Culture / Film

The best Denzel Washington Movies of all time

Denzel Washington: A man whose body of work is only superseded by his limitless talent. The leading man has graced just about every cornerstone of film. His performances in cinema span over four decades in Hollywood. He's certainly accredited for the job: the man has received honours from two Academy awards, Tony awards, and two Golden Globes, to rattle off a few.

There are countless additions to the Denzel Washington world of cinema, but selecting the best of the bunch is increasingly difficult. Luckily, we're here to point you in the right direction. Below, we take you through the Washington Hall of Fame, and the well-earned gems that make up his filmography. Here are 12 of the best Denzel Washington movies of all time.


Malcolm X (1992)

Denzel Washington as Malcolm X - an inimitable combination of storytelling for one of the greatest revolutionaries in America. Spike Lee's filmography found its pulse with Malcolm X, and yes, we still believe Washington should have clinched that academy award. 


Mississipi Masala (1992)

A stunning visual journey that charts an unlikely love story, Mississippi Masala has ensnared the hearts of millions since the early noughties. It's a long way from India to Mississippi, but the film delivers on a universal theme: no matter the colour of your skin, everyone is deserving of love and equality.


American Gangster (2007)

The loudest man in the room is the weakest, or so the saying goes. Following the death of mentor Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas (yes, Washington) establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan.  Cutting to the source in South East Asia, and he comes up with a ubiquitous way of importing the drugs into the United States.


The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Murder, wrath, and perfect plotting coincide in Joel Coen's mastering of this timeless tale. Shot entirely in black and white, spell-bounding visuals accompany our Lord Macbeth - with Frances McDormand taking the titular role of Lady M. We cannot look away.


Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

Easy Rawlins is caught in the webs of a noir mystery. This is not your average noir thriller: and Washington is superb at keeping apace of the film's jittery, electrifying happenings.


He Got Game (1998)

Another fruitful marriage between creator-director Spike Lee and leading effigy Denzel Washington. In this film, a  basketball player's father must appeal to his son's desire to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence. Lee's bold, signature visuals clash with basketball - as both overseer and allegory on-screen.


Fences (2016)

Directed and starring Denzel. Double-billed with a tear-stricken performance from Viola Davis. Adapted from the award-winning screenplay by August Wilson, the film production of Fences is as masterful as they come.

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Washington has proven time and time again that he has no qualms about tackling a role as meaty as a Shakespearean one. While this one might be more gut-punch funny than tragedy, Branagh's rendition of the Shakespearean farce is beloved for many reasons. One of them? The entire cast is as dashing as they are comedically talented.

Training Day (2001)

It's officially training day. And Washington is the quintessential, leather-jacketed mega-villain who evades any of the police who are hot on his tails. Ethan Slater isn't far behind: his performance as his protégé is equally inspiring and chilling in measure.


Cry Freedom (1987)

South Africa is apartheid-torn. Enter Washington in the role as activist Stephen Biko who is looking to radicalise and change the nation like never before. A dedicated and inspired portrayal from Washington and Attenborough's directorial prowess make this a powerful watch.


The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

"Believe me. Help me. Don't shoot me." Washington and Streep. It might be one of the greatest convergences to ever grace a docu-movie. At least, that's what we think.


Out of Time (2003)

A movie so fittingly apt within the Grand Theft Auto multiverse, Out of Time is sweltering for all the right reasons. Some may deride it for what it looks like: soapy action, when there's more at stake. Namely, Eva Mendes as a disenchanted divorcee. It's fun, stylish, and one of the lighter selections from Washington's roster, but be warned: there's still a double homicide to solve.


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