6. 'Mud' (2013)
No doubt filmmaker Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) knew that casting McConaughey would boost box office — but the star responded with one of his earthiest, most vulnerable performances. Though not the main character, McConaughey's mystery man named Mud gives the film urgency and edge, especially as this mysterious drifter becomes an unlikely, and maybe ill-advised, father figure to a directionless teen. Shorn of coming-of-age niceties, Mud stands as a portrait of bruised male pride, its spirit embodied in McConaughey's wary eyes.