Top 10 Best Denzel Washington Movies

Monday, 18/12/2023 | 06:04 UTC-5

Denzel Washington is the name at the top of the list of 25 greatest actors of the 21st century voted by The New York Times to honor artists who have made outstanding contributions to cinema in the past 20 years.

Top 10 Best Denzel Washington Movies

Denzel Washington is an acclaimed actor known for his powerful performances across various genres.

What is considered to be Denzel Washington's best movie?

  1. Training Day (2001): Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Detective Alonzo Harris, a corrupt cop, in this crime thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua.

    "Training Day" is a crime thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and released in 2001. The movie is known for its intense performances, gritty portrayal of urban life, and a storyline that explores corruption within law enforcement. Here's an introduction to "Training Day":

    Plot: The film follows a single day in the life of Jake Hoyt (played by Ethan Hawke), a young and idealistic LAPD officer. Hoyt is assigned to spend a day with Detective Alonzo Harris (played by Denzel Washington), a seasoned and seemingly charismatic narcotics officer. However, as the day progresses, Hoyt discovers that Alonzo's methods are far from conventional, involving questionable ethics and a willingness to bend or break the law.


    • Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): The protagonist, a rookie cop with a strong sense of duty and morality.
    • Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington): A corrupt and charismatic detective who takes Hoyt under his wing for a day of training.


    • Corruption and Morality: The film explores the ethical dilemmas faced by law enforcement officers, particularly when dealing with corruption within their ranks.
    • Power Dynamics: The power dynamic between a seasoned officer and a rookie is a central theme, as Alonzo exerts influence over Hoyt throughout the day.
    • Urban Decay: The movie presents a gritty and realistic portrayal of the dangerous and often corrupt environment of urban Los Angeles.

    Director and Cast:

    • Director: Antoine Fuqua
    • Starring: Denzel Washington (won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role), Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Eva Mendes.


    Critical Reception: "Training Day" received positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for Denzel Washington's powerful performance. The film's intense atmosphere, gripping storyline, and exploration of moral ambiguity contributed to its critical acclaim.

    Awards: Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Detective Alonzo Harris. The film also earned nominations and accolades in various other awards ceremonies.

    "Training Day" is widely regarded as a compelling and thought-provoking crime thriller, and it remains notable for its impact on the careers of its lead actors, especially Denzel Washington's memorable portrayal of a morally complex character.

  2. Glory (1989): In this historical drama, Washington plays Private Trip, a runaway slave who becomes a soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Washington won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.

    "Glory" is a historical war drama film directed by Edward Zwick, released in 1989. The movie is notable for its depiction of the first all-African American regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Here's an introduction to "Glory":

    Plot: Set during the American Civil War, "Glory" tells the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first African American regiments in the Union Army. The film primarily follows the experiences of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick), a white officer, as he leads the 54th in various battles, including the famous assault on Fort Wagner.


    • Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick): The idealistic and initially inexperienced officer given the task of leading the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
    • Private Trip (Denzel Washington): A former slave and one of the soldiers in the 54th. His character undergoes significant development throughout the film.
    • Sergeant Major John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman): A wise and experienced soldier who becomes a key figure in the 54th.
    • Major Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes): A white officer and close friend of Colonel Shaw.


    • Racial Injustice: The film explores the racism and discrimination faced by African American soldiers, both in the military and in society at large.
    • Equality and Freedom: The soldiers of the 54th fight not only for the Union but also for the idea of freedom and equality for all, including African Americans.
    • Brotherhood: The camaraderie and brotherhood that develop among the soldiers of the 54th are central themes.

    Director and Cast:

    • Director: Edward Zwick
    • Starring: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, Andre Braugher, and Jihmi Kennedy. 


    Historical Accuracy: "Glory" is praised for its historical accuracy in depicting the struggles and contributions of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The film is based on real events and individuals, providing an important portrayal of the African American experience during the Civil War.

    Critical Reception: "Glory" received widespread critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling, exceptional performances, and its portrayal of a crucial chapter in American history. Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.

    Awards: In addition to Denzel Washington's Oscar win, "Glory" received several other accolades, including three Academy Awards in total. The film's soundtrack, composed by James Horner, also received recognition.

    "Glory" is regarded as a poignant and historically significant film that addresses themes of racism, courage, and the quest for equality during a pivotal period in American history.

  3. Malcolm X (1992): Directed by Spike Lee, this biographical epic features Washington in the title role of Malcolm X, the influential civil rights leader. The film explores Malcolm X's transformation and activism.

