Denzel Washington has been on the silver screen for decades and over his illustrious career, he’s become one of the greatest actors of all time. He’s tackled a variety of roles and genres in the process, leaving behind an incredible legacy and body of work that continues to inspire audiences today. From drama to action and everything in between, here are the top 10 Denzel Washington movies, ranked.
In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a former government operative who now works as a private investigator and vigilante. He comes out of retirement to help a young woman, Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), who has been targeted by the Russian mob. McCall uses his unique skillset to even the odds and protect Teri from the criminals. The Equalizer is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
It would be hard to find an actor more consistently excellent than Denzel Washington. The two-time Oscar winner has made some of the best films of the last few decades, and fortunately for us, he shows no signs of slowing down. Here are 10 of his best movies, ranked.
1. Training Day
Denzel Washington won his second Oscar for his portrayal of Alonzo Harris, a dirty cop in 2001’s “Training Day.” The film follows Harris as he takes rookie Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) under his wing for a day on the job, which quickly goes awry. Director Antoine Fuqua expertly ratchets up the tension as the sun sets over Los Angeles, leading to an explosive finale.
Remember the Titans
In the early 2000s, Denzel Washington was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. One of his most popular films was Remember the Titans, a sports drama based on the true story of an African-American high school football team in Virginia that integrated in 1971. The film was a box office success, grossing over $100 million domestically, and earned Washington a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
In “American Gangster,” Denzel Washington portrays real-life drug kingpin Frank Lucas, who went from hustling on the streets of Harlem to running a multi-million dollar empire. Lucas was ruthless in his business, but had a code of honor that he stuck to. He was also one of the first African American gangsters to make it big in New York City.
The movie follows Lucas as he builds his drug empire and as he is eventually caught by police. It is an excellent portrayal of the rise and fall of a criminal mastermind.
The Great Debaters
In “The Great Debaters”, Washington plays the role of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas. Tolson was a real-life debate coach who helped the school’s team win a national championship in 1935. The film tells the story of how Tolson used his gift for words to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve success in life. Washington’s performance is inspiring and uplifting, and the film is an important reminder of the power of education to change lives.
1. John Q
John Q is a gripping and heart-wrenching drama starring Denzel Washington as a desperate father who takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won’t cover his son’s life-saving transplant. The film also features an excellent performance by James Woods as the hardened hospital administrator who finds himself in the middle of the standoff.
Man on Fire
In “Man on Fire,” Washington plays John Creasy, a former CIA operative who has hit rock bottom. He’s been hired by a wealthy Mexican family to be the bodyguard of their young daughter, Pita (Dakota Fanning). At first, Creasy is just going through the motions, but he slowly starts to care for Pita and becomes fiercely protective of her. When she is kidnapped, Creasy sets out on a bloody revenge crusade to find the perpetrators. “Man on Fire” is a gritty and intense action thriller that features some of Washington’s best work.
In his career, Denzel Washington has played some truly iconic roles. Here are just a few of his best movie moments:
1. Unstoppable – Washington stars as an unstoppable force in this action-packed thriller. He is the perfect blend of intense and cool, making for a truly gripping performance.
2. Training Day – In this crime drama, Washington plays a corrupt cop who takes a young rookie under his wing. His morally ambiguous character is both chilling and captivating, leading to one of the most memorable performances of his career.
3. The Equalizer – Washington stars as a vigilante in this action-packed thriller. He brings a sense of justice to the role that is both admirable and inspiring.
4. Fences – In this moving drama, Washington gives a powerful portrayal of a man struggling to come to terms with his past. His raw emotion and charged delivery are unforgettable.
5. Malcolm X – In this biopic, Washington gives a stirring portrayal of the legendary activist and leader. His commanding presence and stirring speeches make for an electrifying performance.
The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Denzel Washington as a lone warrior who must protect a precious book that could save the world. The story follows Eli as he battles his way across a wasteland to get the book to safety, while being pursued by a ruthless band of cannibals. The film is visually stunning, with stunning scenery and action sequences, and Washington gives an unforgettable performance as the stoic and determined Eli.
1. Flight: Washington plays an airline pilot who is hailed as a hero after he safely lands his damaged plane, but an investigation soon reveals that he was drunk at the time of the incident.