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All right, all right, all right! How Matthew McConaughey went from zero to Oscar contender Add to ...

Five years ago, Matthew McConaughey was a walking, tanning, beach-yoga-practising punchline. Now, after a John Travolta-like comeback, he has earned back his cred. We track a brief history of McConaughey’s ride from a zero to a perfect 10.

1993

McConaughey makes his big-screen debut as Wooderson, the just-this-side-of-sleazy cowboy in Dazed and Confused. His first line in the movie – “All right, all right, all right” – was improvised, inspired by a Jim Morrison lyric, and has since become the actor’s catchphrase. SCORE: 4.0

1996

A Time To Kill, with McConaughey in the lead role, hits No. 1 at the box office, thanks in no small part to what The New York Times calls his “captivating swagger.” SCORE: 9.0

1997-98

Starring opposite Jodie Foster (Contact) and appearing in a Steven Spielberg movie (Amistad) seem like savvy career moves, but both projects fall well short of expectations. Note to Spielberg: Nobody wants to see a sexy Texan in an ascot. SCORE: 7.0
Jack Plunkett/AP

1999

Police respond to a noise complaint at McConaughey’s home and find him nude, stoned and playing the bongo drums. The actor is arrested for resisting transport. SCORE: 4.5

2001

McConaughey embarks on a regrettable rom-com period, starring alongside Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner. Referencing the total lack of chemistry between the two stars, Roger Ebert writes: “McConaughey seems less enthused by this sudden new romance than resigned to it.” Ditto for his new career path. SCORE: 3.0

2008

Following a string of cinematic duds (Sahara, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold), the New York Daily News publishes a gossip piece about his drunk partying with co-eds in Nicaragua, while girlfriend Camila Alves is at home, nearly nine months pregnant. SCORE: 0.0

2011

His return to screen in the sleek thriller The Lincoln Lawyer proves that he can make a movie that doesn’t involve going topless … at least for the first 45 minutes. SCORE: 5.0

2012

A series of thoughtful projects with highbrow directors – Bernie, Killer Joe, The Paper Boy and Mud – act as a stabilizing force. The indie Magic Mike makes a bunch of money and wins him an Independent Spirit Award. SCORE: 6.0

2013

McConaughey loses 40 pounds to play redneck-turned-AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. Someone has his old swagger back. A brilliant cameo in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street further solidifies a return to the A-list. SCORE: 8.0
Mike Blake/Reuters

2014

McConaughey wins the Golden Globe and the SAG best-actor awards for Dallas Buyers Club. “All right, all right, all right” becomes the unofficial anthem of awards season. Meanwhile, True Detective is the buzziest TV event of the new year. His off-screen narrative may be what tips Oscar in his favour. SCORE: 9.5
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