LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Matthew McConaughey has won the Academy Award for best actor for his performance as a desperate and determined AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

McConaughey lost some 40 pounds for the role, which capped a remarkable recent career transformation for the 44-year-old actor, once a regular in lightweight romantic comedies. It was his first Oscar nomination; he won the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama earlier this year.

The other nominees Sunday night were: Christian Bale, “American Hustle”; Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; and Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave.”

The 86th Academy Awards are airing live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, with host Ellen DeGeneres.