There are two weeks to go until the Oscars, where Matthew McConaughey has a strong chance to cap off his self-dubbed “McConaissance” with a best actor win for “Dallas Buyers Club.” It has been an inspired comeback for McConaughey, but Hollywood is always looking for the next big thing and 2014 may bring another comeback for a former A-lister, Kevin Costner.
For most film fans born at the end of the 80s/early 90s, like myself, Kevin Costner is known primarily two things: the controversial win for his “Dances with Wolves” over Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” and the infamous flop “Waterworld.” However, between 1987 and 1995 Costner was arguably one of the biggest movie stars in the world with films like “Bull Durham,” “The Untouchables,” “Field of Dreams,” “JFK” and “The Bodyguard.”
Costner would add some cult favorites like “Tin Cup” and “Open Range,” but his star status has significantly diminished and he would only pop up now and then in the 2000s. It wouldn’t be until a leading role on History Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys” that Costner made his way back to center stage. He followed that up with a supporting turn as Pa Kent in “Man of Steel.” If by chance you missed him in either of those, don’t worry, 2014 is turning into the year of Costner.
Costner has 4 films set to be released in 2014, with the possibility for a 5th. Of those, he is the leading man in 4. He has already been seen as CIA Operative and Chris Pine’s mentor in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and next he’ll play an assassin in McG’s “3 Days to Kill,” set to release on Feb. 21. Costner is taking a page from Liam Neeson and playing the aging action star here to make him relevant with younger audiences and boost box-office cred.
He’s not limiting himself though; Costner has his hands in on a number of different genres. In April, he will star in the sports comedy “Draft Day” where he will play the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns figuring out what to do with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. This will harken back to Costner’s defining roles in “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” and could bridge a generational gap, continuing his awareness with younger audiences, but also reminding older moviegoers of those classic roles.
“Jack Ryan” got average reviews and a modest box-office and the jury is still out on “3 Days to Kill” and “Draft Day,” but more important than the quality of those films is the exposure for Costner. The strength of McConaughey’s comeback was that he was in one thing after the other, making it impossible to get him out of our minds. Of course, it didn’t hurt that his projects have been some of the better movies of the last few years. Costner has a few potential awards contender in his corner, though.
With “McFarland” and “Black and White” Costner could find himself in the middle of an Oscar season for the first time since “JFK.” “McFarland” is a Disney film with Costner as a coach of a small town track team who helps turn them into contenders. Sure to be inspirational and a crowd pleaser, “McFarland” could adopt a similar story to its subjects if it has the goods. Then there is Mike Binder’s “Black and White,” where Costner will play a widower who must enter a custody battle for his granddaughter. Acting opposite of Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer could provide some fireworks.
Whether or not Kevin Costner ends up having the best year of his career, it is nice to see him firmly back in the game. He has always been a professional in terms of how he has carried himself and when you look back at his most famous roles, you can’t deny his talent and positive affect on those films. Costner may never become the biggest movie star in the world again, but to see him get interesting roles in high profile project won’t just be good for him, it will be something we all can enjoy.
(This article first appeared on lenoirauteur.com)