Denzel Washington’s best films demonstrate an absolutely indisputable reality: that he is one of Hollywood’s essential stars of the last thirty years. There is nothing.

The actor, director and producer is a widely admired figure in the American film industry, whether as an action hero or as a renowned, award-winning director. Washington has been able to maintain himself for decades thanks to his charisma and his presence as the leading man, action hero and leader of any story that came his way.
His first appearance was in 1977 with ‘Wilma’, and in 1981 he got his first leading role in ‘Call me Mr. Charly’. Later, more roles were arriving until in the 90s he was one of the most recognized faces in Hollywood. From that decade are ‘Philadelphia’, ‘The Pelican Brief’, ‘Malcolm X’, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ or ‘The Bone Collector’.

Without further ado, let’s go with the titles: What is your favorite Denzel Washington movie? And do you agree with the order of this list?

18. A Soldier’s Story (Norman Jewison, 1984)

Denzel Washington began to make his way on the big screen in this story set in the 40s, directed by Norman Jewison and based on the work of Charles Fuller (which he himself adapted for the screen). From very early in his career, the actor opted for stories and roles with a lot of political charge and denunciation of racism in the United States.

17. Fences (Denzel Washington, 2016)

Film adaptation of the play written by August Wilson in 1983, winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and also awarded the Pulitzer Prize. It was also the third film as director of Denzel Washington, and the one that took him to the Oscars ceremony in style. Although the one who took the flowers was Viola Davis, winner of the Oscar for Best Actress.

16. The Equalizer(Antoine Fuqua, 2014)

There’s something very satisfying about watching Denzel Washington slap (the kind that hurt) with his friend Antoine Fuqua behind the scenes. The director of ‘Training Day’ gives the actor this action film with ChloĆ« Grace Moretz. The critics weren’t very impressed with the final result, but it seems that the public was, since a few years after the sequel, ‘The Equalizer 2’, was released.

15. Antwone Fisher (Denzel Washington, 2002)

This film marked the directorial debut of Denzel Washington, who up until then had triumphed as an actor (including two Oscars). His first foray was this drama based on true events that won over the critics. We warn you: it is one of those movies that will make you cry.

14. Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh, 1993)

Adaptation of William Shakespeare’s story by Kenneth Branagh, with an ensemble cast full of established or future stars (Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Keaton, Imelda Staunton…) in which Denzel Washington played Prince Don Pedro from Aragon, recently arrived in his Sicilian countryside after a victorious battle.

13.The Red Sea (Tony Scott, 1995)

Story under the sea, which was the first of Denzel Washington’s five films, would be shot under the orders of the now-deceased Tony Scott. The result was an intense, exciting and claustrophobic thriller that makes the most of all its possibilities.

12. The Flight (Robert Zemeckis, 2012)

After his animated adventures in the first decade of the 2000s, the successful Robert Zemeckis returned to live action alongside Denzel Washington with this film, with which he demonstrated his mastery of visual storytelling. And Washington? Solid, as always, in the role of a pilot in an extreme situation. For many, one of the best Robert Zemeckis films.

11. Call out liberty (Richard Attenborough, 1987)

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the drama category, this Richard Attenborough film earned Denzel Washington his first Oscar nomination. And it would be the first of many. The story is inspiring and with a big heart, which clearly helped connect with the public and start to make the actor a star. Perfect to watch alongside the best movies about racism and oppression.

10. The Great Debaters (Denzel Washington, 2007)

This was the second film with Denzel Washington in the director’s chair, and, at the same time, confirmation that his directorial ambitions were more than serious. With a true story at the center of the film, the actor also starred in the film with Forest Whitaker.

9. Hurricane Carter (Norman Jewison, 1999)

Biopic about a successful boxer who saw his life and career ruined by a false accusation tinged with racism. It earned Denzel Washington his fourth Oscar nomination, although he didn’t get it. The film can be considered one of the best biopics in cinema, despite its more conventional forms, and it was certainly important in spreading the story of Hurricane Carter.

8. Hidden plan (Spike Lee, 2006)

This fourth collaboration between Denzel Washington and Spike Lee gave us one of the most celebrated ‘heist movies’ of our century. A thriller that is a roller coaster of action and revelations, with some magnificent Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the cast. It is also one of Willem Dafoe’s best films.

7. Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993)

Celebrated judicial melodrama directed by Jonathan Demme after ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, and in which he sheds light on the situation of AIDS, discrimination and homophobia in the early 90’s in the United States. Denzel Washington is terrific, but it’s also one of Tom Hanks’ best movies, and the one for which he won his first Oscar.

6.Malcolm X (Spike Lee, 1992)

Biopic about Malcolm Little, influential and charismatic leader of the liberation movement of the North American black community in the mid-20th century. Thanks to this acclaimed film by Spike Lee, Denzel Washington once again walked the red carpets of the most outstanding awards of the season, although this time he missed the Oscar. Still, he can be proud to have starred in one of Spike Lee’s best movies.

5.The Fire of Vengeance (Tony Scott, 2004)

Version of ‘Armored Bullet’ (Man on Fire), a French film directed by Elie Chouraqui in 1987, and turned into a new interpretive recital for Denzel Washington. It is also one of Christopher Walken’s best films. Critics pointed out that the film was too concerned with making the leading man the center of everything, but that only made Washington’s talents better showcase.

4.Training Day (Antoine Fuqua, 2001)

Legendary film both for Denzel Washington and for the filmography of Ethan Hawke, his co-star. Both make their way as cops with very different motivations through the streets of Los Angeles, which Antoine Fuqua shows as little less than hell on Earth. Thanks to this film, Washington won his second Oscar, for the first time for Best Leading Actor.

3. Glory Times (Edward Zwick, 1989)

Denzel Washington’s first Oscar came with this war drama directed by Edward Zwick, centering on the first African-American battalion to fight in the American Civil War. The actor shone as a supporting actor and swept the season awards, with much merit. In the cast he was accompanied by Cary Elwes and Matthew Broderick. For many, one of the best war movies ever.

2. Titans, they made history (Boaz Yakin, 2000)

This drama set in the 70s and based on true events connected incredibly well with the American public. And it is that Denzel Washington dominated the screen embodying a coach determined to unite a team divided by racial tensions. Thus, Boaz Yakin’s film has spaces to pose not only an exciting sports story, but also a social portrait.

1. American Gangster (Ridley Scott, 2007)

This, which is also one of Ridley Scott’s best films, has landed by the hairs at the top of the ranking according to user votes on IMDb. And we understand why: Denzel Washington is impressive in his role as a chauffeur willing to climb to the top of the pyramid. He earned another Golden Globe nomination for this performance and it is still one of his most remembered films.