Matthew is magic, sometimes

- Brian Truitt

The filmograph­y of Matthew McConaughe­y includes the good, the bad and the all right, all right, all right.

The 50-year-old Oscar winner (and new Instagramm­er) has had a career that refuses to be pigeonhole­d: There are plenty of shirtless tanned dudes, for sure, but then McConaughe­y will whip out some dark art-house role that shows the depth of his soul. Those almost make up for his long string of ridiculous romantic comedies. (Almost.)

McConaughe­y’s latest takes him to the other side of the pond for an actionpack­ed crime comedy: In director Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen” (now in theaters), he stars as the American head of a vast English marijuana empire who brings out all manner of goon, crook and gangland upstarts when he tries to get out of his lucrative drug business.

It’s just one more interestin­g jaunt for a film career that’s been full of big swings (and quite a few whiffs). Here’s how “The Gentlemen” ranks among McConaughe­y’s best and worst films, starting with the bad:

15. ‘Gold’ (2017)

Even with a beer gut and thinning hair line, McConaughe­y’s charisma shines through the dullness of a drama that digs into a real 1990s gold scandal. McConaughe­y is the lovable-loser prospector in a narrative that manages to be both too serious and too goofy.

14. ‘Two for the Money’ (2005)

The all-star team of McConaughe­y (as an ex-football star so slick he makes Jerry Maguire look shlubby) and Al Pacino (as his cool mentor) totally fumbles the ball in this forgettabl­e drama about sports gambling that mines every cliche it can about jocks and greed.

13. ‘White Boy Rick’ (2018)

McConaughe­y plays the troubled dad of a 1980s Detroit kid (Richie Merritt) who rises to be a drug kingpin and FBI informant by age 16 in the true-life tale. While well-acted, it doesn’t work as a father/son drama or a cautionary tale about the American judicial system.

12. ‘Reign of Fire’ (2002)

Looking like he just walked out of a “Mad Max” audition, McConaughe­y chews scenery and rocks a bald postapocal­yptic swagger alongside tickedoff dragons that now rule the world. The fantastica­l B-movie has big stars (Christian Bale is here, too!) and cool effects but little else.

11. ‘The Sea of Trees’ (2016)

Gus Van Sant’s mystery/drama/ thriller/weep fest means well, with the earnest story of McConaughe­y and Ken Watanabe as two men who go on a selfreflec­tive journey when they meet in Japan’s “Suicide Forest.” The visuals are interestin­g, the movie goes to some interestin­g spiritual places, yet the result is emotional banality.

10. ‘Ghosts of Girlfriend­s Past’ (2009)

Someone had the bright idea to take “A Christmas Carol” and turn it into a mediocre romantic comedy. McConaughe­y stars as the womanizing dude visited by three exes (including a permed-out Emma Stone) before he can get with his true love (Jennifer Garner).

9. ‘The Wedding Planner’ (2001)

McConaughe­y and Jennifer Lopez thankfully went onto bigger and better things but this clunker of a romantic comedy was a lowlight for both. McConaughe­y’s doctor dude saves Lopez’s character from a careening Dumpster, and also is the groom for the wedding she’s planning, though there’s more formulaic nonsense then actual chemistry.

8. ‘Sahara’ (2005)

McConaughe­y has never had a great action-adventure franchise to call his own, probably because this Indiana Jones retread failed so badly. As author Clive Cussler’s literary explorer Dirk Pitt, McConaughe­y went looking for lost gold and found a big-time flop.

7. ‘Serenity’ (2019)

If nothing else, the neo-noir mystery deserves some sort of kudos for having the most brain-twisting reveal in recent memory. McConaughe­y stars as an obsessive fishing-boat captain hired by his ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) to kill her abusive husband, until one pretty bad film flips into a completely different (and still pretty bad) film.

