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Every Kevin Costner Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Kevin Costner has been a movie star for decades. Although his career started with small parts in the early 1980s, by the latter half of the decade he became an A-list leading man who could carry an entire movie based on his name alone. From Brian De Palma's big-screen adaptation of "The Untouchables" to the sentimental baseball drama "Field of Dreams" and the epic "Dances With Wolves," Costner proved he had the chops to pull in a crowd with genuinely great entertainment.

He hasn't stopped working either. Costner has been turning out movies steadily since he hit the ground running back in the day. We decided to take a look at his filmography and rank his movies with a little help from websites like IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and just a dash of personal opinion. To keep this list as succinct as possible, we've omitted anything where he is not the lead, co-lead, or a significant supporting character. For example, "Silverado" is a great movie and his performance is really fun, but his part is a little too small to consider it a "Kevin Costner movie."

Here are Kevin Costner's movies ranked from worst to best.

42. Dragonfly (2002)

The first few years of the 21st century weren't exactly kind to Kevin Costner. Sure, he was in "Thirteen Days," a quality, if somewhat forgettable, historical thriller about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Immediately following that, however, came two of the most critically-panned films in his career. The first, "3000 Miles to Graceland" will be discussed soon. The second, a supernatural mystery, was called "Dragonfly."

Directed by Tom Shadyac, (mostly known for Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy comedies) the film sees Costner play a doctor who loses his wife when a bus she's riding on in Venezuela is sent crashing into a river during a landslide. Following her death, he begins receiving messages from her through the patients at the hospital where he works who are near death. The final reveal of what his wife is trying to tell him is strange and makes you wonder why she had to communicate in riddles. Why not just tell him what he needs to do?

The film, as stated earlier, was not loved by critics. The decision to transition from a spooky mystery to a sentimental drama inspired BBC.com critic Neil Smith to write, "Though Tom Shadyac's film kicks off spookily enough, around the halfway mark it takes an abrupt turn into glucose sentimentality and laughable contrivance."

41. The Postman (1997)

The '90s was a decade of extreme peaks and valleys for Kevin Costner. This can be best demonstrated by looking at his two directorial efforts during the decade. In 1990, he reached new heights of success and acclaim when he directed and starred in the historical epic "Dances with Wolves." Then, in 1997, he starred in and directed the dull futuristic flop "The Postman."

Based on the novel by David Brin, the film tells the story of a drifter in a post-apocalyptic version of a fallen United States who finds a mail carrier uniform and a bag of mail. He then inspires hope in the disillusioned survivors of the apocalypse that America can be rebuilt and stability will return. The idea itself isn't terrible, but it is a little too precious to sustain a massive budget and runtime.

However, creating a big and unashamedly patriotic message was what the author himself intended, as discussed in this piece he wrote describing his experience with and feelings towards the film. The movie's heart is in the right place, even if it didn't do anything interesting with the concept. Even a largely negative review by Roger Ebert noted that the film was at least trying when he wrote, "There are those who will no doubt call 'The Postman' the worst film of the year, but it's too good-hearted for that."

40. The Gunrunner (1983)

Like every other actor in the entertainment industry, Kevin Costner had to do some small movies before he hit it big. In 1989, after Costner's career really took off, a pair of movies show up on his resume that look a little suspicious. The first, "Chasing Dreams," is not on this list because his role is too small. "The Gunrunner," however, is actually led by Costner, but he's the only recognizable name in the cast.

This is purely speculation, but just looking at the trailer for "The Gunrunner" is enough to convince anyone that this film was likely re-issued following the massive success of "Field of Dreams," which had also been released in 1989. According to IMDbPro, the movie was filmed in 1983. When looking it up on Rotten Tomatoes, the year reads 1984. This is further supported by a quick blurb on the Empire website stating that the film was shelved. Regardless of when it was made, the fact remains that it isn't a particularly good entry in Costner's filmography.

A generic and cheap thriller set in the 1920s, Costner is the only saving grace to this lifeless film about a bad guy trying to turn good. At the very least, he is a compelling presence in an otherwise bland dud.

39. 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001)

Have you ever wanted to see a huge cast of characters dressed as Elvis Presley shoot up a casino with John Woo levels of bullets tearing into things and spraying debris all over the place? Then the 2001 flop "3000 Miles to Graceland" is for you. Actually, the trailer would have you believe this was an "Ocean's Eleven"-style heist film about robbing a casino during an Elvis convention, but the film itself is more about the aftermath of the robbery and who gets the money.

The idea of a flashy, bloated action-comedy starring two legends like Kurt Russell (who actually played the King in a 1979 TV movie directed by John Carpenter) and Kevin Costner, with a host of fun supporting characters played by Christian Slater, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, and Bokeem Woodbine, sounds really entertaining. That's probably why the promotional material focused on that part of it. Shedding that to tell a story about two criminals fighting over money is a huge letdown. Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times even wrote, "The picture feels longer than Presley's career and as irrelevant as he was by the end."

