Matthew McConaughey’s Best Movies, Ranked


  • Matthew McConaughey’s versatile career balances comedies and profound dramas, leading to his Oscar win in 2014.
  • McConaughey’s standout performances include his role in Amistad with a talented ensemble cast and in The Lincoln Lawyer as a suave lawyer.
  • From supporting roles in Magic Mike to leading roles in Mud and Interstellar, McConaughey showcases his range and talent in diverse projects.



Matthew McConaughey’s movies have cemented him as one of the most versatile actors working in Hollywood, maintaining a good balance between comedies and profound dramas. McConaughey has been a major presence in movies since the early ’90s, following his breakout performance in the cult classic Dazed and Confused. He became a leading man and then fell into an era of forgettable rom-coms before staging one of the best Hollywood comebacks, leading to his Oscar win in 2014.

The actor has even dabbled in television with McConaughey’s True Detective role further signaling his comeback while he may return to the small screen in a new Yellowstone series. He has been open to new film franchises, such as the animated Sing series. Never one to attach himself to a single genre, he has explored many unique projects with several renowned directors, from Martin Scorsese to Christopher Nolan. Even with such a consistent filmography, however, these movies stand out as McConaughey’s best.

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17 Amistad (1997)

McConaughey Features In Steven Speilberg’s Historic Legal Drama


The pairing of Matthew McConaughey and Steven Spielberg would seemingly be a big deal, but Amistad remains a strangely underrated movie in both of their careers. Amistad is based on a true story about a group of illegally captured slaves who rebel against their ship and kill their captors only to sail into American territory to be arrested. What follows is a court case to determine who owns these slaves or if they are actually free.

McConaughey is part of the terrific ensemble as the determined lawyer who is fighting for the rights of the captives. The cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, and Djimon Honsou in a breakout role as the leader of the captives. It makes for a gripping and emotional courtroom drama that is elevated by a master filmmaker and a collection of great actors.

16 The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

McConaughey Plays A Suave Lawyer In This Thriller

Though there are some who might know this better as the Netflix series of the same name, the first adaptation of Michael Connelly’s crime novel came from this Hollywood movie starring Matthew McConaughey.

He plays the confident and smooth defense lawyer Mick Haller, a man who operates his business out of his Lincoln car. However, when he takes on a case of a rich man accused of assault, he begins to see links to a previous case.

This was one of the movies that served as a stepping stone towards McConaughey’s comeback in Hollywood with it proving to be a modest box office hit that was praised by critics as a fun and sharp thriller. The Lincoln Lawyer may not be as deep as some of the other movies in the actor’s filmography, but it is a solid and engaging story that is elevated by McConaughey’s movie star performance.

15 A Time To Kill (1996)

McConaughey And Samuel L. Jackson Lead An Intense Courtroom Drama

Matthew McConaughey in court in A Time to Kill

Matthew McConaughey headlined another high-profile courtroom drama with a big cast in A Time to Kill. Adapted from the John Grisham novel of the same name, Samuel L. Jackson stars as a working-class father who takes the law into his own hands when he kills the men who brutally attacked his young daughter.

When he is arrested for murder, McConaughey plays the noble young lawyer who takes on the case to defend him amid simmering racial tension in the small Southern community. The movie is at times harrowing, thrilling, and uplifting as it becomes a desperate fight for justice while fighting against the racist forces attempting to intimidate.

Jackson is the star of the show, delivering a powerful performance in the lead role but McConaughey is also effective in the heroic co-lead role. They are joined by the likes of Sandra Bullock, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Spacey to build the impressive ensemble.

14 Frailty (2000)

McConaughey Leads A Dark Thriller Directed By Bill Paxton

Matthew McConaughey as Fenton looking tense in Frailty

Frailty is one of the most overlooked movies in Matthew McConaughey’s career and a terrific thriller. Directed by Bill Paxton, the actor also plays the role of a father of two young sons who becomes convinced he has been chosen by God for a special mission of wiping evil from the earth.

He begins taking people he insists are demons in disguise, and with the help of his sons, executes them. McConaughey plays one of the sons who, years later, details his father’s crimes to an FBI agent. This is a small and very dark thriller which makes for an impressive directorial debut by Paxton.

It keeps the audience guessing as to what the truth is, whether the father has become an instrument of God or if he is simply a murderer. McConaughey’s role is not very big in the movie, but he plays into the terrific twist ending that elevates the movie into a truly memorable thriller.

