The Essential Denzel Washington: 13 Must See Movies

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The marketing for The Equalizer is really driving home the fact that it’s the star and director of Training Day, together again, 13 years later. Yes, Denzel Washington won a Best Actor award for the film, but it’s not exactly grown in stature into some big cinematic achievement. The film is fine, a bit overblown, but it sure is fun to watch Washington — ever the stoic actor — blow his top.

Having said that, while putting together a list of 13 essential Denzel Washington films, Training Day definitely marks a shift in the actor’s career. Even just in images. Prior to Training Day most of the image searches for films we were considering generally have a gun pointed at him, whip slashes across his body or we see him standing up to authority with no weapons present, using his words. Training Day onward is different. Same image test, but the guns are in Washington’s hand. Washington has been not just the aggressor, but the enforcer, the agitator. The actor no longer is reacting to injustices, he’s now wreaking havoc. And he has the charisma to be rootable — even when he’s exploding assholes in Man on Fire.

Related: ‘Man on Fire’ — Ten Years Later

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Despite our desire to see the actor mix it up a bit more recently (like he did in Flight) there is something great about Washington’s current run of revenge flicks. He doesn’t have to be the moral messenger anymore. He killed the messenger. Now, Washington can just be a movie star. And what a star! Seriously, if you don’t know what’s so appealing about Denzel Washington, check out his interview with CraveOnline’s William Bibbiani.

Then sound off: let us know what we got wrong on our list of Washington essentials (we know, no one ever tells you when you get it right). We tried our best to highlight different types of performances and films. So if you’re only into the Washington-Tony Scott collaborative persona, we’ve got a few flicks you should see before Denzel opens up another can of whoop-ass (aisle 6) in The Equalizer.

Slideshow: The Essential Denzel Washington: 13 Must See Movies


Brian Formo is a featured contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @BrianEmilFormo.