38. Rumor Has It (2005)

The key to any romantic comedy isn't necessarily romance. Instead, it's the hook. The contrivance that brings characters together, or keeps them apart, is what drives a romantic comedy because it is the source of both the romance and the comedy. "Pretty Woman" is funny because Vivian is the perfect fish out of water. It's romantic because Edward knows he shouldn't be falling in love with a prostitute, but can't help it.

Well, "Rumor Has It" has one of the strangest hooks to any romantic comedy. It's about a woman with trouble committing to a relationship (Jennifer Aniston) discovering that an affair shared by her mother and grandmother (with Kevin Costner's character) was the inspiration for the book and film "The Graduate." It's an idea that works as a kind of bizarro sequel to the original classic, with some great actors turning in okay performances, but fails to be funny or romantic.

For one thing, the protagonist is unlikeable. She treats her significant other Jeff (played by Mark Ruffalo) very unfairly, and she is so preoccupied with how un-romantic she is and how she doesn't belong in her family that we never really get a chance to know her. It makes it difficult to root for someone with muddled and vague motivations.

37. The War (1994)

The "war" referred to in this film is not really the Vietnam conflict, although Kevin Costner's character is dealing with PTSD following his time in that war. It could be argued that it's referring to the war for the treehouse fought by local kids. That does serve as a major conflict in the center of the film. But it's more likely that this is a metaphorical war and can be plugged into any of the conflicts explored in the movie.

As far as Kevin Costner movies go, this one is a borderline entry. He is an important figure in the film but isn't in a ton of it. Really, this is Elijah Wood's movie. However, given that Costner's struggles as a soldier mirror what Elijah Wood is dealing with, it counts. A coming-of-age story about keeping your head up, fighting for what you believe in, and not giving up when others try to keep you down, the film never amounts to much more than a couple of almost interesting ideas.

The film's inability to honestly explore humanity in a compelling and dramatic fashion caused Roger Ebert to write, "This is one of those films so overwrought and overwritten that a perfectly good human story gets swamped in Statements About the Human Condition."

36. 3 Days to Kill (2014)

Like the "Taken" movies starring Liam Neeson, "3 Days to Kill" is one of those action-thrillers dreamed up by French filmmaker Luc Besson with an aging actor at the center of it who is really good at hurting people. With the film directed by McG, you would expect some kind of visual flair to compliment the material and turn an otherwise mundane action flick into a wild ride. Unfortunately, it lacks the addictive high-energy action both filmmakers are known for, turning the picture into a boring and unappealing experience.

All the ingredients for a fun movie are there, but the execution seems tired. Depicting a hired killer on his last mission while dying from cancer, struggling with hallucinations brought on by his medications, and trying to reconnect with his family should have resulted in big, inventive setpieces destined to lodge in the viewer's mind. Instead, it's treated with little enthusiasm and zero style.

35. Criminal (2016)

Like "Face/Off" from 1997, "Criminal" has an interesting, if silly, premise. After an agent dies in the field, his memories and identity are surgically implanted into a criminal's brain. Now the CIA needs to deal with an unhinged man carrying information they desperately need in order to stop massive destruction. Unlike "Face/Off," however, "Criminal" lacks the humor and lush action sequences that made that earlier film work.

With a cast including Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones, one can't help but wonder why the film isn't better. Well, their casting is actually indicative of the film's problem in general. These are big actors capable of doing great work, but unfortunately the material isn't all that compelling and their performances do little to counteract that. None of them are bad (Costner even appears to occasionally be having fun), but they're just not doing a whole lot. The film suffers from strong elements being held together with weak material. 

34. Wyatt Earp (1994)

Kevin Costner and Westerns go together like Kevin Costner and baseball movies. That's to say, he's done a few of them, he fits them, and when they're good, they're great. When they're not so good, they're just okay. Such is the case with "Wyatt Earp," the 1994 biopic of a legendary figure of the American West. Directed and co-written by the iconic Lawrence Kasdan (who previously worked with Costner on the Western "Silverado"), the film is a huge, sweeping attempt to tell the life story of Wyatt Earp, without breaking any new ground.

"Tombstone," another '90s Western featuring the titular hero (this time played by Kurt Russell), came out a year prior to "Earp" and told a similar story more succinctly and with a great deal more fun. "Wyatt Earp" is a fine movie: Costner isn't bad in the role, the cinematography is sufficiently epic, yet it's just too long and self-serious to work. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said it best in his review when he wrote, "Not exactly a failure, 'Wyatt Earp' is more accurately described as simply not the picture it wants so hard to be."

33. Revenge (1990)

There is a common thread running through some of the movies on this lower section of the list. Already we've encountered films that start as one thing then change halfway through into something less interesting and far stranger. 1990's "Revenge" is another example of this: What seems like a little erotic thriller about a man having an affair with his friend's wife eventually turns into a dark and twisted story of extreme bitterness and anger.

