Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard
Release date: April 26

Matthew McConaughey had an amazing 2012, with standout performances in a trio of critically beloved movies: Magic Mike, Killer Joe, and Bernie. Just like that, an actor who'd forever been a walking, talking punch line transformed his public image the old-fashioned way: by showing and proving on the big screen.

And 2013 is looking even better for the chiseled stoner. McConaughey's Academy Award speculations will kick off in late April with Mud, the latest from gifted writer-director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter). It's about two kids (Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland) who cross paths with a slick-talking, likable criminal (McConaughey). Salvation ensues.

Later in 2013, McConaughey will step outside of the independent scene for a pair of high-profile, Oscar-baiting flicks: Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (starring Leonardo Dicaprio) and The Dallas Buyer's Club. Both seem cool, but thanks to the underrated excellence of Nichols' Take Shelter, Mud is still the clear front-runner—at least around these parts.