    "Malcolm X" is a biographical drama film directed by Spike Lee and released in 1992. The movie tells the life story of Malcolm X, a prominent civil rights activist and leader in the Nation of Islam. Here's an introduction to "Malcolm X":

    Plot: The film chronicles the life of Malcolm X, from his childhood in Michigan to his transformation into a charismatic and influential figure in the civil rights movement. It explores his early involvement in criminal activities, conversion to Islam during his incarceration, and his rise as a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad. The film also delves into Malcolm X's eventual split from the Nation of Islam and his evolving views on race and civil rights.


    • Malcolm X (Denzel Washington): The central figure of the film, Malcolm X undergoes a significant transformation from a troubled youth to a charismatic leader advocating for the rights of African Americans.
    • Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.): The leader of the Nation of Islam who plays a crucial role in Malcolm X's early activism.
    • Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett): Malcolm X's wife, who supports him throughout his journey and is portrayed as a strong and independent woman.


    • Civil Rights and Activism: The film explores Malcolm X's role as a civil rights activist, his advocacy for black empowerment, and his efforts to address racial inequality in the United States.
    • Identity and Transformation: Malcolm X's personal journey is central to the narrative, highlighting his evolution from a troubled youth to a leader with a powerful and evolving understanding of race and religion.
    • Nation of Islam: The film depicts Malcolm X's involvement with the Nation of Islam, including his close association with Elijah Muhammad and his eventual break from the organization.

    Director and Cast:

    • Director: Spike Lee
    • Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Al Freeman Jr., Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee (in a supporting role), and more. 


    Historical Significance: "Malcolm X" is based on "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" as told to Alex Haley. The film is known for its historical accuracy in portraying Malcolm X's life, though it takes some creative liberties for dramatic effect. It provides a comprehensive overview of the civil rights era, focusing on Malcolm X's contribution to the movement.

    Critical Reception: The film received critical acclaim for Denzel Washington's powerful performance, Spike Lee's direction, and its exploration of Malcolm X's life and legacy. Washington earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

    Legacy: "Malcolm X" is considered an important cinematic portrayal of one of the most influential figures in American history. It contributed to a renewed interest in Malcolm X's life and ideas, sparking discussions about civil rights, racial identity, and social justice.

    "Malcolm X" remains a significant and impactful biographical film that provides a nuanced and compelling portrait of a key figure in the civil rights movement.

  4. The Hurricane (1999): Denzel Washington stars as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly convicted of murder. The film follows his fight for justice and received critical acclaim for Washington's performance.

  5. Remember the Titans (2000): In this inspirational sports drama, Washington portrays Coach Herman Boone, who leads a high school football team in Virginia through racial integration. The film is based on a true story.

  6. Flight (2012): Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a skilled pilot with a troubled personal life, in this drama directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film explores themes of addiction and redemption.

  7. Man on Fire (2004): Directed by Tony Scott, this action thriller features Washington as John W. Creasy, a former CIA operative seeking redemption while protecting a young girl in Mexico.

  8. Philadelphia (1993): Washington stars alongside Tom Hanks in this legal drama that addresses AIDS discrimination. Washington's character, Joe Miller, is a homophobic lawyer who takes on a case defending Hanks' character.

  9. Inside Man (2006): In this heist thriller directed by Spike Lee, Washington plays Detective Keith Frazier, investigating a bank robbery orchestrated by a mastermind portrayed by Clive Owen.

  10. The Equalizer (2014): Washington stars as Robert McCall, a retired black-ops operative seeking justice for the vulnerable. The film showcases Washington's action-hero prowess.

These films represent just a portion of Denzel Washington's extensive filmography, demonstrating his ability to excel in a variety of roles, from intense dramas to action-packed thrillers.


What is Denzel Washington most remembered for?

Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1990s, including his portrayals of real-life figures such as South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom (1987), Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992), boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in The

What is Denzel's best performance?

Denzel Washington's best performances, ranked

  • 01 of 10. Man on Fire (2004) Jurgen Vollmer/20th Century Studios. ...
  • 02 of 10. American Gangster (2007) David Lee/Universal. ...
  • 03 of 10. He Got Game (1998) ...
  • 04 of 10. Flight (2012) ...
  • 05 of 10. Fences (2016) ...
  • 06 of 10. The Hurricane (1999) ...
  • 07 of 10. Glory (1989) ...
  • 08 of 10. Philadelphia (1993)

What movie did Denzel Washington get an Oscar?


Denzel's first Oscar was as the Best Supporting Actor in “Glory”, a Civil War flick about an all-Black infantry squadron led by a White officer. It was based on a true story. Denzel would eventually win another Oscar as Best Actor in “Training Days”. He's been nominated several times for other Oscars.

What was Denzel's first big movie?


Shortly after graduating from Fordham, Washington made his screen acting debut in the 1977 made-for-television film Wilma which was a docudrama about sprinter Wilma Rudolph, and made his first Hollywood appearance in the 1981 film Carbon Copy


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