Sunday, March 9, 2014

All right, all right, all right

It was the gamble of a lifetime and it paid off. Matthew McConaughey allowed his famously-chiseled body and big-screen looks to be disintegrated to play the starring role in the movie DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB, a role that won him the Oscar last Sunday. But I wonder if the gamble was worth it.

For a second, let’s put that highly-forgettable slew of rom-coms aside, and admit that McConaughey is a brilliant actor, always has been. There’s no winning when you have to carry Kate Hudson around a movie shoot, and Matt McC signed on for that chore twice. He’s always been great, see LINCOLN LAWYER, DAZED & CONFUSED and/or A TIME TO KILL for that, and he’s having his greatest year, see DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB, WOLF OF WALL STREET and/or TV’s TRUE DETECTIVE for that, carving up the profession like a man who’s been told he has a terminal disease. But the physical toll he underwent to embody these roles was off the charts, especially for a guy who lives half his life shirtless. I can’t imagine that transition was easy for someone like him, who was obviously into physical fitness and maintaining a certain look. And he was one of Hollywood’s best looking. But now, at 44 years old, I don’t know if he can get all the way back. Despite his brilliance in DALLAS and WOLF, he’s physically repulsive in both roles. It’s hard to look at him. He made a deal with the devil to get that Oscar moniker on his name.

I don’t know if I could do it. Recently I started Yoga. I feel better, stronger, taller, everything. I’ve incorporated it with gym work, a better diet, and my self-image has skyrocketed. I work on it every day. I feel great every day. I don’t know if I could watch my body and looks and self-image wither away. It would mentally rip me to shreds. But McConaughey did it to play a part in a movie nobody saw or cared about. He did it to win an Oscar. What a gutsy run at glory. As brilliant as he is, this was probably his one shot at the top trophy, and he went all in. I don’t know if I could starve myself, make myself sick, destroy the only body I’ll ever have to “maybe” win an award, even an Oscar, which is no small thing, I get that. I just don’t know.

After he won the Golden Globe for DALLAS it became clear he was on his way to Oscar. The Oscar's are basically a replay of the Globes. McC’s only true contender, in my opinion, was DiCaprio, and there was no way the Academy was giving Leo the award for portraying someone so unlikeable, who’s still on the talk-show circuit. Don’t worry, Leo fans, he’s gonna win a bunch by the time it’s done. It was McConaughey’s award going forward, and he’s now an Oscar-winning actor, he did it. And now there are reports that Mark Walhberg just lost 65lbs to play a part, and there’s very-very early Oscar buzz about it. My first thought: Tragic. I hope this isn’t the new Hollywood trend. "But, Brian, they have the best dieticians in the world." And I know Matt McC didn't invent starvation to win an Oscar, see Tom Hanks in PHILADELPHIA. Hanks did it at 35 not 45. But a grown man is not meant to live on saltines and flavored water for six months. Doing that is really risking your health, and when your health is lost, regardless of how many Oscar's you've won, you're just a guy with his backside hanging out of a hospital gown. I guess it shows the full nature of getting to the top of the most competitive profession on the planet. It's not all mansions and red carpets.

The Oscar’s are a political pony show, they have to be. I believe McConaughey had some kind of inside track before taking this role and blowing his big-screen body to dust. He must’ve understood that Oscar attention was in the cards. I read that he took pennies to play the part in DALLAS, going the Indie route vs. a possible $15-million-dollar payday as Magnum P.I. Many thought it was his only choice. Many thought studios would be reluctant to put big-budget money behind him, because of recent box office busts. Maybe this was a desperate grasp to right his career. But still, he must’ve known he had a real chance at Oscar. No way he underwent a yearlong hunger strike as a total crap shoot. It never is an unknown. Not when you have A-List connections. Even when he graced the Oscar stage last Sunday, he didn’t look like McConaughey, better yes but not back. I just don’t think I could commit to it. And that's why I'm me and he's him.

I guess so much in life is a give and take. McConaughey went so far to win. It may’ve been too far to ever come back from. I wonder if there’s anything that I would go that far to win.

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Brian Huba

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