There are few actors in Hollywood working at the moment quite as watchable as Matthew McConaughey. Gone are the days of Southern charm-filled rom-coms; the McConaissance has bigger fish to fry. So to celebrate his 47th birthday this Saturday, we’ve put together a list of what we think are Mathew McConaughey’s best 5 performances!

Top 5 Matthew McConaughey Film & TV Performances

5) Magic Mike (2012)

On paper, there didn’t seem too much to get excited about when Magic Mike came around – especially for the average Joe. The film was essentially promoted as a Chippendale show for housewives, just at the cinema. But just like the film itself, McConaughey’s Dallas had far more clout than expected and perfectly fused McC’s newfound charisma with 2005’s Sexiest Man Alive. Despite their oiled up façades, stacked on top of the seemingly shallow surface Magic Mike and the character of Dallas pack heaps of genuine drama and pathos. Dallas is a mentor, yes, but he’ll never let you forget it. The role couldn’t have been anyone else’s.

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4) Dazed and Confused (1993)

Before the McConaissance and the rom-coms, cinema goers first caught a glimpse of Matthew McConaughey in Richard Linklater’s 1993 hangout movie Dazed and Confused. The film not only gave us the Southern charmer himself, it also gave us the completely unscripted line that’s typified his career; “Alright, alright, alright.” McConaughey plays David Wooderson, that older guy we all knew during High School who hung out with your crew far too often for someone his age, but we let it go because he had a car and could get us cheap cider. McConaughey may have had better performances, but none of his characters have ever been so quintessentially him.

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3) Killer Joe (2012)

But despite his palpable charm, McConaughey has shown on many occasions just how terrifying he can be – a characteristic perfectly illustrated in 2012’s Killer Joe. Coming right at the start of the McConaissance, the Texan plays detective-turned-contract-killer Joe Cooper (not to be confused with his Interstellar character of the same name). Joe, by anyone’s definition, is a monster, and McConaughey plays it to perfection with a performance that’s disturbingly enticing in its brashness. He’s downright nasty and it’s testament to McConaughey’s immaculately-judged coolness in Killer Joe that you never for one minute think he’s not in control.

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2) Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

The one that confirmed the McConaissance wasn’t just a meme, McConaughey finally won Academy Award for Best Actor following his performance in the title role for Dallas Buyers Club. And it’s easy to see why: He lost 47 pounds to take on Dallas Woodroof (which explains his gaunt appearance in Interstellar and Wolf of Wall Street), a man dying of AIDS who seeks out alternative therapies and smuggles unapproved drugs into the U.S in the 80s. Like plenty of Oscar-winners, it’s up for debate when Dallas Buyers Club is McConaughey’s best role. But nobody can debate the man’s commitment to the project with an all-encompassing performance which required strength, vulnerability and everything else in between.

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1) True Detective (2014)

The one that made us all stand up and notice, McConaughey’s role in the first season of True Detective can’t be underestimated. Yes, the tone for the cult HBO show is set by sprawling cinematography and twisted plotlines, but McConaughey’s Rust Cohle embodies the show’s dark core as a man whose cutting intensity shows no signs of fading, even if his health does. Rust is obsessed and grief stricken, but he’s also soulful and meticulous. It’s an incredible character and an even better performance. And we make it Matthew McConaughey’s greatest ever performance.

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