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I think we can all agree this has been the year of Matthew McConaughey. The oft-ridiculed Texan (even Matt Damon has been at it) with an angular face, washboard abs and enough southern charm to fill a KFC outlet, has shown us all in 2012 that, yes, he can actually act. Chances are he’ll at least grab a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars next year for his role in Magic Mike.

First coming to prominence in Dazed and Confused and A Time to Kill, McConaughey quickly became the bland rom-com lead du jour, and despite the odd dramatic turn in the likes of Reign of Fire and Two for The Money, burrowed into said niche and stayed there comfortably for quite some time.

This comeback-of-sorts started in 2011, and next year is going to be particularly saturated (or should I say Matturated?), with Mud, The Paperboy, The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyer’s Club. So before we leave one year full of McConaughey-filled goodness and enter another, let’s look back at some of the best and the worst the naked bongo-player has to offer (never understood that).

 

5 Performances That Were Awesome:

5. Rick Peck – Tropic Thunder

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This was the first time I could actually bear to watch a McConaughey’s performance. He could easily have drowned in a stunning ensemble: Stiller, Downey Jr, Black (being funny for the first time since School of Rock), Nolte, Cruise, Coogan all at his side, but he still remains one of the best things in the movie as Rick Peck, a sly but ultimately loyal agent to Stiller’s fading action star, Tugg Speedman.

A lot of the film’s best moments involve McConaughey, and it’s not hard to see why Stiller recruited him. McConaughey stepped in to replace Owen Wilson, but frankly I’m glad he did. He totally sends up the image of a tanned, blonde, carefree douche without ever becoming irritating or cocky, and is actually genuinely very likable as a devoted friend. He’s a lot more honest than many of the selfish, idiotic characters, despite all of them being hilarious.

The man’s ignorant single-mindedness is breathtaking, and there are not many who could stand toe-to-toe with Cruise in a comedic career high. And the fact he gives one of the best lines of the movie – “I got your TiVo!” – towards the end of the flick only sweetens the deal. As a result, this is definitely McConaughey’s funniest performance. If only we saw some more of his comic chops in the dire rom-coms he is best known for, they might not be so bad. Anyway, he’s a hell of a lot funnier than Danny McBride or Jay Baruchel, that’s for sure.

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This article was first posted on January 4, 2013