Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s 10 Best Movies

Denzel WashingtonDenzel Washington and Tom Hanks are, in my mind, the two best actors of their generation.  Both started in TV, Hanks in comedy with Bosom Buddies, and Washington in drama on St. Elsewhere.  Where Hanks’ career has exceeded Washington’s is not in talent, it is in project selection.  Washington elevates anything he’s in, no matter how mediocre, but he’s unfortunately had stretches of his career where he’s picked projects way beneath his astounding talent level.  Lately, though, Washington has been on a roll balancing commercial successes like The Equalizer and The Magnificent Seven with astounding dramatic performances in films like Flight and Fences.  Like the best actors, there is no limit to what he can achieve if paired with the right cast, project, and director.  He can be eminently likable, intensely despicable, sympathetic, heroic, noble and fallen all with an ease that lulls the audience until he turns it up and he grabs the screen by the throat and sears a moment into your mind forever.  Glory, Philadelphia, The Hurricane, Flight, Fences, all of these films have moments that transcend what even great actors can do, and you realize that you’re watching someone whose work will be remembered as long as they’re showing films.  He’s that good, and he keeps getting better.  Washington is also a talented director, helming Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters, and Fences

Denzel Washington in Glory
Denzel Washington’s Best 10

1. Glory (1989) Pvt. Trip
2. Flight (2012) Whip Whitaker
3. Courage Under Fire (1996) Nat Serling
4. The Hurricane (1999) Rubin Carter
5. Inside Man (2006) Det. Keith Frazier
6. Fences (2016) Troy Maxson
7. Philadelphia (1993) Joe Miller
8. Crimson Tide (1995) Hunter
9. Remember the Titans (2000) Coach Herman Boone
10. St. Elsewhere (1982-1988, NBC) Dr. Phillip Chandler
Honorable Mention: Malcolm X (1992) Malcolm X

Denzel Washington in Flight

Oscars, Golden Globes & Emmys

Oscar Wins (2): Glory (1990), Training Day (2002)

Oscar Nominations (8): Cry Freedom (1988), Glory (1990), Malcolm X (1993), The Hurricane (2000), Training Day (2002), Flight (2013), Fences (2017, Actor & Producer)

Denzel Washington in Fences

Golden Globe Wins (3): Glory (1990), The Hurricane (2000), Cecil B. DeMille Award (2016)

Golden Globe Nominations (10): Cry Freedom (1988), Glory (1990), Malcolm X (1993), The Hurricane (2000), Training Day (2002), American Gangster (2008), Flight (2013), Cecil B. DeMille Award (2016), Fences (2017), Roman J. Israel Esq. (2018)

Denzel Washington in The Hurricane

Emmy Wins (0): None

Emmy Nominations (2): Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (1995, Producer), Half-Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (2001, Producer)

Denzel Washington in Courage Under Fire

My Favorite Washington Scene:
“Take It To Federal Court!” The Hurricane (1999)

Next Film: Washington will reprise his role as vigilante Robert McCall in The Equalizer 2, set for release in August 2018.
The Equalizer 2 Poster

16 thoughts on “Denzel Washington’s 10 Best Movies”

  1. So much good stuff to pick from on his resume. My #1, though, is Malcolm X. What he did in that film is nothing short of breath-taking. I’d also consider some others for my top 10:

    He Got Game
    A Soldier’s Story
    Training Day
    American Gangster
    Man on Fire

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Training Day is overrated. Denzel’s performance in it is not. If I remember, Malcom X is all of four hours long, and is so self indulgent that it’s not one of the filmmaker’s best efforts, but you’re glad to be watching because Denzel is so magnetic.

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      2. I’m wrong, I just looked it up and it’s a bit shorter than I remembered. Still a very long film though. Can’t believe it’s already 30 years old.

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  2. I hold Philadelphia close to my heart, but I most agree with you on Flight being at number 2. Such a great, committed performance. I really think that Washington excels most when he is given these big character roles, such as that in Flight, or, as Paul mentioned above, in Malcolm X.

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  3. Hurricane was his best performance IMO. Man On Fire is the best example of its type of film that I can think of, and I think his performance there belongs on your list, but I understand the dilemmas you faced compiling this. In American Gangster he gave a great performance though the film was only meh. That final interrogation scene, where his character lets his guard down, is mesmirizing.

    I had forgotten about Crimson Tide completely BTW. The guy has given so much that indelible performances in outstanding films are getting lost in the shuffle in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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