2. 'True Detective' (2014)
Even in his darkest dramas, McConaughey always had life in his eyes. But the spark has long since gone out of Rust Cohle, a sour detective who has embraced pure reason as a buffer against faith or hope. True Detective granted McConaughey his greatest acting platform, allowing him to showcase the knife's-edge intensity of his Killer Joe turn and the soulfulness from Dallas Buyers Club. With a minimum of fuss appropriate to a character who's systematically stripping away his own humanity, McConaughey made obsession and grief indistinguishable. Everybody can do his own "Time is a flat circle" impression; very few of us can embody Cohle's endless heartbreak.