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What's Your Favorite Denzel Washington Film Or Performance?

by Cynthia Reid
December 28, 2011 3:59 PM
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Denzel Washington pic 44

We've had all kinds of smackdown debates and conversations here at S&A about films, directors, actors and actresses but one person that's virtually never come up in all those discussions is Denzel Washington and with good reason...he's the consummate actor.  You may or may not like a film he appears in but you can always count on him giving a riveting performance.

So, since he turns 57 today, I though it would be nice to find out what's your favorite role and/or film he's been in?

Often, films like A Soldier's Story, Malcolm X and Devil In A Blue Dress are usually on the top of everyone's list but what about Mississippi Masala or Cry Freedom?  Does anyone remember St. Elsewhere?

To start things off, I'd have to say Malcolm X and Training Day definitely top my list.  I completely doubted his ability to play Malcolm.  In fact, I had to be steamrolled into seeing the flick but was utterly shocked by his performance.  Training Day is a favorite not only for his performance but his willingness to step outside his comfort zone and be the bad guy.

So what's on your list?  Below are clips of the man in action.

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  • anon | March 2, 2012 1:46 PMReply

    just like the other article i stick by my choices of glory and mo better blues. In mo' better blues it was the first time i'd seen a complex -multilayered sexy black man EVER portrayed on screen.

  • Samuel | January 8, 2012 5:21 PMReply

    With apologizes to Malcolm X, Mo' Better Blues and Devil in a Blue Dress, Courage Under Fire is one of my favorite Denzel Washington films. It shows how well he works with other actors and allow them to have moments. You see this with Don Cheadle in Devil in Blue Dress or his rivalry with Wesley Snipes in Mo' Better Blues. In Courage Under Fire, I don't want to say that he made any actor better, but everybody shines.

  • Kia | January 1, 2012 3:25 PMReply

    What he should have won the Oscar for... Malcolm X.

  • GailS | January 1, 2012 10:10 AMReply

    I'm tellin' ya. This is my favorite role of Denzel's, too. He nailed it—with the help of Walter Mosley, that is.

  • Mecca | December 30, 2011 12:18 PMReply

    This is a hard one.

    O.K I really enjoyed his performances in: John Q, Antoine Fisher, Philadelphia, Fallen, Training Day & The Hurricane. I can't pick one. I love them ALL!

  • Mecca | December 30, 2011 12:19 PM

    Also his performances in "Great Debators" & Glory was stellar.

  • Donella | December 29, 2011 11:05 PMReply

    I can't pick a favorite, but I love that man's walk.

  • Aaron | December 29, 2011 12:24 PMReply

    Devil In A Blue Dress

  • Nique | December 29, 2011 11:59 AMReply

    Mississippi Masala

  • SIMONE | December 29, 2011 6:22 AMReply

    He make me cry in Cry Freedom, this film is on of his best act. I love him because he can plays everything.

  • Venus | December 29, 2011 3:44 AMReply

    Well Denzel performance in John Q is better than most actors finest work.

  • B | December 29, 2011 2:34 AMReply

    In no particular order: Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X, Training Day, Antwan Fisher, A Soldier's Story. I hated American Gangster, but I liked Denzel's performance in it.

  • Akimbo | December 29, 2011 12:54 AMReply

    I can't really choose, but I'm heartened to see that no one picked that damned ridiculous John Q.

  • misha | December 29, 2011 12:31 AMReply

    For me, it's most definitely Malcolm X.

  • Josh | December 28, 2011 11:26 PMReply

    Glory. Also enjoyed Man on Fire.

  • CareyCarey | December 28, 2011 10:33 PMReply

    I can't do it! NO NO NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO... I rather die than pick one of Denzel's movies over another. But, to do this right and play along, I have to start from the back end. I mean, there is a couple of his movies that do not make my top 300. Okay... let me start with the ridiculous Hughes Brother's The Book of Eli. Yeah, Eli was coming and I should have stayed home. I mean, I can suspend reality with the best of them ( I'm a movie freak) but a blind man walking across America for 30 years (Yes, THIRTY FREAKIN YEARS)... fighting off the most ruthless vagabonds, killers and flesh eating cannibals, was a little too much for me. The man could even shoot down flying birds with a bow and arrow. Nawl, two thumps and ten toes way down. Now, my second stinker is John Q! COOOORNY with a capitol corn! And how exactly was every door, window, garage and fire escape covered and locked? But I suppose some people love sappy tear jerk movies. Anyway, let me cut to the chase and zip to the top. Wait, I have to do this by scenes. Man, that scene in Malcolm X when him and ol'boy were playing Russian Roulette gets me every time. And who can ever forget the series of scenes in Training Day when the rookie is chasing him through the hood. Damn, the scene culminates with him laying in the street bloodied and bruised but he's still talking big sh*t. Then, minutes later he's gunned down in the street. Yeeeah, that's some good sh*t. But damn, where do I start in A Soldier's Story? And, he was ugly super cool in Mo Better Blues. Yeah, I can pick out several scenes in several movies in which he puts that walk on like the world is his and everybody else just needs to get out of the damn way. That reminds me, although many folks didn't feel American Gangster, Denzel had some scenes in that joint that had me trembling like I had messed up his house or his dope, or as if I was driving the car when the cops pulled them over with that dope in the trunk. I mean, when he shot Edris in the head like it was a walk in the park, I said "DAMN... THIS MFer AIN'T PLAYIN'. So nope, I am not going to do it. I can't pick one, two, three or five Denzel movies as my top of all time. Heck, I didn't even mention Philadelphia, Glory and Hurricane, and yawl knows there's some goodies up in them flicks. But wait, on a side note, I might put Will Smith's Portrayal of Ali ahead of Denzel Hurricane? See, I'm a huge boxing fan and Denzel's body and movements didn't capture the image of a true fighter - for me. But Will killed it.

