Oscar Watch: Matthew McConaughey in "Mud"

In Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” Matthew McConaughey holds your attention every time he’s on screen. As an island outlaw hiding from the police, McConaughey’s Mud is a mysterious drifter with more than a few secrets to hide. Not fair revealing anything else about the plot but Nichols’ film is a dark coming of age movie seen through the eyes of two 14 year old Arkansas boys. Their fascination for Mud is just as strong as ours and we see the film through the eyes of teenage boys just beginning to learn about life’s harsh truths. Nichols tells the story in a more straightforward fashion than he did in his highly acclaimed 2011 film “Take Shelter”. All the better for it,. The screenplay makes Nichols not need as much stylistic ambition, instead the director opts to just tell the story. Good call. McConaughey, 44, only recently hit his stride as an actor. If you saw him in last year’s triumphant trifecta “Bernie”, “Magic Mike” and “Killer Joe” or 2011′s underseen, underrated “The Lincoln Lawyer” you know exactly how good of an actor he can be. Over the years his pretty boy looks have prevented him from ever being taken seriously as an actor. That’s too bad because here is an actor that is currently at his prime and should be taken very seriously. He plays with the audience’s heads in “Mud” and demands us to pay attention to his every move. It’s a performance that brilliantly captures a man lost in an ocean of thought and not letting anyone into his dark world filled with murderous tendencies and undying love. It’s a great performance that will be remembered come awards time and might only be overshadowed by an upcoming performance of his later on this year in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf Of Wall Street”.