Of course, it should be expected, right? The name of the film is "Revenge," not "Affair." Although it seems like it will be a movie about two people trying to keep their romance a secret from the woman's very powerful and dangerous husband, it's actually all about how the husband reacts to the affair. What he does to his poor wife is ghastly, and the way she reacts is a little mind-boggling. Suicide is one thing, but intentionally getting a disease is just plain strange.

Of course, since it is a Tony Scott ("True Romance") film, "Revenge" is visually striking, and the performances are pretty solid across the board, but one can't help but imagine what it would have been like if it were more of a traditional suspense film.

32. The New Daughter (2009)

In the hands of a filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro, "The New Daughter" could have been a textured drama with deep and fascinating lore at the periphery. It's not a stretch to imagine the director taking this project on either, since his "Pan's Labyrinth" star Ivana Baquera appears as Kevin Costner's troubled daughter in this lackluster and derivative supernatural thriller.

Like many movies that fall into the "okay" category, the concept is promising. Telling a story about a girl struggling with the divorce of her parents by using the supernatural as a metaphor for anger brought on by change could have been very powerful. Instead, the film never rises above its base genre trappings. Worse than that, it never fully commits to them either. If all you're going to do with your story is make a monster movie then make a monster movie. Don't surround it with a generic family drama.

It's a shame too, because director Luiso Berdejo was partially responsible for the 2007 horror film "Rec," which was fun and creepy. Costner's involvement doesn't help either. As well as the actor does in Westerns, sports films, or the occasional romantic comedy, his everyman personality is deeply at odds with horror and fantasy. While it should help to keep the story grounded, instead he comes off as out of place.

31. The Bodyguard (1992)

Even if you've never seen the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," chances are you're aware of its music. The soundtrack was massive during the film's release, ranking up there as one of the highest-selling film soundtracks of all time. At the very least, you know Whitney Houston's epic cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." The film's reputation may not linger in the public consciousness, but the music, specifically that song, certainly does.

As Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert observed in their reviews of the film, it's not exactly a love story, or a particularly good thriller. It's a film about two people who don't exactly work as a couple, but who are extremely close professionally. While that's true, it's more of a character study of a man who is very good at his job. Not only that, his job is everything to him. The title is very apt, as it is really a film about a guy who is his job and that job is being a bodyguard. 

Had there been a stronger mystery going on and perhaps even more romantic tension between Costner and Houston, the movie could have possibly been great. Instead, it is a solid, if underwhelming little movie.

30. The Guardian (2006)

There's a lot going on in "The Guardian" that should work in its favor. For one thing, a film about rescue swimmers is inherently exciting. These are individuals who put their lives on the line by entering often chaotic waters to save the lives of others. There is something truly heroic about that which could work really well on screen. Also, seeing Kevin Costner in a mentor role to a younger actor (in this case, Asthon Kutcher) is interesting. Then there's director Andrew Davis, who has previously proven he can handle big, suspenseful action sequences in films like "The Fugitive." Where all that goes wrong, however, is the story.

You've got a great character like Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) who is such a hero that he only remembers the number of people he failed to save, as opposed to the mountain of people he successfully rescued. This kind of earnest man is the kind of thing Costner excels at, but the story doesn't do him any justice. Instead of putting him and Jake (Kutcher) in a series of exciting rescues that the film badly needs to keep everything exciting, it gets bogged down in sentimentality. Like other films on this part of the list, "The Guardian" isn't awful, just a missed opportunity. 

29. Swing Vote (2008)

Like the 2006 Robin Williams comedy "Man of the Year," or Jon Stewart's "Irresistible," "Swing Vote" asks the question, "Ain't politics silly?" It does this by concocting a bizarre scenario that works within the reality of the film, and that we can almost imagine happening in real life, but is just far-fetched enough for us to never take it too seriously. This is why the film can get away with silly campaign spots made by political candidates trying to appeal to one man. It's also why the more serious moments, like the final debate, feel forced and hollow. They've set up this goofy comedy that has great actors turning in really fun performances, but the film isn't really equipped to deal with some of the heavier questions it raises.

What really works is the relationship between Kevin Costner and his daughter, played by Madeline Carroll. Seeing the younger generation care so deeply about the future of the country she lives in, while the older generation (represented by her father) is content to just cruise through life, feels honest, plus their chemistry is great. Costner in general is fun to watch here. The actor is really great at playing an average guy just trying to survive. Both he and the film also succeed in capturing the arc of a man who is coming to realize that the situation he's in isn't about him, but the country as a whole.

28. Black or White (2014)

Your opinion of this family drama will likely come down to how you feel about custody cases. If you like the idea of characters sitting in a courtroom and being confronted with their flaws, then it will probably work for you. If instead, you're more interested in seeing people trying to work their differences out together without the convenience of a trial, it may not work for you as well.

"Black or White" sees Kevin Costner's character raising his biracial granddaughter following the death of his daughter and his wife. Gripped by grief and ill-equipped to raise the child on his own, he turns to drinking. When his granddaughter's other paternal grandmother shows up, played by Octavia Spencer, there's a clash of personalities. She wants her granddaughter to be more involved with her black family members, where he would rather they only visit.