13 Magic Mike (2012)

Channing Tatum’s Comedy Drama With McConaughey As The Villain


Though he is still one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Matthew McConaughey has proven that he is willing to take on supporting roles in movies. He has further proven that when he does take on those smaller roles, he is often able to completely steal the show.

Such is the case in Magic Mike, the comedic drama starring Channing Tatum as a male dancer who begins to question his future in the business. Tatum makes for a charming lead for the movie, but McConaughey commands the screen whenever he appears as Dallas, the boss of the show who proves that he cares about his dancers only so long as they are making him money.

It is a fun performance which also gives McConaughey the chance to play the villain role which he does so well. With director Steven Soderbergh helming the project, Magic Mike is a much more engrossing and layered movie than the audience might have expected.

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12 How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)

McConaughey And Kate Hudson Make For An Ideal Rom-Com Match

Kate Hudson and Matthew Maconoughey with a small dog in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Dates

How to Lose A Guy In 10 Days

Director Donald Petrie Release Date February 7, 2003 Cast Kate Hudson , Matthew McConaughey , Kathryn Hahn , Annie Parisse , adam goldberg , Thomas Lennon Runtime 116 minutes

Although critics weren’t overly impressed by How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, given its 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience’s invigorating response to the movie makes it one of Matthew McConaughey’s most memorable romantic comedies. McConaughey and Kate Hudson have wonderful chemistry together in a charming and funny collaboration. It makes for the best out of McConaughey’s many rom-com movies.

McConaughey plays Benjamin, a man who wants to prove he’s capable of making any woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Of course, he meets and instead falls for Hudson’s Andie, who is researching how to get a man to leave a woman in 10 days. It is a silly rom-com premise that can be overlooked thanks to the two leads elevating the script and making for a perfect duo.

11 Sing (2016)

McConaughey Lends His Voice To The Animated Movie Filled With Pop Songs

Buster Moon addressing the singing contestants in Sing

Sing (2016)

Director Garth Jennings , Christophe Lourdelet Release Date December 21, 2016 Cast Matthew McConaughey , Reese Witherspoon , Seth MacFarlane , Scarlett Johansson , John C. Reilly , Taron Egerton , Tori Kelly Runtime 108 minutes

Matthew McConaughey clearly had fun playing Buster Moon in Sing, but that’s not the only reason he decided to come back for a sequel five years later. The original was a massive box office hit, grossing over $600 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).

The story of his theater-producer character and friends hosting a singing competition had the potential for many more movies. Sing delivers an ideal family-friendly watching experience with an ingenious premise of having adorable animals singing popular songs.

McConaughey gives all his heart to his performance as the voice of the charismatic koala, which even had him singing “Call Me Maybe” with Scarlett Johansson. While the sequel did not feel quite as fresh as the fun of this movie, it was another hit making it no surprise that Sing 3 is on its way.

10 Killer Joe (2011)

McConaughey Plays A Ruthless Killer For Hire


Killer Joe might be an outlier in Matthew McConaughey’s movie career, as its violent nature and outrageous dark humor are definitely not for everyone. Still, the always-alluring McConaughey takes the assignment seriously with a distressing performance.

Directed by the prestigious William Friedkin, Killer Joe follows McConaughey’s titular detective as he accepts the task of killing a drug dealer’s evil mother, but demands an unsettling price for the job.

McConaughey gives life to another Texan character here, yet Joe is different from any other part he’s played, as the role made him engage in some of the most uncomfortable scenes he’s ever taken part in. It is often one of the forgotten movies that marked his comeback but features McConaughey’s most chilling performance. Within the era of his career filled with light rom-coms, this became a shocking reminder of his versatility.

9 Contact (1997)

McConaughey Joins Jodie Foster In The Search For Alien Life

Matthew McConaughey and Jodie Foster looking up into the night sky in Contact

Contact (1997)

Director Robert Zemeckis Release Date July 11, 1997 Cast Jodie Foster , Matthew McConaughey , James Woods , John Hurt , Tom Skerritt

Given how big of a star McConaughey became in Hollywood, it is always interesting to look back on his career’s earlier moments with him taking supporting roles opposite big names. Contact features a sci-fi story mostly grounded in reality while following a scientist forced to challenge her faith and beliefs after successfully tracking alien intelligence. The Carl Sagan adaptation only gets better as time progresses, constantly becoming more relevant year after year.

