Say what you will about Kevin Costner – whose Draft Day opens this weekend – but for my part, I’ve always been a fan. He was one of those actors I can remember from an early age, loving him immediately in his breakthrough performance in Lawrence Kasdan’s Silverado (1985). It was just the kind of film – and character – that a young boy could latch on to, and possibly the film that began my love for the Western genre. It was one of those performances – matched with Costner’s natural charm and sexuality – that would have found itself at the top of my annual Breakthrough Performances piece had I been a writer for this site at the time.
Costner’s rise to fame came swiftly after, starring in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987) and Roger Donaldson’s No Way Out (1987). His claim to fame, however, would be in the Sports Film genre, which began with one of his best films, Bull Durham (1988). He followed one baseball classic with another, Field of Dreams (1989), before getting behind the camera for his directorial debut, Dances with Wolves (1990). The film would earn Costner an Academy Award nomination for Lead Actor, as well as two statuettes (Best Director and Picture). I still believe to this day that if Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas would have beat out Wolves for Director and Picture, that the latter would be a much more fondly remembered film now. It is probably the perfect example how winning the Oscar can sometimes be bad for a film’s legacy. Sure, I believe that Goodfellas should have won, but also that Wolves is a classic, so you won’t hear me complaining nearly as loud as others.
Boy, did that get off track fast.
Costner would star in several other hits in the 1990s, including Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), JFK (1991), The Bodyguard (1992), and – one of his lesser known gems – A Perfect World (1993). His disastrous second (uncredited co-director) and third directorial efforts, Waterworld (1995) and The Postman (1997), were similarly themed post-apocalyptic epics that crashed and burned both critically and at the box office. Costner continued, however, to make charming sports-themed films like Tin Cup (1996) and For Love of the Game (1999) to round out the decade.
The time since has seen a few minor hits, as well as a few bumps in the road, for the actor/director, the best of which includes Thirteen Days (2000), Open Range (the fourth film he directed; 2003), and the TV mini-series Hatfields & McCoys (2012). Last year he played Pa Kent in Man of Steel, and, along with Draft Day, has already been seen on the big screen three times in 2014 (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and 3 Days to Kill). As a lifelong Browns fan, I’m hoping this weekend brings another quality sports film to Costner’s resume.
My Circuit 3 for Kevin Costner films:
- Dances with Wolves (1990)
- Field of Dreams (1989)
- Bull Durham (1988)
What is your Circuit 3 for Kevin Costner? You can view his filmography here.