Dealing with racial conflicts through the lens of a custody battle is intriguing. The film just may not be as prepared to handle the conversation as tactfully as needed, resulting in something more akin to melodrama. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer's review said, "Its heart is in the right place, but the story and characters are all a bit too obvious and cliché."

27. The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019)

The only film on the list not to feature Kevin Costner on camera, "The Art of Racing in the Rain" is the life story of a race car driver as witnessed through the eyes of his pet golden retriever. As with any story with an animal at the center, it doesn't have the happiest ending. Also, like most movies about someone pursuing a dream, there's a lot of sadness along the way. Thus, the film is a real downer. Even though the end suggests that Enzo's still around in a new form, it's still pretty dismal

That's not to say the film is without charm. The dog, Enzo, is very cute and using Costner's voice for his inner monologue works well. The performances from Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried are solid as well. The driving scenes may not get the blood pumping, but they work. It's just that the film is so sappy and sad without any real, genuine human drama. We're not sad because of what these characters mean, these are just story beats intended to be sad. The film feels designed to move you, but it never actually does.

26. For Love of the Game (1999)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about "For Love of the Game" is the fact that it was directed by Sam Raimi. At this point in his career, Raimi hadn't had the huge blockbuster success of "Spider-Man." Prior to this 1999 melodrama, Raimi had mostly been known for the "Evil Dead" movies and the thriller "A Simple Plan." It looked as though the indie genre director was making his way into the mainstream. Unfortunately, he stepped up to the plate to direct a banal sports-romance movie.

Since Raimi has always had a solid visual technique, the film looks good. The baseball scenes feel big and important, and many of the flashbacks are suitably warm and intimate. However, none of the characters are particularly interesting, despite a strong cast which includes J. K. Simmons, John C. Reilly, and Brian Cox. The fact that the film is designed around a pitcher's final game and how it mirrors his romance with Kelly Preston's character is actually more suited to a small indie film. Everything here feels much bigger than it needs to be, making it all seem a little forced.

25. Waterworld (1995)

Other than the fact that it cost a ludicrous amount of money at the time, making it one of the most expensive films ever made, there was no reason to assume that the 1995 post-apocalyptic sci-fi film "Waterworld" would be so derided. Kevin Costner was still a huge star who could get people out to the theaters, and he was re-teaming with his "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" director. If anything, this should have been a colossal moneymaker. 

Yet it wasn't. Negative opinions of the film started popping up before it was even released. As seen in this 1995 Wall Street Journal piece, the troubled production and towering budget soured the waters of public perception. Audiences hadn't even had a chance to see the movie and they were already being told it was a disaster. No wonder the film didn't make that much money during its initial release.

However, if you were to revisit the film now that all the nonsense about its budget has been washed away, your reaction might be closer to someone like David Ansen from Newsweek, who said, "'Waterworld' is a pretty damn good summer movie. There, I've said it ... it's a breezy, clever entertainment with stirring effects." That's what the film is, a decent excuse for fun visuals and spectacle. 

24. Fandango (1985)

A coming-of-age film doesn't have to be about a literal child. They can also be about characters who need to grow up. Maybe this is because their lives are in ruins and if they don't grow up quickly they'll wind up dead. In the case of this early Costner film from 1985, coming of age means facing potential death. The characters in this film go on a "Stand By Me"-style road trip, not to see a dead body, but to dig up something.

That's their excuse, anyway. Really they're doing it because they've been drafted and there's a very real possibility that they won't survive the war. So they decide to embrace their lives and youth by having a wild time on the road. There is an energy to the film and Costner's performance that has largely been missing in this early part of the list. Like his performance in "Silverado," this doesn't feel like an actor trying to be a movie star. Instead, Costner comes across as a young man just happy to be making a movie, which permeates the rest of the film as well. This is only natural, being that it was director Kevin Reynolds' first movie. He and Costner would reunite on "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and "Waterworld."

23. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

As film critic Mark Kermode said of this 2014 spy thriller based on a character created by Tom Clancy, "It's a slightly old-fashioned movie." While he meant that as a positive, it is the downfall of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." It isn't poorly made or acted, all of that works fine. The problem is it's a little too by-the-numbers. Instead of adapting another one of Clancy's books that features the intelligence analyst character, the filmmakers decide to try a new story, but not do anything all that new with it.

Although the film could justifiably be considered a throwback, the filmmakers were trying to reboot a character. That usually means breaking new ground in some way. The whole point of a reboot is to take something familiar, if a little outdated, and reinterpret it, make it feel modern. By making an old-fashioned thriller while trying to reimagine a character in his younger days, you've canceled both approaches out. You can't make an interesting and engaging new version of something when you're beholden to the tropes of an older film.

Had the people behind the scenes decided to just do a classic, old-school spy thriller it might have been a lot of fun. If they'd decided to really push the genre in a new direction, that could have been interesting too. Doing both just results in a movie that's watchable, but not much else.

22. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Another example of rebooting a venerable character while also making a "slightly old-fashioned" movie is "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." The reason this movie tops "Shadow Recruit" is the enthusiasm and fun that emanate from it. These characters aren't very deep, a lot of the sets come off as sloppy and thrown together, and Costner's performance might be the weakest of the whole film, but it feels like everyone involved is trying to have a good time.

Alan Rickman in particular is a big ball of wild enthusiasm. He commits to the silliness of the Sheriff of Nottingham so completely that he is a total delight. Aside from some outdated and insensitive depictions of non-English cultures, the movie tries to keep a light tone that holds up for the most part. It's not surprising that the film has this "let's put on a show" spirit since it was directed by Kevin Reynolds, whose debut feature ("Fandango," discussed earlier) had a youthful exuberance that he seems to have carried with him for a few more years.

The classic swashbuckling elements are a bit at odds with this more satirical and occasional dark take on the legendary character, and that dichotomy weighs it down a bit. But most of it is done with a bit of a wink, making it a fun viewing experience

21. The Highwaymen (2019)

There are supposedly two sides to every story, and this is the law side to the story of Bonnie and Clyde. Instead of focusing on the murderers as two individuals tied up in the passion of the moment, "The Highwaymen" depicts the couple as dangerous killers who need to be taken down. While it's a mostly entertaining take on the events, watching grizzled cops willing to do anything to get the job done is a little tiresome.

The film looks great and has a wonderful atmosphere, but the real draw is its two stars, Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. While Harrelson is always engaging in whatever he does, seeing him play off Costner allows both actors to shine. Costner gives his usual "average American guy just looking to do the right thing" performance and Harrelson gets to be a little unhinged and quirky. Although falling into classic schtick can be a detriment to most films, it works here because both actors are so comfortable in those roles and clearly enjoying it.

20. Draft Day (2014)

Here's a movie that says, "Let's take Costner's sports film pedigree and put it to use off the field." Yes, "Draft Day" is a Kevin Costner sports movie where he isn't the star athlete. Instead, he is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. In a lot of ways, it's still a classic Kevin Costner sports movie, but all the action happens in offices and conference rooms.

Directed by late comedy great Ivan Reitman, the movie doesn't stray too far from typical film conventions, but still works as a piece of light entertainment. The real charm of the movie is its cast. Not only is Costner good in the film, but he's surrounded by actors like Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, and Dennis Leary, who are all established presences. Then there's Tom Welling of "Smallville" getting a chance to shine on the big screen, and Chadwick Boseman as an exciting new football talent, just as he was a rising star in Hollywood as well. 

It may not change your life, and it will probably make way more sense if you're actually into football, but it's a fine film.

19. American Flyers (1985)

1985 was a big year for Kevin Costner, with the young actor appearing in three films: "Silverado," "Fandango," and "American Flyers." There is a common thread through this little early years trilogy, and it is youth. All the characters he played that year are both young in terms of years but also enthusiasm. Later in his career, Costner would be known for playing relatively stoic roles. In 1985, though, his characters glowed with excitement and optimism. It's nice to see him let loose as a character who likes to embrace and reveal emotion, rather than bottling it up.

That being said, "American Flyers" itself is decent. Nothing mind-blowing here, but it works. The racing scenes work well and the characters mesh. It isn't particularly enlightening or profound, but it is mostly pleasant entertainment. The real charm is in seeing a more energetic Kevin Costner enjoy himself, rather than doing his best to be a movie star — even though he would become a movie star shortly after.

18. Open Range (2003)

Six years after "The Postman," Kevin Costner returned to the director's chair for the 2003 Western "Open Range." This time, he co-stars with Robert Duvall, meaning he doesn't have to carry the entire film on his shoulders. Whether or not this affected his directing style is nothing but speculation, but one can't help but notice the scale of the film and how much more engaging it looks than his previous directing effort.

This movie feels like pure Costner. It is big, a little longer than maybe it should be, and pretty simple. Like many of his good films, this is grand Hollywood filmmaking that hits the right notes, but with little improvisation. It reminds you of great Westerns, but doesn't exactly transcend and become one itself. Still, all the elements click and make for a good watch. Roger Ebert called it "an imperfect but deeply involving and beautifully made Western." 

17. McFarland USA (2015)

"McFarland USA" is the epitome of cinematic comfort food, meaning that the film holds almost no surprises, but you don't feel guilty for enjoying it. It is designed and executed as a purely uplifting and heartwarming experience, and it succeeds.

From director Niki Caro, the film tells the true story of a football coach who moves to a Latino community in McFarland, California after losing his job. Originally meant to coach more football, he notices just how fast his players are (thanks to their need to run to work and school) and turns them into a cross-country running team. The film deals with themes of feeling out of place, or rising up to the challenges put on characters by society, similar to Caro's films "Whale Rider" and the live-action remake of "Mulan."

In this case, cross-country running is seen as a sport for rich white people, like golf. It just doesn't fit into the hardworking and difficult lifestyle these kids are used to. However, with a little patience and understanding, they're able to make it work. It's a classic story of the human spirit adapting and overcoming hardship, like all the best cinematic pieces of comfort food usually are.

