Our alphabetical parade through the Best Picture nominees continues with another based-on-a-true-story tale: “Dallas Buyers Club,” about a homophobic Texas electrician who became an activist after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in the late ’80s. The screenplay had been floating around Hollywood, the story goes, for nearly two decades before producer Robbie Brenner gave the script to Matthew McConaughey, who saw in Ron Woodroof the role of a lifetime and fought to get the movie made. Shot in a mere 28 days, using only natural light (to save money and time), the film tells an unforgettable story — and has revitalized the careers of McConaughey and Jared Leto (who plays Rayon, a transgender AIDS patient who befriends Ron), both of whom are now first-time Oscar nominees.
Still in theaters? Yes. in Seattle at the Sundance and Regal Meridian.
Total U.S. box office: $24 million
Total Oscar nominations: Six, for best picture, actor (McConaughey), supporting actor (Leto), original screenplay, film editing, and makeup/hairstyling.
Best chance for a win: McConaughey’s been winning awards all over the place for this performance, including the SAG for before actor, and he’s widely considered to be a lock for this one. (Unless Bruce Dern takes the sentimental vote.) Leto likewise seems to have an edge in supporting actor, but that one’s too close to call; don’t take your eyes of Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”). And, with the competition being “Bad Grandpa” and “The Lone Ranger,” it seems likely to win for makeup/hairstyling, otherwise known as The One That Should Have Gone to “American Hustle.”
Odds of this movie creating some fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: If “Dallas Buyers Club” wins best picture, it’ll be the biggest upset in Oscar history. But it won’t happen. We’ll settle for a goofy but charming speech from McConaughey, who’s getting plenty of practice and should be on his game on Oscar night.
Fun fact: Helen Hunt is, according to Goldderby, the only person to win an Oscar and an Emmy for acting in the same year — but McConaughey, who’s electric in HBO’s “True Detective” (are you watching? Do), might well pull off the feat in 2014.
Leto and McConaughey — a potential Oscar duo? — in “Dallas Buyers Club.” (Photo by Anne Marie Fox; courtesy of Focus Features)