It’s become easy to write off the career of Matthew McConaughey because of some of the light nonsense he’s been in over the last few years.
All of which makes it hard to remember he was considered a good actor back when Amistad and A Time to Kill were in theaters.
Perhaps it’s fitting then that, like the good movies above, his return to quality had him playing an attorney in the Lincoln Lawyer.
Obviously, one fairly well received action movie does not make a career resurgence. However, a look at his current and upcoming filmography shows some promising news. It just might not look like it right away.
At first glance you’d be excused to be skeptical. If you were negative you might think he’s just playing a male stripper (Magic Mike), a hitman in a Thomas Hayden Church vehicle (Killer Joe), and second fiddle in a Jack Black drama(Bernie). This list doesn’t even include the movie that recently made news because one star pees on another (The Paperboy).
However, that wouldn’t be altogether fair to McConaughey. For example, each movie is directed by a remarkably talented director (Stephen Soderbergh, William Friedkin, Richard Linklater, and Lee Daniels respectively).
Of course no movie is guaranteed success. It really only shows the decision making process of choosing in which movie to appear. In working with quality directors, he is trying to tilt the likelihood of being in a well-crafted movie. In these particular pieces, he’s trading being the star for playing quirky parts that show off his acting ability. Finally, since these films are a bit offbeat and less likely to be box office smashes, he probably had to take a pay cut.
Why would an actor do this? Why would he suddenly start making the “right” movies?
Politically speaking, there’s two ways to look at it.
If you are a big government person, maybe you think he is making a unilateral decision because he knows what’s best for himself. He’s already made plenty of money, why not make some good films?
Or maybe you’re a market person. Maybe you think it’s not his choice at all. It’s a higher power. McConaughey isn’t the star of big movies anymore because the market will no longer reward him at the box office and the studios or directors don’t want to put him in that position.
The answer is probably somewhere in between the two, but as the economic debate has taught everybody, you should probably pick one and fervently argue about how dumb the other one is.