'Bull Durham' vs. 'Field of Dreams': What's Kevin Costner's Best Sports Movie?

It wouldn't be a proper Kevin Costner renaissance without a sports movie on his docket, and fortunately there's one such addition to the actor's resume with the opening of Draft Day

Following his turns in superhero and action movies in the past year, Draft Day puts Costner in an NFL-set drama. Outside of conversations his characters have in Swing Vote and Three Days to Kill, this is actually his first foray into football territory.

Mostly he's known for baseball movies, with two in particular being the fan favorites: Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. Released a year apart, they're quite different in spite of their shared pasttime, the former a love story and the latter a fantasy. When we polled users on Twitter for the answer to which is the best, though, Durham received twice as many votes as Dreams.

Do you agree with the majority choice, or do you favor one of the other four Kevin Costner sports movies below?

Bull Durham

The preference of those we polled as well as critics, this is actually Costner's best reviewed movie overall (not counting the Tom Petty documentary he appears in), according to Rotten Tomatoes. It's his first collaboration with Ron Shelton, who makes his directorial debut with this semiautobiographical effort. Costner plays minor league catcher "Crash" Davis (based on the director), who is involved in a love triangle between a rookie pitcher (Tim Robbins) he's mentoring and a woman (Susan Sarandon) seeking a kind of student of her own. 

Field of Dreams

Despite coming in second place in our poll, Phil Alden Robinson's adaptation of the novel Shoeless Joe was a bigger box office success and a hit with the Academy, which nominated the movie for Best Picture. It also has a greater IMDb rating, 7.6 to Durham's 7.1, and on Rotten Tomatoes it has a higher audience score if not higher critical approval. This time Costner is an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield after hearing voices vaguely telling him to do so. 

Tin Cup

Reteaming with Shelton, Costner trades a baseball bat for a golf club in our poll's third placer. Theatrically, it was just as much a hit as Durham, yet critics didn't take to it nearly as much and IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes users rate it much lower, as well. Again he plays a pro in a love triangle, here falling for a psychologist (Rene Russo), who is the girlfriend of his rival on the green (Don Johnson).

For the Love of the Game

One vote in our poll went to this adaptation of Michael Shaara's novel, in which Costner picks up the bat again under the direction of unlikely sports movie helmer Sam Raimi. While it does have its fans -- evidence includes better IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes user scores than Tin Cup -- the movie was a box office and critical failure. In this he's an aging major league player who pitches a perfect game for his swan song as we see his life depicted through interspersed flashbacks.

American Flyers

This early movie from Costner's resume did not earn any votes in our poll, but it rounds out the actor's crop of movies focused primarily on a sports story. It wasn't much of a hit when released in 1985, but it has a modest level of critical and audience favor. The sport is cycling, and Costner is a doctor specializing in athletes. The plot follows him and his brother as they compete in a cross-country race in the Colorado Rockies.

Honorable mentions:

Although not a sports movie, in The Upside of Anger Costner plays a retired baseball player turned talk-radio host. 

He reunited again with Shelton for a brief cameo apperance in the boxing movie Play It to the Bone.

And he narrates the documentary Laffit: All About Winning about jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr.

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