The so-called “McConaissance” is complete now that Matthew McConaughey, shirtless hunk-turned-serious thespian, has won Best Actor for his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He did it on his first nomination.
While that may seem like an impressive feat, he’s actually the 12th to do so in the last quarter-century. That means almost half of the last 25 Best Actor winners have taken home gold on their very first try.
The last 11 were:
2011: Jean Dujardin (“The Artist“)
2006: Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”)
2005: Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”)
2004: Jamie Foxx (“Ray”)
2002: Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”)
1998: Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful”)
1996: Geoffrey Rush (“Shine”)
1995: Nicolas Cage (“Leaving Las Vegas”)
1991: Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”)
1990: Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”)
1989: Daniel Day-Lewis (“My Left Foot”)
So what does the future hold for McConaughey? He was already an established star when “Dallas Buyers Club” came around, with several acclaimed performances under his belt (“Mud,” “Magic Mike,” “Bernie”). Considering his predecessors, that helps an actor’s post-Oscar longevity.
Other first-timers who already had impressive resumes have had continued success. Hopkins earned three more nominations. Irons has worked consistently since his win, though he has never received another nod. Hoffman also earned three additional Oscar bids and would surely have earned more had it not been for his untimely death to drug abuse this year.
For relative newcomers, sudden Oscar success can be a mixed bag. Day-Lewis, at 32, was the seventh youngest Best Actor winner ever when he prevailed for “My Left Foot,” and he has since become the most awarded lead actor in Oscar history with two more wins for “There Will Be Blood” (2007) and “Lincoln” (2012).
But relative unknowns Benigni and Brody struggled to follow up on their initial successes. Neither has come close to returning to Oscar glory since their wins. Benigni even “won” a Razzie for “Pinocchio” in 2003. Time will tell if Dujardin has similar difficulty, though with respectable follow-up roles in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Monuments Men,” he’s off to a pretty good start.
Will McConaughey have continued success, or has he peaked? His current performance in HBO’s “True Detective” suggests that he might have a bright awards future. Discuss below in the comments.