Legendary Actors: Denzel Washington

There are many actors in Hollywood who sustain a bit of a successful run. Some have a 4 or 5 big hit movie run, some have a decade that they tend to own. There are very few who maintain success for 3 decades and on a high level. Denzel Washington is to me, True God, the greatest(translation: my favorite) actor of all time. Granted, there could be others who took more diverse roles, bigger risks creatively, or had larger grossing films, but Denzel has a filmography that is truly legendary and his cool resolve coupled with his ability to bring forth emotion in the perfect instances make him that to me. Today, we look back at his career and try to rank our favorite films from him as well. Let's get it started.

I've managed to watch most of Denzel Washington's movies, but never really realized that with every role I saw, I was gaining a profound appreciation for him as an actor. Soon, I began to realize that he belonged on my top 5 favorite actors of all time list and with good reason.

The very first Denzel movie I ever saw was "He Got Game" and then "Remember The Titans", "Training Day", "John Q" and so on...before I knew it I was convinced: Denzel Washington is one of the greatest actors of all time. Easily.

His filmography is massive, his roles cover a wide (and differing) range, his abilities endless and he can make you believe he IS the character...flawless. As if that wasn't enough, he can even do his own stunts (Book of Eli)

Picking a top 5 list was not easy, at all, and after much consideration, I finally ranked these as my top 5 Denzel movies:

1. John Q
2. American Gangster
3. Malcolm X
4. Inside Man
5. Training Day

Honorable Mention:
The Equalizer
Remember the Titans 
Man on Fire

Each one of these holds its rank because Denzel, as I mentioned, has the ability to convince me as a viewer, that he lived, breathed and actually WAS each character. I think that speaks volumes to talent because there aren't many who can do this regardless of the role thrown at them. I feel like there is no character he can't portray and that to me is mark of greatness. Denzel has won 39 awards at various awards shows (from Oscars, Golden Globes, NAACP, MTV etc) for best actor and best supporting actor. It's no wonder he's ranked and able to compare to legends like Sidney Poitier.

Denzel is easily my favorite actor of all time, and one of the best as well. Literally any movie he acts in turns out to be a good one, overall, to me. I would say that his best movie is Malcolm X. Watching Denzel act out speeches in the movie and then comparing them to actual X speeches, it's crazy how well he got X's personality down. He really was the perfect actor for the role, and he proved it. Crimson Tide, where he acts alongside Gene Hackman, is another really great movie. Probably the second best to me. There are plenty other greats, but American Gangster takes 3rd place for me. Great acting again and since the crime-story genre is one which I really enjoy, and American Gangster is one of the finest I've seen from the genre, it's up there as one of the best. He Got Game, Unstoppable, Mo Better Blues, Glory, Man On Fire and many others are also great movies. I actually don't think I can name a bad Denzel Washington film! True great, he is one of the best ever.

My favorite Denzel films are Training Day, The Siege and The Equalizer. I think Training Day is most people's favorite choice of his movies. It is a great film that showed us a bad Denzel, a villain that was sort of an anti hero. Plus the death scene is up there with Tony Montana's death as a cult classic embedded in Americana. The Siege was just a good movie all around and I think he played a good role alongside Bruce Willis and Annette Benning. The Equalizer is just too raw and dope all around. It's in the same vein as Man on Fire in which he is protecting or helping a young white girl, but he was pure bad ass in the movie. Definitely an all timer to me.

Denzel Washington is one of the top actors of our time. He kills every role he plays. If I had to choose, I'd choose his character in The Equalizer as my favorite. That whole movie was amazing. But we got to see him in a different light.

As Robert McCall, he was living a normal life during the day, but righting the wrongs he saw at night. He was so cool and precise with his actions. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Another unexpected role Denzel played was the pilot in Flight. For whatever reason, it took me a while to see this. When I finally did, I was immediately impressed. Again, we saw the actor show his versatility as an alcoholic trying to avoid the consequences that came with a crash he caused.

I enjoy thespians that aren't afraid to spread their wings. He even won an Oscar for his lead role as a crooked cop in Training Day. To go from Malcolm X to a drug using officer is amazing.  Denzel can do no wrong in my eyes. The man is legendary.

As I stated earlier, Denzel is my favorite actor of all time. Virtuosity aside, he has a damn near flawless movie catalog. Now, my first time seeing Denzel on screen was honestly on a film most people don't talk about when referencing him, The Mighty Quinn. A film that features Denzel as a police chief and Robert Townsend as his best friend on the run from the cops, a young True was a big fan of this movie growing up. I always thought the whole island feel of the film was great and both Townsend and Denzel did amazing jobs. I'm not a huge fan of Glory, though it was a good film and one that got Denzel his first Oscar, but he did a great job in the film as Silas Trip.

Mo' Better Blues is another classic of his that I truly enjoyed and it was the beginning of the Denzel and Spike Lee working relationship that would spawn yet another iconic role, and my personal no. 1 Denzel movie, Malcolm X. Malcolm X is one of my biggest influences in general and his autobiography is my all time favorite book. Seeing a movie based on that was honestly amazing to watch, but what added to that as well was the performance Denzel put forth in this film. His mannerisms, his passion when giving the speech, this is the greatest role he has ever had and one that I feel he was robbed of an Oscar for, just because of the figure he played. It is criminal to me in many ways that he didn't win an Oscar, because this was truly his finest hour.

An underrated film of his is Ricochet, where he is tortured damn near the entire movie by John Lithgow(who always plays a villain), and has some of the worst things imaginable happen to him. He also appeared in Much Ado About Nothing, based off the Shakespeare play of the same name, which has to be considered a career highlight. It was during this 1992-1996 period that Denzel started coming into his own with roles in The Preacher's Wife, The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Devil In A Blue Dress, and Crimson Tide, most of which were hits.

The late 90s would see Denzel work with Spike Lee again for He Got Game, a film that's honestly a bit strange in pieces, but overall Denzel provides an amazing performance. His work in Fallen is slept on, though I'm not a huge fan of the movie. I truly enjoyed his work in The Siege as well, not to mention his amazing role as The Hurricane. Remember The Titans is yet another good one that he starred in, and at this point, it seemed that Denzel could do no wrong. A film that gets lost in his filmography would be The Bone Collector with Angelina Jolie, where Denzel plays a paraplegic trying to track down a killer. Another gem of his that was slept on.

My no. 2 favorite Denzel movie is honestly American Gangster, while my no. 3 is his Oscar winning performance in Training Day, as I tend to be partial to the more edgy roles that Denzel takes. Those are my favorite films of his. His directorial debut in Antwone Fisher was pretty solid as well, just as his Man On Fire performance was a classic. My no. 4 pick for him would be his reunion with Spike Lee again again on the masterful Inside Man, which is truly a great movie. My no. 5 really hits home for me as a father, as John Q rounds out my top 5 and I truly love that film.

In the last decade of so, Denzel has seen his films become blockbusters and every time he releases one, it receives an amazing amount of fanfare and usually debuts at no. 1. I enjoyed Safe House, The Taking of Pelham 123, and his Oscar nominated performance in Flight was absolutely amazing. Even in The Equalizer, Denzel once again puts forth an amazing turn. Denzel is hands down one of the greatest actors of all time, and to me he is no. 1 purely.

Have a top 5 Denzel film list? Or thoughts on his career? Post in the comments below.



Popular Posts