Nominated for Nothing: 'Magic Mike'
Just about every year, brilliant movies are utterly ignored by the Oscars. The Searchers, Groundhog Day, Breathless, King Kong, Casino Royale, Touch of Evil, Caddyshack, Mean Streets, The Big Lebowski — the Academy has a long history of overlooking comedies, action movies, horror flicks, hard-boiled genre pics, artsy foreign films, and documentaries that aren’t about World War II. This year, we’ll be taking a closer look at films that were too small, too weird, or perhaps simply too awesome for the Academy Awards. These are the Non-Nominees.
The Film: Affectionately known as “Channing Tatum’s stripper movie,” the Steven Soderbergh film is about man at a crossroads: Does “Magic Mike” keep grinding his moneymaker to bank those singles he’s saving to start his own custom-furniture business, or, does mentoring a fresh face (Alex Pettyfer) for his shady boss (Matthew McConaughey) make him see that he’s losing more than he’s gained and hang up his G-string for good?
Why it Wasn’t Nominated: EW’s Owen Gleiberman gave the movie an A-, so we could pretend this had an actual chance to follow in The Full Monty‘s footsteps and garner a nod as one of the year’s Top 10 (or nine) best pictures. But even with Soderbergh’s name attached, no one wanted to take this film seriously. (Especially the people who paid to see it multiple times even though they thought there wasn’t enough stripping and that Cody Horn, as Tatum’s love interest, was way too wooden.) The real snub here is that McConaughey, who’s picked up supporting actor honors from the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics among others this awards season, didn’t score his first Oscar nomination for playing narcissistic club owner Dallas. The critics remember their summer raves for McConaughey’s commitment, but the buzz had faded by the time Academy members got to voting: Only one acting nomination this year came from a film with a U.S. release date before September, and that’s Beasts of the Southern Wild’s lead actress Quvenzhane Wallis. Another uphill battle: All supporting actor nominees this year have not only been nominated before, they’ve all won before. But perhaps the biggest mountain for McConaughey to climb was the idea that him playing a shirtless beefcake with a chill vibe and his eye on the prize (moving the revue from Tampa to Miami) wasn’t a stretch. (We didn’t penalize Alan Arkin for playing Argo‘s acerbic movie producer, did we?)
Why History Will Remember It Better Than Amour: This is the film that secured Channing Tatum the title of People‘s Sexiest Man Alive (and will forever make of us think of him when we hear Ginuwine’s “Pony”), but it was already legendary before that. There are multiple lessons here:
1.) How Tatum turned what could have been an embarrassing leak — a video of him stripping in his younger days — into a film that’s grossed more than $113 million domestically and sparked talk of a sequel and a stage musical. He didn’t try to bury his past (as perhaps some of his reps wanted him to); He knew there was a story in the comically dark, seedy world of male stripping, and he used his experience to inform it. That kind of honesty and sense of humor wins you fans.
2.) Media tours can be fun, which we learned watching Tatum’s remarkably game costar Joe Manganiello body-roll his way around town. That’s also something we won’t soon forget.
3.) Speaking again to McConaughey’s snub specifically, just because a role seems a perfect fit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get credit for making it your own. As we found out when we went behind the scenes of the stripping numbers, in the original script Dallas didn’t even have a stripping scene. McConaughey wanted one, and knew exactly how it should play out: He’d begin by serenading the women from the stage with a slow song. Music supervisor Frankie Pine suggested she and McConaughey pen the tune with Martin Blasick, McConaughey’s guitar coach. They wrote “Ladies of Tampa” in about three hours at McConaughey’s hotel. “The song is silly as hell, but Matthew swears it’s gonna get nominated for an Academy Award. He keeps telling me I have to pick out my dress. And you know what, I am gonna submit it,” Pine told EW before the film’s June 29 release. After the song, McConaughey wanted to blow fire, smash his guitar, and strip to KISS’ “Calling Dr. Love.”
McConaughey worked with costume designer Christopher Peterson on designing his thong. “Matthew didn’t want to wear, nor did I want him to wear, just a spandex thong. There was a rock ‘n’ roll Western feel to his clothing, and he kept talking about this specific coloring that a certain horse has. It just started occurring to me that maybe we were talking about a horse mane and fringe. He liked that idea,” Peterson told EW last summer. Fringe placement was another discussion. “I started placing it at different places on the thong, and Matthew said, ‘Right down the center,'” Peterson recalled. “Initially, the fringe was a little out of control. It was like a horse’s mane. We trimmed it back and trimmed it back. When those pants came off and the silver and black patent fringe started catching the light, the reaction was IN-SANE.”
As for the actual moves for the number, McConaughey had ideas for those, too. “He was so in it to be gross and raunchy,” choreographer Alison Faulk told EW. He came up with signature moves, like the “Lick It and Slick It” (he licks his fingers and slides them down his pants). “He was the one who had the most names for things, because we would call them out,” Faulk said. “I’ve never laughed as hard as I laughed watching him perform, only because it was so f—ing amazing. The women did not know what to do with themselves. The last thing he does in his routine is lie on the ground, and the girls were insane trying to tip him, shoving money in his G-string, and his G-string ripped off. He held it on with his hand. Nothing will beat that to me.”
As Peterson said, when recalling that McConaughey’s G-string also had a fringe tail, “Matthew was out to outdo all the other boys. I don’t know that he succeeded necessarily, but he certainly committed something incredibly memorable to film for all time.”