  • CareyCarey | December 29, 2011 6:36 PM

    @ BONDGIRL, agreed back atcha. Although many give little credence to Oscar wins, I am not one of them. And, although some of his movies would not make my favorites list, his performance in each of them always leaves me satisfied. I can't say that about many actors. On a side note, how do you come up with those lines? I loved the "birth" a child and "siblings" analogy. You, my lady, gots to be a seasoned writer who gets paid for doing what you do best?!

  • bondgirl | December 29, 2011 7:51 AM

    Agreed Carey. With each of his performances, he "births" a child and I could not choose a favorite among the "siblings". We're talking about a 2-time Oscar winner here.

  • CareyCarey | December 29, 2011 7:21 AM

    *LOL* with MICAH, yeah man, we do make strange bed fellows... Something like Fred Sanford and The Fresh Prince. But be careful, there's this thang called "Guilt by Association". Now check game, don't jump out of my hoopty while the car is still rolling and let me turn a few corners while I explain my position on ALI. Only a zip fool would champion Will Smith's "acting" over Denzel's - okay... and although I've been a fool many many times, I'm not a fool time fool. So, in reference to the movies in question, I am only talking about the boxing scenes. Will Smith had the body, the jab, the footwork and the whole persona of Ali in the ring. On the other hand, Denzel's body and movements looked like a older dude who was sparring with his buddies in Grant Park (Chicago). I mean, he was playing a young Hurricane - in early scenes - yet he looked old-er and slow. So Micah, have another drink and stay in the car and don't make any surprise moves because the police are right behind us with their lights on. And oh yeah, I have to admit that you did surprise me with your snappy and witty comment. I'll have to keep my eyes on you :-)

  • Micah | December 29, 2011 1:21 AM

    Oh and admit you loved the vernacular I used in the last comment. Admit it!

  • Micah | December 29, 2011 1:19 AM

    @Careycarey: It's a rare and pleasant surprise to find myself driving along, turn to the side and find you riding shotgun. Although I guess I'm riding shotgun this time. When you say you can't choose one of his roles because he has so many good ones the southern saying "You ain't never lied", springs to mind. I thought we were going to make it all the way to the promise land until you made the "ALI" comment. At that point I had to exit the vehicle and catch the the next plane back to sanity-land. Don't get me wrong I still love but I have to keep throwing you a serious side-eye until I watch these movies again back to back.

  • Richard313 | December 28, 2011 9:51 PMReply

    Mo' Better Blues. Underrated film, underrated performance.

  • B | December 29, 2011 2:38 AM


  • Micah | December 29, 2011 12:59 AM

    Richard you speak the truth.

  • HarveyDent322 | December 28, 2011 9:20 PMReply

    3. Training Day--a guilty pleasure

    2. The Hurricane--truly elevated the material

    1. Malcolm X--wanna see my cry just play that scene with Sam Cooke singing over the top

  • Pam G. | December 28, 2011 8:43 PMReply

    "Book of Eli" because he never flinched; "Fallen" because he never gave up; Malcolm X because he stirred my sleeping activist and "Bone Collector" because it takes skills to deliver a whole movie from a hospital bed.

  • Jmac | December 28, 2011 8:15 PMReply

    Philadelphia and Malcolm X

  • Zeus | December 28, 2011 8:04 PMReply

    Carbon Copy. Ok, just kidding. Hast to be Malcolm X and Glory.

  • James Madsion | December 28, 2011 7:49 PMReply

    Glory and Philadelphia.

  • Nicole | December 28, 2011 7:38 PMReply

    It was hard for me to choose but I think Malcolm X is my favorite. Followed closely by Glory. His resemblance to Malcolm during certain parts of the movie was uncanny. And in Glory, I kinda liked him being "difficult" first. I wish he had played more "dark", troubled characters.

  • Nicole | December 28, 2011 7:11 PMReply

    I'll give you my answer when I stop drooling over his picture. Sheesh.

  • misha | December 29, 2011 12:29 AM

    LOL You said it, Nicole!

  • Rajua | December 28, 2011 7:07 PMReply

    The Hurricane, hands down. That film brings me to tears every time I see it.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | December 28, 2011 6:47 PMReply

    Strangely, I think his performance in "He Got Game" was his most important (for the black community) in addressing how a black father's absence -- or over-abundance of presence -- can affect a black boy's life.

  • ROGER | December 28, 2011 5:17 PMReply

    Malcolm X. His performance is a piece of art. His performance in Philadelphia is very underrated, brillant.

  • Nadine | December 28, 2011 4:59 PMReply

    "Malcolm X" and "A Soldier's Story"

  • darkan | December 28, 2011 4:38 PMReply

    Training Day, hands down. The control, the artistry, the mastery and last but not least, the subtleties.

  • jk105 | December 28, 2011 4:35 PMReply

    Definitely Malcolm X, for which he should have won the Oscar. Training Day, for which he won the Oscar, was fun but not in the same league as Malcolm. My absolute favorite performance, one that few people talk about, is He Got Game. That was devastating!

  • Bryan | December 28, 2011 4:27 PMReply

    Malcolm X and John Q. I honestly did not like his role in Training Day at all.

  • Neziah | December 28, 2011 4:03 PMReply

    Malcolm X for both, followed by He Got Game.

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