16. Molly's Game (2017)

Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Molly Bloom's book, "Molly's Game," was almost cut from the list. It isn't exactly a Kevin Costner movie in a traditional sense, as he is in very little of it. However, we decided to keep it because of just how important his character is in the entire film. Sure, he only has one major scene, but it's important, and his character looms over Molly like a threatening storm cloud throughout the whole movie.

Also, it's nice to see the actor deliver Sorkin's dialogue. One can imagine that a role in an Aaron Sorkin movie is the sort of thing an actor dreams about, especially one who isn't as ubiquitous with pop culture as he once was. Costner doesn't waste it either. Occasionally, his performances come off as a little stiff or calculated. Here, though, he truly comes across as a man who thinks what he did was right, even if he feels bad about it. Encouraging one's children to achieve greatness is fine, but pushing them so hard that they grow up to run high-stakes poker games and become a money launderer is atrocious. 

Therefore the film makes the list of Kevin Costner movies not only for its quality (though it is good) but because of Costner's imposing presence and the strength of his performance.

15. Message In A Bottle (1999)

Before other Nicholas Sparks adaptations like "The Notebook" or "A Walk to Remember" came along, there was "Message in a Bottle," an intensely sappy film dripping with easily manipulative emotions that somehow works. The central idea of finding a lost love letter in a bottle is instantly intriguing: the mind ignites with theories and speculation over who the writer must be and what drove them to bare their soul in such a traditionally romantic gesture.

The story, however, goes pretty much the way you would expect, aside from the ending. The woman who finds the letter, played by Robin Wright, tracks down the writer, who's the perfect, sensitive everyman. They fall in love, but they have this secret between them — he doesn't know she's there because of the letter. Of course, this is going to lead to a huge misunderstanding and blowout.

Where the film zags, though, is the ending. Roger Ebert described it as "shameless, contrived, and wildly out of tune with the rest of the story." Perhaps he's right, but against your better judgment, the melodrama kind of works, and you may find yourself listening to your own sappy, romantic heart instead of your brain.

14. Mr. Brooks (2007)

"Mr. Brooks" has an interesting concept: a serial killer who lives a normal life discovers he cannot give up his addiction and his daughter might be just like him. However, it doesn't fully explore that idea with a satisfying narrative. Perhaps this could be because this was meant to be the first installment in a trilogy, which would have allowed more time to really let the premise breathe, but it doesn't look like that's ever going to happen.

This is a real shame because all the pieces are there. Toying with this character and revealing how his addiction to murder is invading his seemingly perfect personal life could be a lot of fun. Then, of course, there's the chance to see how far his daughter takes her impulses as well. Most importantly, however, is a sequel (or two) would give us a chance to see more of Kevin Costner and William Hurt playing off each other. Their dynamic was the real star of the film, and it would have been excellent to see that carry on.

13. Man of Steel (2013)

While other reboots featuring Kevin Costner have tried to make familiar films with a few newer elements, 2013's "Man of Steel" tried to do the exact opposite. Instead of a linear story about the destruction of Krypton, Kal-El's evacuation, and his discovery by Jonathan and Martha Kent on Earth, leading to the introduction of Superman to the world, the filmmakers went in a new direction.

We still get the origin story, but the narrative jumps around. A lot of the story takes place on Krypton, followed by a time jump. Kal-El's time with his adopted parents is told in flashback. Instead of taking the journey with Clark, we glimpse his memories and they're more brooding than typically depicted in other adaptations. This Clark Kent isn't sure how he feels about being an alien. He's more conflicted and moody than other Supermen.

Whether or not that works for you depends on how you feel about the character. What cannot be questioned, however, are the performances here. Costner is excellent as Jonathan Kent, and his chemistry with Diane Lane carries over to the next film on this list. In fact, while their motivations might be slightly different than longtime comics fans are used to, Costner, Lane, Cavill, and Dylan Sprayberry (one of the young Clarks) work well together and bring real heart to their characters.

12. Let Him Go (2020)

There aren't a ton of suspense films in Kevin Costner's filmography. The few we've encountered already make it clear that suspense isn't the actor's strong suit. That, however, is not the case with 2020's dark and heartwrenching "Let Him Go." While seeing such a grounded, all-American actor in supernatural suspense films like "Dragonfly" and "The New Daughter" is jarring, he works very well alongside Diane Lane in this very real and tense film about abuse.

After the death of her husband, a woman named Lorna marries a violent man named Donnie. Lorna's former mother-in-law (Lane) sees Donnie hit both her grandson and Lorna. Knowing that the right thing to do is rescue their grandson from this destructive situation, Lorna and her husband George (Costner) track the family down to a remote town in North Dakota. There they meet Donnie's mother, a shockingly violent and cruel woman played by Lesley Manville.

