Top 5 Movie Guide: Matthew McConaughey

In this week's edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we check out one of the stars of this weekend's "Magic Mike", Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey is a unique specimen when it comes to A-List actors, as he's never lived his life according to the standards of the industry. The son of a gas station owner, McConaughey grew up in rural Texas and spent his entire life in various small towns until the completion of his college career. But while in college in wasn't acting that McConaughey reached for - it was law. While there, he studied to become a criminal defense lawyer. And while he ended up taking a different route, a quick glance at McConaughey's filmography will show his interest in such things.

While it wasn't his first role, Matthew McConaughey gained popular success in Richard Linklater's 1993 cult favorite, "Dazed and Confused". He was only dabbling in the industry when Linklater, his friend, asked him to help read with auditioning actors in the film. He read opposite his now famous Wooderson role, until eventually he switched it up in need of showing Linklater how he thought the character should be approached. Instantly he knew McConaughey was perfect for the role and asked him if he'd like the part. At first uninterested, he eventually agreed, and the rest, we can say, is history.

Since then, McConaughey has acted in more than 30 different feature films, and has without a doubt become a household name with many different demographics. But no matter his success or fame, this laid back actor continues to do his own thing and abide by his trademarked life motto, Just Keep Livin'.

For a full rundown on which films we each see as the best from this actor's career, his the jump!

Alex Schopp -

     1. Dazed and Confused (1993)

This comes close to being in my top 10 favorite movies of all-time. I've always enjoyed the vibes this movie gives off, and it makes me yearn to have grown up in the 60's and 70's. McConaughey's character is quite cool in this film too - there's a point in every man's life when he's your idol.
     2. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
Yeah, I know. But aspects of this film connected with me, and I felt like what it had to say was quite powerful with where I was in life at the time. Also, it doesn't hurt that I love Jennifer Garner. The film has high watchability.
     3. Frailty (2001)
Bill Paxton is fantastic in this! Such an intense little picture. I've always loved stories that toe the line between believing something bigger is going on and just being completely insane.
     4. A Time to Kill (1996)
Great performances all around. McConaughey loves playing the attorney - this in my opinion is his best job of doing so.
     5. Failure to Launch (2006)
Another guilty pleasure film. There are aspects I dislike about this movie, but the storyline is also great for us Slackers. I like the entire cast in this one, and again, it's just easy to watch - it's a fantastic hangout background selection.

Ben Foutch -

     1. Dazed and Confused (1993)

"That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."
     2. Frailty (2001)
"Everything's just fine Becky. God's will has been served."
     3. Tropic Thunder (2008)
"I got the TiVo!"
     4. Edtv (1999)
"I'm sorry, Al, but I'm gonna have to pass. And it's not an age thing, 'cause you are still a handsome man."
     5. A Time to Kill (1996)
"If this is a party, boys, where's the chips and beer?"

Derek Clem -

     1. Reign Of Fire (2002)

I love his epicness and American patriotism in this film. He totally could have just become a Hollywood action star after this movie.
     2. Amistad (1997)
This was when we all thought he was going to become one our great American treasures as far as actors go.
     3. Tropic Thunder (2008)
I love his dedication and loyalty to Ben Stiller's character. The stereotype that everyone working in Hollywood is a slimy sneaky snake is shattered by McConaughey here.
     4. Contact (1997)
This choice is less about McConaughey, and more about making sure people see this under-appreciated film.
     5. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Here he plays the most quotable creep ever.

Nathan Hinds -
I feel like I should note that I haven't seen "Dazed and Confused". Also, I think McConaughey is a better actor than people give him credit for.

     1. Sahara (2005)

If I am watching TV (I rarely do anymore) and this is on, I will always watch it. I've always thought it was a really fun adventure film.
     2. Tropic Thunder (2008)
One of the best comedies in a long, long time. Derek summed up McConaughey's character really well, plus the scenes with him and Tom Cruise's character provided some of the best scenes in the movie.
     3. Angels In the Outfield (1994)
Pure nostalgia pick right here. Even though I hate baseball, I watched this all the time. I still like "The Sandlot" more, but "Angels In the Outfield" is the closest a movie has ever brought me to actually liking the sport of baseball.
     4. Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Great courtroom drama/thriller. Definitely one of McConaughey's better roles.
     5. Reign of Fire (2002)
I feel like peoples' perceptions of McConaughey would be entirely different if he had gravitated more towards these types of roles. A really solid apocalypse film.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Dazed and Confused (1993)

This is the best role he has ever done, this made him my hero...sort of.
     2. Contact (1997)
A great movie that a lot of people overlook either by accident or by choice. I have never understood what people truly had against this movie other than that maybe it's confusing? I suppose I should know now that if you mix unanswerable questions with aliens (i.e. "Prometheus"), people hate it. I guess I never got that strand of DNA though.
     3. Reign of Fire (2002)
I remember seeing the trailer for this and going "What the Flock is Matthew McConaughey doing in this!?" turned out to be a pretty decent little dragon/apocalypse popcorn flick grounded in as much reality as it can muster.
     4. We are Marshall (2006)
I'm not generally much of a sports fan but this is one of those movies where sports really aren't that integral to the goings-on of the plot. Its really good!
     5. My Boyfriend's Back (1993)
He is such a small part in this movie, but it should be recognized for what it is: Matthew's first movie! It's a nice little tale about high school crushes and voodoo witch doctors. If you get a chance, see it!

So there we have it, the best films of McConaughey's career according to us! Some notable repeat offenders, but overall there's a really nice variety listed above, spanning multiple genres. The film we start with though, which shouldn't be of much surprise to anyone who's seen it, is "Dazed and Confused". This was McConaughey's breakout role and helped launch his famed career. The film was already discussed at the beginning of this post, but we will say that it's a great film and really needs to be seen. The film appeared on four of the five lists, and sat in the number one spot on three of them.

Otherwise, there were two films with three selections, "Tropic Thunder" and "Reign of Fire". Both completely different movies, but both feature not only great performances from McConaughey himself, but also offer solid overall entertainment for the genres too. And only three other films had multiple selections, "Frailty", "A Time to Kill", and "Contact", each with two.

As always, we hope that each of these film selections helps you to expand your knowledge of Matthew McConaughey's filmography, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!