Poor Kevin Costner. The guy could do no wrong in the late eighties to early nineties. Then something happened. Some say it was The Bodyguard (which was a hit). Others claim it was Wyatt Earp (which was a flop). Waterworld only sealed the deal. One way or another though, the American public and critics started turning on KC and he hasn't been the same box office juggernaut since.
Now it would be very easy for me to make a list of his five best movies. They'd probably all date 1991 or prior. But the guy has made some solid flicks since. I was going to write this post listing five good-to-great Costner flicks post-Waterworld. Thing is, I ran into a little problem. I couldn't nail down five. Not in good conscience, anyway. For example, Dragonfly wasn't terrible, but not exactly good. I'm not about to wax poetic about the great, under-appreciated work found within 3000 Miles to Graceland either (mostly because there isn't any). So I'm left with, uh, four. Yep. Four good ones. Hey, the number five is arbitrary, anyway. Here they be:
Once upon a time, Ron Shelton and Kevin Costner made for a great team. This was their second collaboration and it just plain works. KC isn't so backed up and uptight here. He's loosey-goosey and kind of scummy and it's a nice fit. Cheech Marin provides nice second banana work while Rene Russo and her co-star provide some legitimate chemistry. Also, I love Shelton's bittersweet endings and this one especially.
A very good Mike Binder drama that I always thought Joan Allen should have been nominated for. Costner plays a supporting role this time and he's one of the best things in the movie. He funny and actually added life to the film (no, seriously).
This is an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some critics tried to make a big deal about Costner's accent but it's okay. A little nails-on-the-chalkboard perhaps but ... overall his performance is very good. Bruce Greenwood deserved some Oscar recognition for his atypical JFK work. This is one smart, intense, well-executed flick.
This is probably my favorite film on this list. Costner may have given Robert Duvall (who is fantastic here) the lead but he gave himself one of the best roles of his career. This film isn't Dances With Wolves-good, but it contains some of his most successfully directed sequences since. Beautiful cinematography is on hand in this nicely paced western, interspersed with sudden bursts of violence. And darnit if that gunfight at the end doesn't rank up there with some of the best I've seen.
I'm hoping Costner's latest film, Mr. Brooks (due out this week), could round out a top five next time; Lord knows I have a spot waiting for it.
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Dre writes three times a week for Film.com, covering Movies and DVD with his Floridian flare. E-mail him!