What follows is legitimately gripping and powerful to watch. Released at a fairly inopportune time, it seems that the film hasn't caught on with a larger audience despite its quality. This fact was pointed out by critic Leonard Maltin, who said of the film, "Released in theaters in November, during the pandemic, 'Let Him Go' never had a chance to find the audience it deserves. Now that it's available on streaming platforms I feel obliged to spread the word."

11. Hidden Figures (2016)

The last time we saw Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer in a movie dealing with race it was the mediocre 2014 family drama "Black or White." Just two years later, they were back together again to tell a much more fascinating story about race, handled with a more gentle and adept touch than their previous collaboration.

"Hidden Figures" tells the intriguing story of a group of Black women who worked in a segregated department within NASA in the 1960s. It could have easily been an indulgent, sappy affair where characters monologue a bunch of platitudes about the ugliness of racism and sexism. It isn't so much about preaching as it is about representation: the film doesn't want to sell you on how difficult this situation was or how remarkable these women are. Instead, it just shows it to you.

With a great cast led by Taraji P. Henson, "Hidden Figures" proves that all it takes to tell an authentic story about race and the erasure of history is to simply get talented people to tell the story like it was, without over-the-top dialogue or manipulative storytelling tricks.

10. Tin Cup (1996)

Eight years after first working together on the baseball classic "Bull Durham," Kevin Costner and director Ron Shelton reunited for another "sports and relationships" comedy called "Tin Cup." In this one, the sport is golf, and Costner is again playing a character who used to matter but missed his shot at glory. This time around, his feelings over never reaching his full potential manifest themselves in heavy drinking and an aimless lifestyle.

As in "Bull Durham," Costner is essentially an aging gunslinger called back to his previous profession to prove something. In this film, he's proving to himself that he did have what it takes to make it in the sport and he's proving to Rene Russo's character that he's worthy of her affection. It's a story about a fallen hero redeeming himself, and those are always rewarding. "Tin Cup" also boasts a very impressive cast, with both Don Johnson and Cheech Marin shining in their respective roles as both Costner's antagonist and his conscience. 

9. The Upside of Anger (2005)

At first, the final reveal of this film comes off as strange. How are the characters supposed to react to the fact that the thing that sent them on their current path wasn't true? In fact, it's actually very fitting. "The Upside of Anger" is a romantic comedy about misperceptions. Joan Allen's character is wrong about where she is in life, she's wrong about the kinds of lives her daughters should lead, and she's wrong about her feelings for Kevin Costner. She's also wrong about the film's inciting incident. Accepting that is what causes her character to change.

As is the case with good romantic comedies, the situation the characters find themselves in gives the actors a chance to play off each other. Instead of just fighting, yelling, or throwing one-liners at each other, good rom-coms put their characters in situations that challenge them in various ways. Therefore, the actors are able to dig a little deeper and add depth and shading to their characters. That's where "The Upside of Anger" really works. Everyone is at the top of their game and they feel like real, flawed people in a confusing, human situation.

8. No Way Out (1987)

"No Way Out" is one of those large-scale, prestigious political thrillers that seemed to go out of fashion in the 21st century. Sure, there's "Olympus Has Fallen" and its sequels "London Has Fallen" and "Angel Has Fallen," but nothing like this twisting, suspenseful 1987 film directed by Roger Donaldson. "No Way Out" has all the dark character motivations and shocking twists of a great Hitchcock movie updated for the end of the 1980s.

The setup for the story is simple, but the events that follow are anything but. A naval officer falls in love with the mistress of the Secretary of Defense. When she is accidentally killed by her suspicious and powerful lover, it's up to Costner's character to prove his own innocence. At least, that's what you tell a potential viewer to get them hooked. Yes, that is the plot of the film, but the stuff that makes it truly special and captivating — the plot twists and shocking reveals — can only be discovered while watching it.

7. Thirteen Days (2001)

A little more than 13 years after working together on the political thriller "No Way Out," Kevin Costner and director Roger Donaldson joined forces again for another political film, coincidentally named "Thirteen Days." It's also the second John F. Kennedy-related film to feature the actor in a prominent role.

The film sheds some intense light on the Cuban missile crisis, an actual series of events that could have resulted in a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Our civilization would likely not exist as we know it today, if at all, if these events went differently, and the film does an excellent job of demonstrating just how close to that potentially cataclysmic outcome we were. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert pointed out, "Things might not have happened exactly like this, but it sure did feel like they did."

He is absolutely right. While watching the film, you're aware that these are actors portraying actual people (Bruce Greenwood is an excellent JFK) and that there is artifice here, but it feels emotionally true. Obviously it isn't a documentary, but every element is handled with such care and a matter-of-fact attitude that you can't help but get caught up in the moment as if you're actually living through it.

6. A Perfect World (1993)

As a director, Clint Eastwood is pretty consistent. Sometimes his films are truly great, sometimes they're just okay. While we can't know what exactly goes into a top-notch Eastwood film that makes it stand out from the rest, it might be safe to say that the script and the people around him go a long way in helping a film rise to greatness. While that's true of any film, it's especially true of Eastwood's movies: Most of his films are very simple, but really shine when the script gives an excellent actor something special to do.

