Best Kevin Costner Movies: A Definitive List of His Greatest Films

by Joe Rutland

Go ahead and think of leading men in movies. Many come to mind but if you bring up Kevin Costner, then some people might snicker. Sure, he has had his fair share of flops (and we’ll help get the laughs out with Waterworld). Yet step away from that movie and think back to the 1980s and 1990s for a minute. Are you going to say that Kevin Costner was not a leading man for a bit? Oh man, he put together some films indeed. Among them are Tin Cup, A Perfect World, Silverado, Open Range, and The Bodyguard. But those aren’t the ones we’ll focus on here.

Kevin Costner Delivers In Many Different Roles From His Movies

What makes Kevin Costner so likable in his movies is that there’s a depth to the roles. Yes, let’s all raise a glass of beer to Crash Davis in Bull Durham. Hey, let’s even sit in the courtroom and hear Jim Garrison tell us about theories in JFK. What about his turn as Ray in Field of Dreams? Yeah, we can’t forget about Dances with Wolves, too.

Kevin Costner is known by a generation today for playing John Dutton on Yellowstone. But there are many people who remember him from being a major movie star that has moviegoers sitting on the edges of their seats. Well, let’s take a look at a definitive list of his greatest films.

The Untouchables

No, this is not your grandfather’s Eliot Ness played on TV by Robert Stack. Costner does play Ness in the Brian de Palma film. He has to go up against Robert De Niro playing Al Capone, too. Yes, De Niro does a hell of a job in playing Capone. But don’t sleep on Kevin Costner here. He has his fair share of solid scenes and even gets to work next to Sean Connery. For his role, Connery won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. Costner, though, was off and running in the leading man role.

Dances with Wolves

Kevin Costner did win an Oscar as Best Director for this film. Oh, it’s a fine one too. Based on a novel by Michael Blake, we watch Lieutenant John J. Dunbar, played by Costner, go to the American frontier and get to know the Lakota Native American tribe. This movie took the Oscar voters’ hearts by also winning the Best Picture, too. This was the first film Costner directed.

Bull Durham

My favorite scene in this movie is when the batboy comes up to Crash Davis. He says, “Get a hit, Crash.” Davis looks at him and says, “Shut up, kid.” It was said in that “I’ve been playing minor-league baseball too long” voice. And what a role for Kevin Costner indeed. Go beyond the baseball and sports movies, though. The actor brings out a dose of suave, strong manhood as he’s dealing with Annie (played by Susan Sarandon). The chemistry between them is fantastic.


This is a hard movie to watch for some and it’s one from the Oliver Stone world, too. Costner plays District Attorney Jim Garrison, who is solely focused on finding who did kill President John F. Kennedy. Watching him play Garrison is almost like going to acting school. He’s meticulous in his moves. Of course, JFK is no walk in the park. Courtroom drama. Conspiracy theories. Still, the star that stands out is Costner as Garrison.

Field of Dreams

That Iowa cornfield. Watching James Earl Jones wax poetically about baseball. What a sight for moviegoers to connect with Costner. He plays Ray, a farmer who truly believes that he’s supposed to put a baseball diamond in his cornfield. Observe Ray. He’s coming to grips with his emotions toward his father. But Costner just has that “it” factor in a movie he would call at one time “our generation’s It’s a Wonderful Life.” Baseball, Costner, and a cornfield. It just works.

Wyatt Earp

Costner plays the lead role in this star-turner with Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Isabella Rossellini, and Bill Pullman along, too. Wyatt Earp follows the journey of a man that ends up at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. No, it is not Tombstone. That’s another movie. Still, the Lawrence Kasdan movie carries a lot of weight in length and focus. Costner is on his game here, too, in the wild west.