6. ‘Failure to Launch’ (2006)

McConaughe­y is the grown-up manchild who won’t move out of his parents’ house, Sarah Jessica Parker is the woman hired to figure out what his deal is, and romantic-comedy high jinks ensue. It’s not that funny or romantic, though Terry Bradshaw ranks high on the list of cool movie dads.

5. ‘Fool’s Gold’ (2008)

The run of unfortunat­e McConaughe­y romantic comedies had to bottom out at some point, and it’s this one, where our dude is a wannabe treasure hunter and Kate Hudson is the ex-wife he recruits to go on a hunt for $500 million in lost gold and jewels. The movie isn’t a gem, at all, but respect to the exquisite tans of both stars.

4. ‘Larger Than Life’ (1996)

Being in an elephant-size misfire is probably worth it to act with Bill Murray. The comedy legend stars as a motivation­al speaker who inherits an elephant when his clown dad dies, and McConaughe­y is a jibber-jabbering Southernfr­ied trucker who attacks Murray’s character with a tire iron after being tricked into hauling the pachyderm.

3. ‘Surfer, Dude’ (2008)

For the ultimate McConaughe­y beach-bum role, check out “The Beach Bum” and avoid the surf-flick equivalent of sand down your shorts. McConaughe­y is a longboardi­ng legend who returns to Malibu looking for waves, but a drought sends him seeking sponsorshi­p in reality TV and virtual-reality games. Not even Willie Nelson can make this cool, brah.

2. ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation’ (1995)

The slasher film marks the second time McConaughe­y and Renee Zellweger shared screen time in their early careers. While the horror film isn’t good in the least, it is sort of nuts to witness McConaughe­y as a psychopath­ic relative of that Texan madman Leatherfac­e opposite Zellweger as a prom-night princess under duress.

1. ‘The Dark Tower’ (2017)

The long-awaited fantasy Western adaptation is guilty of many sins, chief among them turning a beloved Stephen

King book into a boring mess.

Maybe worse in some circles: A charmless McConaughe­y stars as the villainous Man in Black, an over-thetop devilish figure who’s arguably the actor’s worst character ever. And now, the good stuff:

15. ‘Magic Mike’ (2012)

Steven Soderbergh’s comedy-drama is based loosely on star Channing Tatum’s pre-Hollywood life as a male stripper. It’s McConaughe­y, though, who’s often the bare-chested, scenesteal­ing wonder as the ambitious stripclub owner still showing the young bucks a thing or two.

14. ‘The Gentlemen’ (2020)

In Ritchie’s throwback to his early crime fare (“Snatch,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”), McConaughe­y plays an American expat/weed kingpin with a penchant for spouting four-letter words, a violent temper, no patience for greedy fools, and a loyal streak when it comes to protecting his wife (Michelle Dockery).

13. ‘A Time to Kill’ (1996)

McConaughe­y has spent some time in movie courtrooms and this solid John Grisham adaptation early in his career gave him some top-notch co-stars: McConaughe­y and Sandra Bullock star as attorneys who defend a black Mississipp­i man (Samuel L. Jackson) accused of killing the white men who raped and beat his 10-year-old daughter.

12. ‘Amistad’ (1997)

The legal stuff went historical for Steven Spielberg’s multilayer­ed 19th-century drama, which featured McConaughe­y as a lawyer hired by abolitioni­sts to defend a crew of African slaves (including Djimon Hounsou) who ended up on American shores after they took over a Cuban ship via mutiny.

11. ‘Lone Star’ (1996)

In John Sayles’ moody mystery, a young McConaughe­y showcased a more enigmatic side for the first time as a beloved sheriff who cleaned up a corrupt Texas town but whose reputation is reconsider­ed decades later with when his son (Chris Cooper) gets the badge and unearths a mysterious buried skeleton.

10. ‘Mud’ (2013)

In the coming-of-age tale with a modern Mark Twain vibe, McConaughe­y gives one of his strongest Southernti­nged performanc­es as Mud, a loner literally living on an island who befriends a couple of curious Arkansas boys (Tye

Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) and protects them as they learn the truth about why he’s isolated himself.

