Winning an Oscar is always a momentous occasion, but winning one’s first and possibly only Oscar is a major event in any life. Matthew McConaughey won his first Oscar for Best Actor of 2014 for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. His performance earned him outstanding reviews and his Oscar speech captivated watchers with its sincerity and grass roots wisdom. If you haven’t seen this Academy Award-winning performance, you may certainly want to catch a showing as the film also stars Jared Leto who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance opposite McConaughey.
Dallas Buyers Club is a biographical drama that was directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. McConaughey plays the real life Ron Woodruff, an AIDS patient who opposed the rules of the Food and Drug Administration by smuggling in illegal pharmaceutical drugs into the U.S. (drugs not approved by the FDA) for AIDS treatment and distributing them to other AIDS sufferers. The film opened in November 2013 to great acclaim and the Oscar buzz for McConaughey was already started from the get-go. The powerful topic called for an outstanding performance which McConaughey delivered with great poignancy.
The film highlights the struggle that AIDS patients faced in the 1980s and 1990s when AIDS treatments were still in their infancy. Although the story follows the biographical account of Woodruff’s life, it also recounts the lives of other participants in the program, their personal problems and their fight to obtain these potentially life-saving drugs that were too new and even too controversial at that early stage to win FDA approval. McConaughey demonstrates the inherent desperation of AIDS sufferers who were willing to try anything to find a cure and extend their lives.
McConaughey is no stranger to major films, of course, but he has not been an Oscar recipient before. In fact one of his earliest films, Dazed and Confused, certainly didn’t garner him a nomination; however, it did garner hip a cult following and helped launch him as a major film star. McConaughey has since that early role starred in a number of big-name films such as Amistad, U-571, The Wedding Planner, Sahara, The Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe, Mud, Magic Mike and many more. This Oscar win, however, cements his reputation as a world-class actor known for his talent and diverse roles.
McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas in 1969. The youngest of three sons, McConaughey lived with his parents who divorced and go back together repeatedly.
His father owned a gas station (and once played for the Green Bay Packers) and his mother taught kindergarten. McConaughey earned his Bachelor’s Degree in 1993 in Radio-Television-Film.
Yet even before graduating from college, McConaughey began acting in 1991 performing in television commercials. The actor’s big break came when he landed a part in the film Dazed and Confused which cast him as twenty-something still living an adolescent life and trying to pick up high school girls.
Many have described this part as, indeed, his breakout role. In fact, even McConaughey paid homage to this role when he concluded his Oscar speech with “alright, alright, alright,” lines he spoke in Dazed and Confused.
Today, McConaughey is married to Camila Alves, a Brazilian actress. The couple has three children. She and McConaughey’s mother were in attendance with him at the Academy Awards Ceremony. McConaughey’s win was not viewed as an upset as he was a serious contender for the award because of his riveting performance. He delighted the audience with his speech when he thanked God as well as his family. He also talked about chasing himself and pushing himself to be his own hero. His acceptance speech was, not surprisingly, one of the most colorful and memorable of the night.
Although McConaughey did a stint of light romantic comedic films for a period of his career, many of his most recent films have been independent. These films have allowed him to showcase his singular talent and to play challenging roles in seriously artistic and highly respected films. It will be exciting to see how this Oscar affects the actor and if it will influence which films he takes on next. In any case, Dallas Buyers Club is a must see film and by far is one of the most renowned movies of the year.