The “True Detective” effect could strike again this awards season, this time for Mahershala Ali. It will all depend on whether he will be granted a much-predicted supporting actor Oscar spot for his role as real-life jazz musician Don Shirley in the ’60s road-trip pic “Green Book” when the Academy Awards nominations are announced on Tuesday. Ali has already won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for his performance and he is in the running for Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA honors.
Of course, Ali has a supporting trophy for his benevolent drug dealer in 2016’s “Moonlight,” which also took Best Picture. He got a boost then from co-starring in another Best Picture nominee that year, “Hidden Figures.” But that can’t beat a guaranteed weekly TV appearance in a well-regarded series that could help him abscond with another Oscar. Just ask Matthew McConaughey how “True Detective” offered him invaluable exposure in a very different role.
Remember when the laid-back Texan was undergoing a so-called McConnaissance that culminated with him not just being nominated for his first-ever Oscar, but taking home a statuette for his role as real-life rodeo rider turned AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club.” It was when the onetime Sexiest Man Alive suddenly left the world of so-so romantic comedies behind and lived up to the potential he first displayed in 1996’s “A Time to Kill” in a string of top-notch performances in such films as “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Bernie,” “Mud” and “Magic Mike.” He also triumphed at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes.
But the project that really sealed the deal on an Academy Award was being cast in the first season of HBO’s off-beat crime saga “True Detective”alongside an equally powerful Woody Harrelson. The series became must-see TV, becoming HBO’s most-watched show in its first season, and was the talk of the Internet with countless theories about how the solution to a string of cultish Louisiana murders would all end. But even more importantly, the eight-episode series airing from January 12 to March 9 coincided with Hollywood’s awards season (the Oscars telecast was on March 2 that year). That meant voters would get a heaping extra helping of McConaughey every Sunday night as they pondered their ballots.
Now here comes Mahershala Ali in the third season of “True Detective,” whose first two episodes premiered on January 13 and will wrap up February 24 — which just happens to be the day of the Oscar telecast this year. Who knows? There is no need for a Mahernaissance since Ali is in demand and chooses his projects wisely. But, conversely, Ali’s Oscar exposure could help his chances at claiming his first Emmy next September. Though he was nominated for “True Detective, that is one prize McConaughey didn’t win that year.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.