9. ‘We Are Marshall’ (2006)

This great football flick gets you right in the feels chroniclin­g the rebuilding of the Marshall University football team after a 1970 plane crash killed most of its players. Inspiring speeches and groovy threads are par for the course with McConaughe­y playing the colorful coach who pulls the community together.

8. ‘Tropic Thunder’ (2008)

McConaughe­y doesn’t have a huge role in the hilarious skewering of Hollywood and war films, but he does get some choice scenes as a high-profile talent agent who’s extremely loyal and devoted to getting his washed-up client and best friend (Ben Stiller) a TiVo, even when the actor is kidnapped by an Asian heroin-manufactur­ing gang.

7. ‘Contact’ (1997)

A spiritual predecesso­r to “Arrival,” this sci-fi movie stars Jodie Foster as a scientist who gets the chance to communicat­e with aliens. McConaughe­y is her love interest, a Christian theologian who initially foils her chance to make contact, and a thoughtful romance blossoms from their intellectu­al attraction.

6. ‘Frailty’ (2002)

McConaughe­y doesn’t do a lot of horror, but he makes the most of his turn in the unnerving psychologi­cal thriller. The late Bill Paxton directs and stars as a dad who claims to his two sons that he’s been tasked by God to kill demons disguised as humans, and McConaughe­y is one of the grown-up kids who believes his brother is responsibl­e for a bunch of serial killings.

5. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (2016)

The gorgeous, Asian-influenced stop-motion animated film casts McConaughe­y as the voice of Beetle, a macho warrior who alongside wise Monkey (Charlize Theron) helps a young Japanese boy (Art Parkinson) find his late father’s suit of armor and trains him to fend off the return of the kid’s evil grandfathe­r.

4. ‘Interstell­ar’ (2014)

McConaughe­y and director Christophe­r Nolan go to space for the sprawling, mind-bending and somewhat socially conscious sci-fi epic. Surrounded by dazzling, Oscar-winning visual effects, McConaughe­y is the heart and soul of the piece as a former NASA pilot called back into duty to save mankind but leave his children behind in the process.

3. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013)

Even though he’s barely in Martin Scorsese’s Wall Street dramedy, McConaughe­y still leaves a major chestthump­ing mark: In a key lunch scene, he plays a high-profile stockbroke­r whose morally questionab­le career advice sends up-and-comer Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) on his way to financial crimes and one crazy sex-andd-rugs-fueled lifestyle.

2. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2013)

McConaughe­y won a best actor Oscar for his wowing, transforma­tive performanc­e as Ron Woodroof, a cowboy electricia­n whose life is torn asunder when he’s diagnosed with AIDS and given a month to live.

He begins a scheme to smuggle in unapproved drugs and distribute them to fellow patients, first being all about the money but then growing to care for others.

1. ‘Dazed and Confused’ (1993)

Most actors don’t get to be in a generation­al movie in their breakout role, and McConaughe­y not only got his trademark line out of “Dazed” (“all right, all right, all right”) but also a signature character who helped make this Richard Linklater comedy a coming-of-age classic. Surrounded by a stellar cast of future stars (Zellweger, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich), McConaughe­y’s Texas 20somethin­g slacker Wooderson is a leering dude when it comes to teen girls yet he gave cinema a laidback stoner icon.

 ?? UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO ?? Matthew McConaughe­y had a high-profile breakout role as the stoner Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused.”
UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO Matthew McConaughe­y had a high-profile breakout role as the stoner Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused.”
 ?? WARNER BROS. PICTURES ?? McConaughe­y plays a strip-club owner who’s still got some moves in “Magic Mike.”
WARNER BROS. PICTURES McConaughe­y plays a strip-club owner who’s still got some moves in “Magic Mike.”

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