Matthew McConaughey could have been listed here for a wide variety of performances in films released this year, which has clearly been a remarkable one for the actor. From "Killer Joe" and "Bernie" to "The Paperboy" and "Magic Mike" (not to mention the as-yet-unreleased "Mud," which premiered in Cannes), McConaughey surged back into critics' good graces after a decade of mostly mediocre work in rom coms like "Failure To Launch" and "The Wedding Planner." His best bet to cap the year off with an Oscar nomination is definitely the unexpectedly excellent summer hit "Magic Mike." The Steven Soderbergh-directed film has him playing Dallas, the proprietor of a male strip club, and features McConaughey giving some of the most hilarious, electrifying monologues in recent movie history. At one point it seemed like a good bet for an Oscar nod, but the supporting actor category has got very crowded recently with the more typically Oscar-friendly likes of Robert DeNiro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones. It would be a huge shame if they push out McConaughey's work in "Mike," and they should also give consideration to Mike himself, Channing Tatum. Not only does Tatum give us some incredible dance numbers, but for the first time (in my opinion, at least) proves he can truly act with an earnest, incredibly charming performance as a stripper who wants to better himself. In a less-crowded year it seems Tatum could have managed a John Travolta-in-"Saturday Night Fever" kind of nomination, but that seems unlikely given his competition. So hopefully at least McConaughey gives "Mike" a little bit of Oscar magic.
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
We mentioned Trintignant's "Amour" co-star Emmanuelle Riva in last week's column as one of the best performances of the year and surely deserving of an Oscar nod. But we also mentioned nominations for foreign-language performances are few and far between, so the chances of both Riva and Trintignant making the cut for Michael Haneke's French-language Palme D'Or winner is fairly unlikely (especially with Marion Cotillard also in contention for a French-language performance). But hopefully that's not the case, as 81-year old French legend Trintignant's role as a retired music teacher who takes care of his wife after she suffers a stroke is -- like his co-star's -- a performance for the ages. It would also be a great way to celebrate a career that spans seven decades, from Éric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's" to Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Conformist" to Krzysztof Kieślowski's "Red."
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