man convinced that God has given him the task to slay demons that walk among us.

5. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

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McConaughey spent a good chunk of his career in the ’00s playing the male lead in a slew of romantic comedies—so many, in fact, that it’s impossible to look past this era of his filmography. This one, in which he’s matched with a bubbly Kate Hudson, sees the dude playing foil to the female lead—he can’t quit her despite how hard she tries.

4. A Time to Kill


His breakout role saw McConaughey playing a sweaty southern lawyer (seriously, no courtrooms in the South have A/C?) representing a black man who murdered the white men who raped his daughter. It’s To Kill a Mockingbird meets John Grisham, and it offered the chance for McConaughey to show off his acting chops with an emotional courtroom monologue.

3. Magic Mike

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Before he was an Oscar-winning Serious Actor, McConaughey was a Texan hunk with a sun-kissed bod with abs for days. in Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper drama, he played a ripped mentor to Channing Tatum’s young dancer—building a bridge between his heartthrob days and the award-winner era.

2. Dallas Buyers Club

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McConaughey won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ron Woodruff, an AIDS patient who started his own drug distribution group in the mid 1980s when the government turned a blind eye to those afflicted with the disease. Yet another tough guy in a cowboy hat, McConaughey brings a warmth to the complex Woodruff in the role that ushered in the McConaissance.

1. Dazed and Confused

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Richard Linklater’s comic masterpiece introduced us to a lot of Hollywood’s great actors, but Matthew McConaughey might just has the best role as Wooderson, the townie who hangs out with high schoolers in an effort to hold onto to his glory days. This is the movie in which McConaughey uttered his most famous line: “You just gotta keep livin’, man… L-I-V-I-N.”

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