The 5 Best Movies Featuring Denzel Washington

The Equalizer (2014): A man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him cannot stand idly by when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters.

For almost thirty years, Denzel Washington has stood tall as a revered and esteemed figure in Hollywood. His unparalleled acting prowess has given him a pair of Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and a distinguished Tony Award, illuminating his illustrious journey. His portfolio encompasses a diverse tapestry of cinematic brilliance that has captivated many admirers, from grand historical narratives to pulse-pounding action sagas. It only makes sense that his many films would turn into all-time classics.

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We’ve collated a thorough list of some of his best movies. From biopics to crime thrillers, Denzel’s movie roles are just as iconic as his reputation would have you believe. Here are 5 of his best performances.

Glory (1989)

In this historical drama directed by a young Edward Zwick, Washington starred as Private Trip, part of the first all-African-American regiment in the Civil War. Denzel’s remarkable performance earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the first time an African-American had been awarded an Oscar in a stage role. The movie portrays the glory, pride, passion, and harsher realities of the African-American soldiers that actively fought for freedom and emancipation during the Civil War.

Malcolm X (1992)

Directed by Spike Lee, the biographical movie tells the story of the famous and influential African American leader Malcolm X—played exceptionally by Denzel Washington. The movie chronicles the beliefs and accomplishments of the controversial Muslim leader, with Washington showcasing his strength, firmness, and subtlety in the powerful role. Washington is incredible in this role, brilliantly depicting the remarkable and human story of Malcolm X through his performance.

Philadelphia (1993)

Washington also won an Oscar for his performance as lawyer Joe Miller in Philadelphia. The movie follows Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), who was terminated from his job when his employers discovered he had AIDS. Denzel stars as the wise and tenacious lawyer who takes on his case and helps prove that his termination was motivated by discrimination against the homosexual community. The movie tells a touching story about acceptance and dignity, wonderfully backed by Denzel’s persuasive performance.

Training Day (2001)

In one of his more intense roles, Washington starred as the ruthless detective Alonzo Harris in the crime thriller Training Day. Harris is a corrupt lawman who takes a recruit (Ethan Hawke) on a ride through the crime-ridden streets of Los Angeles. Denzel’s performance is sinister and intimidating, the perfect antagonist in the movie. His raw and menacing portrayal of Harris earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.

The Equalizer (2014)

In 2014, Washington returned after an 8-year break from action films to star in the revenge thriller The Equalizer. Washington plays McCall, a retired CIA agent determined to put a stop to the Russian mafia. The movie follows McCall on his mission of justice and delivers some over-the-top but highly entertaining action scenes. Washington’s physicality and authoritative presence bring the movie to a level no other actor could reach.

When it comes to watching movies starring Denzel Washington, only the best will do. It’s a testament to the great actor that he is that some of the best movies in Hollywood are also some of his films. Whether playing an action hero, a historical figure, a lawyer, or a leader, Denzel’s presence and impact on the characters he portrays are unmistakable.

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