For the second straight Oct. 21 in a row, Matthew McConaughey worked the carpet and took the stage at the Beverly Hilton.
A year ago, he arrived as one of many hopefuls at the insular Hollywood Film Awards, where his awards narrative for “Dallas Buyers Club” was just taking shape.
One year later on Tuesday night, he was back on the same carpet, on the same stage, and still without any suspense that he would be a winner.
This time, however, he was the lone victor as he accepted the American Cinematheque Award for being America’s favorite aw-shucks bongo-playing Oscar winner.
It is a “mid-career tribute” previously bestowed on Matt Damon, Ben Stiller, Al Pacino, and Nicole Kidman amongst others over the past 28 years. You would also be excused for calling it AFI’s Life Achievement Award Futures Game.
On Tuesday, his co-stars distilled his 22-year career into a 90-minute show.
The irony of McConaughey’s halftime highlights is that Kate Hudson, the one female co-star that most personifies McConaughey’s most maligned career chapter – the rom-com era – outshone all of the serious female co-stars in her lead-off spot.
She told a story of finding him on a rock “buck naked” when he took a personal timeout from a visit with her to her “parents’ cabin” in Canada. You could hear McConaughey himself laughing, out loud and alone, across the International Ballroom as Hudson wound up to say, “We can say Matthew McConaughey is at one with nature.”
Here’s more of the atmosphere from McConaughey’s 87th winning night this year.
Only McConaughey’s head table got beers, a bucket of Miller Lite placed right in front of him. The only time he put on his blazer all night was when he accepted the honors at the end of the night. The beers, and a daughter, came with.
“He lost 85 lbs. for his Lincoln commercials,” host Jimmy Kimmel joked earlier. “He didn’t even have to. Very roomy car.” It was Kimmel’s second hosting gig of the night, after welcoming McConaughey’s “Larger than Life” co-star Bill Murray on his own show.
Jennifer Garner is a frequent flier, having worked with M.M. on both “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”. Camila Alves made it her second event of the night, coming from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund party over at the Chateau. She made a wardrobe change between the two.
Meanwhile, Jessica Chastain (above right) was planted in one place – the power table. She sat with the “Interstellar” team right behind the head table, next to Brad Grey, Christopher Nolan, and Anne Hathaway.
While on Hathaway, she’s still got Mary Hart’s caffeinated live stage persona. She did ask for, and drink from, a random water glass handed to her from one of the front tables after telling a story about showing up to McConaughey’s house on the wrong date, the morning after a surprise party, but staying to finish off four bottles of wine with him and crash someone else’s party.
American Cinematheque Chairman and former CAA managing partner Rick Nicita (above) deadpanned that McConaughey’s career choices would “give his agent gray hair.”
McConaughey’s current agent, Jim Toth (there in a bowtie and with wife Reese Witherspoon), does not have gray hair. The guest of honor warned Toth from the stage that if he had been offered “Titanic” and did not know about it, he was going to wrestle him.
McCona-mom Kay, and “Mud” co-star Witherspoon shared the head table with the guy she called “The one you want to send out in space to save humanity and also hang out with on the last day of school,” combining references to the imminent “Interstellar” and his on-screen debut, “Dazed and Confused.”
The Texas Tenors played a three song set, including “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” If this were on TV, it would be cut for time. McConaughey missed the tribute, as he was deep in the heart of the Hilton, choosing this time to duck out for the facilities.
Kate Hudson won for best speech and best McConaughey impression out of a field of “everyone in the room,” except Christopher Nolan who did not attempt one. The “McConaissance” count: two verbal mentions and one on-screen video package titled with the portmanteau.
Giftbag Jeopardy: “What are 3 things everybody in the room has seen and one thing that will not be regifted?”