Everyone needs to know their wheelhouse. And one man who knows his is Kevin Costner. His wheelhouse is sports movies. There isn’t another actor on this planet that I would rather watch in a sports movie than him.
My wife questions whether or not he’s a good actor, I say that it doesn’t matter because he knows his audience and he knows what works.
To that end, I decided to breakdown a few of Costner’s most notable sports movie roles and decide which was the most Costner-esque.
Sports movies typically follow a standard formula that all end with the “Big Game.” However, that doesn’t always make for a great sports movie. While Costner’s sports roles have used the “Big Game at the End” format, he also uses the “Ending is Bigger than the Game” format. Typically, this makes for a better movie, IMO.
To determine which Costner sports role is the best, I’ve devised the following super scientific measurements:
What were the stakes?
What was the result?
Did winning matter?
Overall Costner-ness of the film?
#5 Sonny Weaver Jr. – Draft Day
What were the stakes? The future of the Cleveland Browns franchise. Sonny drafted away three consecutive 1st round picks to obtain the 1st overall pick in the current year’s draft. He spends the film debating what to do with that pick.
Did winning matter? Yes. The owner told him to make a splash and he did. However, he soon realizes that his splash was not what’s best for the franchise.
What was the result? Sonny passed on a potential franchise quarterback, Bo Callahan and chose linebacker Vontae Mack with the 1st overall selection. He then proceeded to trade 2nd round picks to obtain the 6th pick, in order to prevent Seattle from picking Callahan. He then swaps the 6th pick with them and in return gets the 7th pick, the three 1st rounders he traded away to begin with, and a punt returner.
Overall Costner-ness of the film? Pretty Costner. This movie came out in 2014, so Costner was working like a well-oiled machine at this point.
#4 Billy Chapel – For Love of the Game
What were the stakes? A perfect game. And the perfect cap to the brilliant career of Billy Chapel.
Did winning matter? Yes. He wanted the perfect game. Plain and simple.
What was the result? With two outs, rookie hits a comebacker that goes off of Chapel’s glove and looks to be heading into the outfield, ending his bid for a perfect game. BUT THEN, Detroit’s second baseman makes a diving stop and throws the batter out at first. A PERFECT GAME!
Overall Costner-ness of the film? It’s up there. A lot of Costner’s movies that came out in the 90’s had a very similar feel, this was no exception.
#3 Ray Kinsella – Field of Dreams
What were the stakes? While Ray didn’t know it at the time, the stakes were a chance to make amends with his father. Sports stakes? Zero. Life stakes? Infinite.
Did winning matter? Hard to say. He listened to the voice and did what was asked of him, with nothing in return. He just felt it was something he needed to do. Until the end, of course, when he asked what was in it for him.
What was the result? After building the field and going through everything that happens in the film, he finally asks what was in it for him. It’s revealed that “If you build it, he will come” means that if he built the field, his father would return. Ray and his dad have a catch and everyone watching the movie cries.
Overall Costner-ness of the film? Quite Costner. Probably his most fun sports role. I had a hard time not putting this as #2.
#2 Roy McAvoy – Tin Cup
What were the stakes? A U.S. Open victory and a chance to stick it to his rival, David Simms.
Did winning matter? Nope. He wanted to nail his shot over the water, winning be damned. Probably the most DGAF Costner moment.
What was the result? McAvoy makes a 12 on the final hole, but finally hits his shot. He doesn’t win the Open, but makes one of the greatest shots in (fictional) golf history. Relive it here.
Overall Costner-ness of the film? Costner was at his peak for this movie. Very, very Costner.
#1 Crash Davis – Bull Durham
What were the stakes? The minor league home run record and the love of Annie Savoy.
Did winning matter? Yes. While he considered the minor league home run record to be a dubious honor, he still went for it. In fact, after he hit the home run to get the record, he hung up his spikes. And another yes to winning the heart of Annie. He knew they would be perfect together and didn’t let up for the whole movie.
What was the result? See above. After hitting his home run and retiring, he went back to be with Annie and ponders a career as a major league manager.
Overall Costner-ness of the film? This is the quintessential Costner sports role. #1 with a bullet.
Ya’ll know what he called the umpire.