Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Some final thoughts on Austin at the Oscars

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

As these things go, Austin did not do too badly on Oscar night.

Now, Sandra Bullock did not win best actress. Nor did “The Act of Killing” distributed by Drafthouse Films win best documentary.

But Austin spirit animal Matthew McConaughey took home a best actor Oscar for his role as in “Dallas Buyers Club” and gave a speech that folks are likely still puzzling over.

Let’s start with his exceptionally gentlemanly turn with Kim Novak, who was clearly having some difficulty on stage. His hand on her back was the night’s most human gesture.

After thanking the usual suspects (director, other nominees, fellow winner Jard Leto) in which he noted he needed three things in life: someone to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.

The someone he looks up to turned out to be God, as it the case for a lot of people around the world. I did enjoy how his speech sounded like Bizzaro Rust Cohle, his character on “True Detective:” “He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand,” McConaughey said. “He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.”

To which Cohle might reply: “If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward then, brother, that person is a piece of (explitive).”

That’s from “True Detective,” episode 3 and you better believe a whole mess of folks at South By Southwest Film Festival on Sunday are going to be wishing they were in front of a TV for the finale.

Next up: “To my family, that’s who and what I look forward to,” McConaughey said, noting that his late father was “up there right now” with a big pot of gumbo, a lemon meringue pie, a cold can of Miller Light, dancing in his underwear.

Come on, that sounds like a pretty good post-mortem deal.

He added that his mother, still living, taught him to respect himself and others and that his wife and children give him “courage and significance every day.”

And now to whom he chases: himself, ten years from now. When asked as a teen who his hero was, he said it was “me in 10 years,” a hero-metric he’s kept up.

“I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that,” he said. “That’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.” This is, perhaps, the purest distillation of the McCaughsophy thusfar.

And then he closed with “Alright, alright, alright” and “just keep livin’,” his signature slogans that come from his indelible portrayal of Dave Wooderson in the 1993 classic “Dazed and Confused,” written and directed by Richard Linklater.

(Though Alison Macor notes in her totally excellent 2010 book “Chainsaws, Slackers and Spy Kids” that the latter was something McConaughy said to Linklater.)

So perhaps Linklater was beaten out for best adapted screenplay for “Before Midnight” by John Ridley, but without Wooderson, there would likely be no the McConaissance.

Gratitude reciprocates.