"A Perfect World" is an example of this. The concept is straightforward: an escaped convict takes a kid as a hostage. That could have been a simple thriller. However, there's enough room in the script for the actors to dig into their roles and portray them as layered and complicated. The central relationship in the film, between Butch (Costner) and Phillip (T.J. Lowther), is allowed to progress in an organic way that allows the audience to hope they make it out of this safely, even though we know that can't happen. For a film like this to make the viewer question the outcome we're hoping for is a rare and commendable thing.

5. Bull Durham (1988)

"Bull Durham" is really two movies. The first is a comedy about a baseball player a little past his prime (Costner), but with enough comprehension of the game to know how to win, coming in to train a younger player (Tim Robbins) who has all of the skill, but none of the intellect. They're both involved with a woman (Susan Sarandon) who worships the game of baseball like religion and chooses one player every season to take under her wing. The relationship between the three of them is about finding a balance between love, sex, and baseball.

The second film is a slice-of-life depiction of what it's like to be a minor league baseball player. There are long sequences with very little character or plot development. Instead, we watch the sillier side of being a professional athlete, the day-to-day inconveniences that balance out the quasi-glory that comes along with playing a game to make your living.

The film is fondly remembered for a reason. It doesn't glorify the sport or the people who play it, giving it a unique point of view, and the performances are all great. There isn't a weak link in this cast and they are what make these two-films-in-one work.

4. Field of Dreams (1989)

When it comes to sentimentality, few films are as slathered with it as "Field of Dreams." It's a movie that both baseball fans and non-aficionados can sit down and have a good cry over. Why is that? Well, it's not so much about baseball as it is about passion and second chances. Despite the love for baseball on display, the fact that it's about the sport is almost irrelevant.

This isn't just a film about building a baseball field and meeting dead ballplayers, it's about doing whatever it takes to get one last moment with someone you've lost. The field itself is just a facilitator. The film would have been just as relevant if it were about a different sport or building a fast-food restaurant. The point isn't, "Don't we all love baseball?" The point is, "If you had the chance to meet someone who was taken from you one more time, wouldn't you do it?" It's that question that makes this film a legitimate classic that will continue to stand the test of time.

3. The Untouchables (1987)

Kevin Costner has been in some visually ambitious movies over his career, but few have met the historical grandeur and stylistic flourishes of the 1987 Brian De Palma film "The Untouchables." While the filmmaker has always demonstrated a unique visual signature, the cinematography in this big-screen adaptation of the 1957 Eliot Ness memoir grabs you by the collar, pulls you down into 1930s Chicago and doesn't let you go until the credits roll.

David Mamet's dialogue is fantastic, as always, while Costner as Ness, Robert De Niro as Al Capone and Sean Connery as Jim Malone give superb performances that make their battle for the streets of Chicago almost mythic. But it's the visuals that really sell this movie. From those Armani suits to the epic architecture and suitably dark alleys, "The Untouchables" constantly appeals to the eye, making the dangerous world around these characters feel all-encompassing. Aside from a few shocking moments, there aren't a ton of surprises here — given that it's based on a true story — but it is hard not to appreciate such cinematic escapism.

2. JFK (1991)

Just one year after "Dances With Wolves," Kevin Costner starred in another massive film about American history called "JFK." Directed by Oliver Stone (also known for "Platoon," "Wall Street," and the screenplay for "Scarface"), the film examines the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and whether or not there was a conspiracy to murder him. It is both an interesting historical document and an intense film that, like many Oliver Stone movies, can confuse you and hit you on a primal, guttural level.

The filmmaking itself is kinetic and impossible not to appreciate. The complex information and plot can get disorienting, but that's probably the point. In the decades following the release of the film, misinformation and conspiracies began to dominate the media landscape. While this film is in no way responsible for that, it can be difficult to revisit a movie that forces you to question everything and figure out the truth, when that is something the majority of us are doing on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the technical aspects of the film and its incredible cast keep you glued to the screen. 

1. Dances With Wolves (1990)

Kevin Costner's first attempt at directing a film was a major triumph. Not only was "Dances With Wolves" a financial success, it also took home a slew of Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. While none of that necessarily means the film is good, a revisit will confirm for you that it absolutely is.

Looking back on the film from a modern perspective can be tricky. The story of a white man being accepted by a Native American tribe so absolutely that they consider him to be one of them is a tough premise to engage with today. However, the movie takes its time to set up the events leading to his acceptance in such a believable way that you find yourself buying into it. If nothing else, you're willing to accept that within the reality of this film, that could totally happen.

This is a film that brings the viewer in so gradually that you can't help but be enthralled by every step John Dunbar takes in his new life. When we meet him, he's willing to sacrifice himself just so he can die. By the end, he's willing to sacrifice himself to let others live, and that is a change we can all identify with. This is a man who found something he believes in so completely, he is ready to die for it. Through this fictional experience, we can all have some idea of what that must feel like.