He was gaining momentum with a New York Film Critics Circle win and two Independent Spirit Award nominations, but alas, Matthew McConaughey was snubbed by this year's Golden Globes, hurting his chances for Oscar glory come February 24.
Industry watchers and critics alike have been taking note of McConaughey's recent career revival with roles big and small in mostly independent films including, "Killer Joe" and "The Paperboy." He seemed to be a likely Globes nom candidate for his role as Dallas in Steven Soderbergh's male stripper film "Magic Mike." But McConaughey's snub on Thursday may very well be a lesson that only women get nominated for major acting awards for playing characters that take their clothes off for a living. Elisabeth Shue was nominated for an Oscar for playing a prostitute in "Leaving Las Vegas" and Halle Berry was nominated for a Globe for portraying a stripper in "Frankie & Alice" -- just a few of many examples.
[Slideshow: Golden Globes Snubs and Surprises]
There were also rumblings McConaughey could be nominated for playing a colorful Texan prosecutor who employs unorthodox — if not anti-academic — methods in "Bernie." But his co-star Jack Black got nominated instead. A nom for that particular film, which also starred Shirley MacLaine, would have been symbolic for McConaughey for a few reasons: He is a Texas native, and it was directed by the man who discovered him in the first place — Richard Linklater, who helmed 1993 teen cult flick "Dazed and Confused" in which the McConaughey played the lascivious, high school skirt-chasing David Wooderson. And yes, that film was also set in Texas.
Up until last year McConaughey's career consisted of a heavy diet of relatively forgettable romantic comedies like "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (2009), "Fool's Gold" (2008) and "The Wedding Planner" (2001).
But things turned around for him when he took the lead in 2011 crime drama "The Lincoln Lawyer," playing as a shady defense attorney who grapples with a major moral dilemma. From there McConaughey has been experiencing a career renaissance, getting attention for taking on more complexity in his roles in films "Killer Joe," "The Paperboy," "Bernie," and, yes, "Magic Mike." He has also been the subject of chatter for dropping nearly 40 pounds for his role as an AIDS patient in "The Dallas Buyers Club," now filming.
Sure, a McConaughey nom for "Mike" would have likely inspired a lot of giggles but let's not forget that the film received a warm overall reception from critics and made a tidy profit at the box office — the third Channing Tatum film in 2012 to crack the $100-million mark, and it only cost roughly $7 million to make. Incidentally, the making of "Mike" was the result of a casual conversation Tatum had with Soderbergh about his real-life male stripping days. (Tatum has said a follow-up film and a Broadway musical are in the works.)
When Yahoo! Movies spoke with McConaughey earlier this year, he said the decision to take on the role of Dallas was an easy one. "I got a call from Steven Soderbergh, he pitched the film and the character to me, and in ten minute I said was in. And he said, 'If you come in here and you could play this straight and really, really hard core serious, it will be hilarious.'"
McConaughey is now a dark horse in this year's Oscar race, but he still could surprise everyone and get a nomination, even a win. And if not, his chances for a makeup statuette next awards season cycle have increased exponentially. After all, Oscar tends to look kindly on dramatic weight changes -- Robert DeNiro gained 30 lbs for "Raging Bull" and won the Oscar, and Charlize Theron gained the same amount of weight for her Oscar-winning role as a serial killer in "Monster."
Watch the nominations: