The 15 best Matthew McConaughey movies and TV shows, ranked

The acclaimed actor has "kept livin', man. L-I-V-I-N!"

<p>Mary Cybulski; Gramercy Pictures/Courtesy Everett; Michele K. Short/HBO</p>

Mary Cybulski; Gramercy Pictures/Courtesy Everett; Michele K. Short/HBO

Ever the charmer, Texas golden boy Matthew McConaughey got his start on the indie circuit in 1993 with Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. Only he could make the aging partier and human slimeball David Wooderson so endearing, and that charisma has remained a central pillar of his many performances. He's spent the last three decades in both comedic and dramatic roles, playing soulful fugitives, poetic lawmen, and coked-out buffoons with equal aplomb.

With that acting range in mind, here are the 15 best Matthew McConaughey movies and TV shows, ranked.

15. U-571 (2000)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

McConaughey jumped into the action genre with this WWII submarine thriller, playing a passed-over officer who is forced to lead a top-secret mission to hijack a crippled German U-boat in order to steal its Enigma encryption machine. It's perhaps the first time McConaughey got to show the grit behind the famous grin.

Where to watch U-571: Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

14. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

Sixty years ago, Cary Grant would've had the role of the dashing ad exec who bets he can make any woman fall in love with him in just 10 days, but unfortunately targets a blonde journalist writing a story on how to sabotage a relationship in the same span. For all the rom-com dreck he did, this is the one that's more pleasure than guilt.

Where to watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: Paramount+

13. The Beach Bum (2019)

Atsushi Nishijima/Neon
Atsushi Nishijima/Neon

Possible hot take: McConaughey is great in Harmony Korine's trippy comedy. We say possible hot take because EW's critic called McConaughey's Moondog the most annoying character of 2019. It's understandable how some might not take to the performance and movie, but consider us completely charmed by the actor's delightful turn as the hard-partying, women's clothes-wearing poet.

Where to watch The Beach Bum: Max

12. A Time to Kill (1996)

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Playing the heroic lawyer in John Grisham's sweaty Southern courtroom drama made McConaughey a star. Some fans will likely want to see this higher on the list, but the actor's performance is comparable to a young attorney working his first big case; there are flashes of brilliance, but he's still unsure of his own abilities.

Where to watch A Time to Kill: Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

11. Bernie (2011)

McConaughey switched sides to play the Texas district attorney tasked with convicting Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), the real-life mortician charged with murdering his elderly companion (Shirley MacLaine). He's sort of a buffoon, but a clever buffoon, and McConaughey knows exactly how far to take it.

Where to watch Bernie: Peacock

10. Frailty (2001)

McConaughey was then known for playing slick characters, so it was refreshing to see him assume the role of a mysterious, guilt-ridden man who comes to the FBI with news about a serial killer. It's a terrific performance that plays upon and twists our affection for him.

Where to watch Frailty: Tubi

9. Killer Joe (2011)

William Friedkin's adaptation of Tracy Letts' play was so inherently dark it got an NC-17 rating, and McConaughey plays a killer-for-hire whose soul is pitch black. But he brings a sense of propriety to his behavior that makes his bad deeds that much more shocking.

Where to watch Killer Joe: Amazon Prime Video

8. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Few knew it at the time — probably not even McConaughey — but this was the beginning of the McConaissance. In some ways, it's the same type of role he'd been playing for a decade, but he'd matured and perhaps finally understood his strengths as an actor. It's more Richard Gere in Primal Fear than Paul Newman in The Verdict, but it dwarfs what he did in A Time to Kill.

Where to watch The Lincoln Lawyer: Peacock

7. Tropic Thunder (2008)

McConaughey was a last-minute replacement to play the aptly named Hollywood agent, Rick Peck, after Owen Wilson dropped out. Memorably, Peck fights tooth and nail for contractual TiVo rights to Ben Stiller's doofus action star, Tugg Speedman; soon after, he's willing to let his client die in the jungle. But, Peck eventually saves the day, and the character and movie prove to be a comic high point for McConaughey.

Where to watch Tropic Thunder: Showtime

6. Mud (2012)

Dallas Buyers Club got all the ink, but McConaughey's performance as Mud, a lovesick fugitive who befriends two boys living on the Mississippi, is dripping with poetry and resonance. This is a classic role that would've been perfect for Robert Mitchum back in the day, and McConaughey knocks it out of the park.

Where to watch Mud: Max

5. Magic Mike (2012)

Claudette Barius
Claudette Barius

Quite simply, the list of actors who could've played Dallas, the dean of strippers, had only one name on it.

Where to watch Magic Mike: Tubi

4. Dazed and Confused (1993)

Director Richard Linklater feared that McConaughey was too good-looking for the creepy townie who refused to grow up, but the tiny role bloomed into something special when the 22-year-old no-name stepped on the set. Wooderson became such an essential McConaughey creation that his film company is named J.K. Livin Productions.

Where to watch Dazed and Confused: Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

3. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

The weight loss represented dedication, but the great achievement was the vulnerability McConaughey brought to Ron Woodroof, the promiscuous homophobe who became an unlikely leader of the 1980s Texas gay community after contracting AIDS and opening a barely legal meds-smuggling business. It was Oscar bait from the get-go, but it was an uncompromising performance that fit McConaughey like a pair of cozy cowboy boots.

Where to watch Dallas Buyers Club: Peacock

2. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Another actor could've played Mark Hanna, the Wall Street rainmaker who mentored Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). But few could've made the impact McConaughey did in just a handful of scenes, especially the lunch meeting that introduced Belfort and the audience to a through-the-looking-glass world of hedonism.

Where to watch The Wolf of Wall Street: Showtime

1. True Detective (2014)

Time is a flat circle where we remember how damn good McConaughey was on True Detective. While he was originally offered the role of straight man Marty Hart in the anthology series, McConaughey was rightfully drawn to Rust Cohle, the equally talented and troubled detective. McConaughey tore through long, juicy monologues like Cohle tore through beer cans, so much so that it might be time to go back.

Where to watch True Detective: Max

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Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.