FiveFlix | Denzel Washington

12 01 2010

With the release of his post-apocolyptic thriller hitting theaters later this week, we decided to feature several of Denzel Washington’s favorite films from his nearly thirty-year career.

Since his film debut in as the black son of a white dad in “Carbon Copy,” Washington has cut an impressive figure while crafting an impressive career first as an actor and later as a director. Winning numerous awards including two Oscars, four Black Reel Awards and a host of other impressive awards in the past three decades. Named as People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, Washington still possesses the “sexy strut” that still drives his female fans crazy.

A frequent collaborator with director Spike Lee, the two have made four films together and currently are working on their fifth feature, the sequel to “The Inside Man.” Washington has won both a Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards for “Training Day” (2001) and “Glory” (1989). In 2002, he made his directorial debut with the inspirational military story, “Antwone Fisher” winning his first and only Black Reel Award for Best Director.

His dedication to his craft and professionalism is legendary. Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks reportedly once remarked that “working with Washington on “Philadelphia” was like “going to film school” and he learned more about acting by watching Denzel than from anyone else.” This week Washington lends his star power to futuristic thriller, “The Book of Eli,” but to quote his co-star Lisa Nicole Carson from “The Devil In the Blue Dress,” he has continued to keep “hitting the spot” of his fans for close to three decades . . . and still going!

Devil in the Blue Dress | 1995
One of Washington’s biggest regrets was turning down the role of Detective David Mills in the thriller, “Se7en,” which went to Brad Pitt. Instead Washington opted for this period drama instead, which is why it made the list as our selection. In this noir, that takes place in 1948 Los Angeles, he played Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins is a World War II veteran who has been unfairly laid off at the inner tube factory. He becomes a private eye to make ends meet and pay for his mortgage. Trouble is he’s never done work as sleuth. Fifteen years later, the film is known more for being the film that launched the career of Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle who stole every scene he was in as Mouse.

Cry Freedom | 1987
One of Washington’s favorite performances came in this film as the charismatic South African Black Consciousness Movement leader, Steven Biko who stood up against the racist aparthied regime. While appearing in half of the film before his character is killed in police custody, Washington received his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor after director Sir Richard Attenborough saw him in an episode of “St. Elsewhere.”

Glory | 1989
As defiant and rebellious former slave, Trip, Washington created an one of Hollywood’s most memorable characters punctuated with the absolutely stunning one-eye tear scene after taking an embarrassing whipping. For his role in this inspirational classic story based on the true story of the Massachussetts Fighting 54th, Washington took home his first Oscar for Best Supporting Performance and ended his first decade as film actor with his career on the rise.

Training Day | 2001
Twenty years after his film debut and after a host of dignified characters, Washington stunned his fans with a scene-stealing performance as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in the role that won him a Best Actor Oscar. Acknowledged by Washington as his personal favorite, this movie is unique in Academy Awards history, in that it’s the only time an African-American, won the Best Actor Oscar in a film directed by a fellow African-American, Antoine Fuqua.

Malcolm X | 1992
The performance widely acknowledged by Washington’s fans and critics as his signature performance. After playing the civil rights activist earlier in his career in the Off Broadway play, “When the Chickens Come Home to Roost”, Washington who noted that he did not know much about the character, or read his autobiography, when he took the role, dominated the screen in Spike Lee’s biopic.  Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm X was widely praised and he was nominated for Academy Award for Best Actor and while everyone thought he should have won, Washington lost to Al Pacino.  Lee criticized the decision saying, “I’m not the only one who thinks Denzel was robbed on that one.” That makes two of us, Spike!




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