Hollywood’s favorite actor, Denzel Washington, turned 61 today (Dec.28) and to celebrate his birthday, we decided to picked out our 10 favorite Denzel Washington films. The results of his work has earned him two Academy Awards and $3.8 billion worldwide in box office grosses. With more than 40 films under his belt, it was very hard narrowing down to 10 films, nonetheless, in no particular order, check out our top 10 below. Don’t forget to let us know if your faves made it on our list!
Man on Fire (2004)
In Mexico City, Washington played a former assassin named John Creasy who swears vengeance on those that kidnapped Pita, played by 10-year-old Dakota Fanning, a girl he was hired to protect. The bond between Creasy and Pita was what shaped the movie, and it was why Creasy did everything in his powers to get Pita back. In this movie, you saw a man who went from a total mess to sensitive soul all because of Pita. It’s very touching, but still will have you on edge. If you’re looking for someone to protect your child, Washington is the right man for the job.
Training Day (2001)
Washington, in this film played a 13-year veteran Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris. Harris is known as the “bad cop” and very much intimidates a police department rookie who was anxious to join the narcotics squad. They go on a 24-hour training course, and the rookie realizes that the rogue detective isn’t what he appears. Harris don’t go by the books, he’s such a badass, and make his own rules along the way — which is a combination of his own personal moral code of ethics and street justice. This was a pretty good film — a classic actually, and you got to see how a good cop, the rookie, and a bad cop, Harris (mentor), work alongside each other. It’s a very intense movie, will have you on your toes for sure.
The Great Debaters (2007)
A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, Washington plays inspirational professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. Keep in mind, this was a period of time where racial tensions were at its peak. So in this film, the young debaters faced many obstacles due to segregation and racism.
This is a biographical film about Malcolm X, who was played by Washington, touching on X’s early life, his career as a small-time gangster to his apex of being a minister of the Nation of Islam.
Remember the Titans (2000)
This is another film based on a true story, Washington plays Herman Bone, a tough coach who was hired to integrate a high school football team on their first season in 1971. Some say that this film is a little too “predictable”, but still it’s always a pleasure seeing Washington work his magic.
Mo’ Better Blues (1990)
This film is a Spike Lee production on music and love. Washington plays a talented trumpeter, Bleek Gilliam, who makes questionable decisions regarding his music and his romantic life. Things started to go left for Bleek, having to aid his manager and childhood friend (Spike Lee), which in the end, left Bleek fragile more than ever.
The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, played by Washington, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for a triple homicide in 1967 and spent 20 years behind bars. Luckily, there were people who stayed by his side in his fight to prove his innocence.
He Got Game (1998)
Jake Shuttleworth played by Washington, has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent domestic dispute, leaving his son, Jesus Shuttleworth “to fend for himself.” One day, the prison warden approaches Jake with an offer: He must try to convince his son, Jesus, to go to college, and if he succeeds, Jake in return, will get a shorter sentence.
American Gangster (2007)
This biopic took place during the 1970s in Harlem, telling a harrowing story about a heroin kingpin named Frank Lucas who was later taken down by a gung ho, but honest detective. Lucas, played by Washington, was extremely smooth smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.
John Q. (2002)
Washington, who played John Quincy Archibald, takes a hospital emergency room hostage when he realize that his insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant and that alternative government aid is unavailable. Washington did this as a last attempt to save his nine-year-old son.