Top 5 / Bottom 5: Kevin Costner

Posted Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 12:35 PM PDT by

by Aaron Peck

Kevin Costner is about as divisive a Hollywood figure as Nicolas Cage. He's renowned for picking terrible roles in misguided, epic failures, but he's also starred in some much-loved films. Costner's filmography spans the insanely bad and the amazingly great. Here's something interesting, among Costner's starring roles on IMDb, the scores run the gamut, from 98 percent down to a dismal 7 percent. The guy has range!

With the release of 'The Bodyguard,' this week I thought we'd devote a Top 5 / Bottom 5 to the best and worst of Costner's career. You'll notice I left 'Waterworld' off the list completely, (Think of it as having its own special place in film history.) believe it or not, there are five films on his resume that are even worse than that record-making box office bomb.

The Best

'Bull Durham'

Critically-acclaimed and adored by audiences almost universally, 'Bull Durham' features one of Costner's very best roles. In many of his movies Costner plays a stoic, unflappable hero, but here he shows that he actually has a well-tuned sense of humor when directed by someone like Ron Shelton, who is able to extract comedic performances from people who I never thought were funny. Who would've though Wesley Snipes was such a hoot until Shelton directed him in 'White Men Can't Jump.'

'Dances with Wolves'

This movie remains one of Costner's most memorable films, save for 'Field of Dreams.' It seems that after 'Dances with Wolves' Costner took on an increasingly bad list of movies. Still, the epic movie about Lt. John W. Dunbar is still emotionally resonant, even today.

'Field of Dreams'

Thinking back on all of Costner's films this is always the one that sticks out in my mind the most. Not only can it be considered to be among his best films, it's also the preeminent movie for anyone who wants to watch a good baseball flick. It's one of the best and most memorable baseball movies of all time.


Personally, 'JFK' is on my list of the top ten movies of all-time. I have a soft spot for anything JFK Conspiracy related. True, or blatantly false, Stone's picture is moving, intense, and full of fantastic performances. Smack-dab in the middle of these great performances is Kevin Costner portraying a Hollywoodized version of real-life attorney Jim Garrison. I could watch this movie again and again. It never gets old.

'The Untouchables'

Directed by Brian DePalma and penned by legendary playwright David Mamet, 'The Untouchables' is one seriously underrated gangster flick. Whenever the topic of gangster movies is brought up we always hear of 'Goodfellas' or 'The Godfather' first, but 'The Untouchables' was just as artful and memorable as those films.

The Worst


Has there ever been a worse supernatural "horror" movie than 'Dragonfly'? I still remember people freaking out because of the trailers and then getting in the theater only to be bored to death by this utterly dull, un-suspenseful slog through melodrama. It's just an awful film that just so happens to be awfully stupid at the same time.

'Message in a Bottle'

Yes, it's every bit as sappy and cloying as any other Nicholas Sparks novel turned movie. There are a lot of tears, but like so many of Sparks' stories it all seems so hollow. The entire movie is foolishly sentimental and never once approaches a story that is worth caring about.

'Mr. Brooks'

'Dexter' made serial killers cool, Kevin Costner made them suck. Granted it isn't all Costner's fault, even if he is rather doltish as a budding serial killer. The movie also stars Hollywood leech Dane Cook, who can't help but make everything he's in a steaming pile of excrement. I did like William Hurt as Costner's evil alter-ego, but even he couldn't save this muddled affair.

'The New Daughter'

I bet you haven't seen 'The New Daughter' have you? I had the (dis)pleasure of reviewing it for the site a while back, and I can tell you that it definitely isn't worth seeing. It starts out as a promising, low-budget horror movie, then it moves into the unintentionally funny territory of ancient Native American spirits and all sorts of other mumbo jumbo that never makes sense. Costner more or less plods around the set looking lost, like he has no idea why he's in this movie in the first place. It turns out, that's a good question. Why is he in this movie at all?

'The Postman'

'Waterworld' gets all the fame as being Costner's biggest flop, but sometimes we forget that 'The Postman' was an equally massive disappointment. Sure, 'Waterwold' set records with its astronomical budget and terrible domestic returns, but its foreign box office take helped out quite a bit. 'The Postman' however, only made a paltry $17 million domestically, compared to its huge (at the time) $80 million budget. It didn't even garner it's the "so bad it's good" status that 'Waterwold' got. Many people look at 'Waterworld' as a guilty pleasure, while most people don't even give 'The Postman' a second thought.

Even though Costner has a reputation for picking some bad movies, he's also starred in a few of cinema's most memorable ones. How would you rank Costner's top five and bottom five films? Let us know by clicking on the link below and visiting us in the forums.

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Tags: Top 5/Bottom 5, Kevin Costner, Aaron Peck, Fun Stuff (all tags)