In the movie, Matthew McConaughey plays a smaller role as one of Jodie Foster’s protagonist’s love interests, but his character is a key part of an everlasting message about enduring love and faith in times when reality can’t be trusted. While it didn’t thrive at the box office, Contact is now considered a cult classic among movies about extraterrestrial encounters with director Robert Zemeckis crafting a gripping slow-burn experience.

8 Tropic Thunder (2008)

McConaughey Joins An All-Star Cast In This Hollywood Satire

Matthew McConaughey looking shocked in Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder

Director Ben Stiller Release Date August 13, 2008 Cast Ben Stiller , Robert Downey Jr. , Matthew McConaughey , Tom Cruise , Jack Black Runtime 107 minutes

This is another movie in which McConaughey is in a supporting role but manages to stand out amid a sea of big-name stars with a funny performance. Tropic Thunder masterfully mixes war themes with comedy despite primarily being a movie about filmmaking.

Offering thrilling action scenes with hilarious behind-the-scenes drama, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also features a stellar comedy cast with many big actors, such as Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, and Tom Cruise, all delivering hilarious performances.

Matthew McConaughey gets in on the Hollywood satire as the vain agent to Stiller’s needy action movie star. While the movie has plenty of controversy that has followed it around for years, it remains one of the funniest comedies of the 21st century. It is not only a bold movie that tackles some taboo subject matter, including Robert Downey Jr’s blackface performance, but it is also a hilarious action movie as well.

7 The Gentlemen (2019)

McConaughey Leads Guy Ritchie’s British Crime Caper

The cast of The Gentlemen posing in a poster, including Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, and Henry Golding

The Gentlemen

Director Guy Ritchie Release Date January 24, 2020 Cast Henry Golding , Jeremy Strong , Matthew McConaughey , Colin Farrell , Hugh Grant , Charlie Hunnam , Michelle Dockery Runtime 113 minutes

Matthew McConaughey is the perfect actor to star in a Guy Ritchie movie because he knows exactly when to shift from comedy to drama, and The Gentlemen is another Ritchie effort that aims to be more than one thing at once. In the movie, McConaughey plays an American in London eager to cash out of his marijuana empire.

As can be expected from Ritchie, there are plenty of plot twists abounding as many peculiar characters try to get the upper hand over one another. A success among critics and audiences, The Gentlemen offered a satisfying return to form for Richie, stepping back into the British crime world while McConaughey provided a surprisingly effective American movie star flare to the movie. He is joined by an all-star cast, including Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, and Charlie Hunnam.

6 Lone Star (1996)

McConaughey Plays A Flawed Lawman At The Center Of A Mystery

Matthew McConaughey looking suspicious In Lone Star

Fans of the later movies of McConaughey’s career will be well rewarded in checking out this incredible and underrated neo-noir movie from his earlier days in Hollywood. Matthew McConaughey’s character in Lone Star is the controversial local hero Sheriff Buddy Deeds in a neo-Western that jumps between timelines as a mystery unfolds.

Possibly the greatest deep cut in McConaughey’s career, Lone Star is a modern Western that sets up a murder mystery to uncover a puzzling conspiracy plot. Chris Cooper is also excellent as Buddy’s son who is now a lawman in his own right and looking back on the legacy of his father.

Under a constant atmosphere of suspicion, the movie offers an intriguing narrative while delving deep into each character’s psyche. Although criminally under-seen, Lone Star has 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and is the perfect option for those who enjoy McConaughey’s performances in crime thrillers.

5 Dazed And Confused (1992)

The 70s-set Hangout Movie Features McConaughey’s Breakout Performance


Dazed and Confused

Director Richard Linklater Release Date September 24, 1993 Cast Jason London , Wiley Wiggins , Matthew McConaughey , Rory Cochrane , Joey Lauren Adams , Milla Jovovich Runtime 102 minutes

Dazed and Confused perfectly captures the idiosyncrasies of the ’70s through Richard Linklater’s slice-of-life story. Taking place over the course of 24 hours, the movie introduces many characters who come in and out of teenagers Floyd and Mitch’s sight as they experience an epic hangout on the last day of school: the former as the star football player; the latter as an incoming freshman trying to fit in.

Among other movie stars debuts like Ben Affleck, Mila Jovovich, and Cole Hauser, Dazed and Confused offers Matthew McConaughey’s breakthrough performance. He plays Wooderson, a minor yet iconic character who steals every scene he’s in and delivers the first taste of what’s become McConaughey’s most famous line, “Alright, alright, alright.” The fact that McConaughey’s role was meant to be quite small only for him to impress Linklater with his take on the character and expand it adds to the thrill of watching the crowd-pleasing performance.

4 The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

McConaughey Steals Scenes In Scorsese’s Outrageous R-Rated Comedy

Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hana thumping his chest in The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

Director Martin Scorsese Release Date December 25, 2013 Cast Margot Robbie , Leonardo DiCaprio , Jonah Hill , Kyle Chandler Runtime 3hours

Though he has a small role in Martin Scorsese’s wild Wall Street crime story, Matthew McConaughey’s chant in The Wolf of Wall Street cemented him as one of the most memorable aspects of the movie. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the true story of Jordan Belfort, a corrupt New York stockbroker as he rises to the top in a world of debauchery and excess before being caught in a massive fraud scandal.

In The Wolf of Wall Street, McConaughey is the center of attention whenever he’s onscreen with his charismatic yet uncomfortable supporting role as Mark Hanna, a real-life figure who dominated the stock market in the ’80s, and the movie could have used more of him. Scorsese brings a vibrant energy and wild sense of humor to the movie that spirals into chaos as it goes.

Collage of Wolf of Wall Street characters
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3 Mud (2012)

McConaughey Started His Comeback As A Mysterious Drifter

Matthew McConaughey looking concerned in Mud


Director Jeff Nichols Release Date April 26, 2013 Cast Tye Sheridan , Reese Witherspoon , Jacob Lofland , Matthew McConaughey , Sam Shepard Runtime 130 minutes

Mud is Matthew McConaughey’s highest-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 97% critic score. It also broke records when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival by registering an 18-minute-long standing ovation.

Featuring an outstanding comeback performance from McConaughey, Mud is a surprisingly sweet drama about two boys who befriend a fugitive and help him escape. The movie is partially a coming-of-age story as it follows a young boy dealing with his parents’ marriage falling apart when he meets a mysterious man on the run (McConaughey) and decides to help him reunite with his former love.

The story addresses subtle political themes through its interesting clash of generations, between the boys trying to evade reality and the fugitive trying to outrun his past. McConaughey carries the movie with a succinct performance from beginning to end.

2 Interstellar (2014)

McConaughey Leads Christopher Nolan’s Sci-Fi Drama



Director Christopher Nolan Release Date November 7, 2014 Cast Anne Hathaway , Matthew McConaughey , Jessica Chastain , Ellen Burstyn , Michael Caine , Bill Irwin Runtime 2h 49m

Perhaps Matthew McConaughey’s most popular work, this subversive sci-fi movie from Christopher Nolan turns out to be much more emotionally powerful than expected. Interstellar owes its tear-jerking power to McConaughey’s sensitive performance as a man stuck between doing the right thing for humanity and taking care of his daughter as a competent father. Set in the future in which the planet is dying, McConaughey plays a widowed father who takes a mission to go into space to find a new habitable planet.

Between otherworldly landscapes and moments of extreme danger, McConaughey is there to remind the audience that this is a story about humanity and the ties that bind hearts together, regardless of distance and time. In the end, Interstellar shows viewers that love is the only thing that matches the immensity of the universe.

1 Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

McConaughey Won The Oscar For His Powerful Performance

Matthew McConaughey sitting in a car talking to Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer's Club

Dallas Buyers Club

Director Jean-Marc Vallee Release Date November 17, 2013 Cast Jared Leto , Matthew McConaughey , Jennifer Garner , Steve Zahn , Dallas Roberts Runtime 117 minutes

Dallas Buyers Club feels like a cinematic redemption from Matthew McConaughey since the role is rooted in the actor’s personal attachment to Texas and its culture. McConaughey is also virtually unrecognizable as Ron Woodroof, a reckless man who suddenly sees himself working around the U.S. healthcare system after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Woodroof begins finding drugs outside of the United States to help him and opens a “club” to provide medication to others in the same situation.

McConaughey’s heart-rending lead performance ended up earning him a much-deserved Oscar while the movie was also nominated for Best Picture. It is a complicated performance with Woodroof initially coming off as a selfish and bigoted man only to be humbled by those around him. Dallas Buyer’s Club remains one of the best efforts of the century to expose how unreliable the U.S. healthcare system is and to manifest the importance of sex education in times when ignorance prevails.

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