Top Denzel Washington Movies
One of the best actors of our time, Denzel Washington is appreciated by critics, liked by the Academy of Motion Picture (two Oscars), and loved by people. Let me give you an example of what I mean when I say loved by people, since 2000 Denzel has opened 15 movies, 12 of those debuted above $20 million and while he might not have the hits of a Will Smith, he certainly more than makes up in consistency. There were no sequels and almost every single time he received top billing. So when I say he opened them, I mean it.
He’s in Safe House right now and as you already know, it’s proving to be a big hit, and could become his most successful to date. But without further ado I give you the top Denzel Washington movies based on his domestic box office hits, unadjusted for inflation.
10. Training Day (2001) $76.6 million – This earned Denzel Washington his second Oscar, a well deserved award for one of the best performances of his career. Also the movie is great, don’t miss it.
9. Philadelphia (1993) $77.4 million – Here Denzel Washington plays a lawyer, the only one willing to help an AIDS infected Tom Hanks fired by his conservative law firm because of his condition. It doesn’t help that he’s also kind of homophobic. Either way, this makes for one of 1993’s best films and apparently quite a hit at the box office considering the subject matter.
8. Man on Fire (2004) $77.9 million – This is Denzel in full on action mode, going after the people that hurt the family he was hired to protect, and by hurt I mean they killed someone in that family. Won’t go into detail since I don’t want to spoil anything but suffice to say, this is one movie you want to see, one of my personal favorites on this list.
7. Unstoppable (2010) $81.5 million – Like the movie above, this is directed by Tony Scott (Top Gun), often a collaborator of Denzel Washington. A very cool fun movie, similar to the original Speed but with a train instead, check it out.
6. Inside Man (2006) $88.5 million – A kick-ass bank heist flick directed by Spike Lee. Very much a film about appearances, masterfully written, shot and edited. While I get that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I can’t not recommend this.
5. Crimson Tide (1995) $91.4 million – Another Tony Scott flick, this is one of those cult classics that probably anyone older than 20 with an interest in movies has seen. It also features a great soundtrack by Hans Zimmer that helps build unbelievable atmosphere during the underwater scenes (which is most of the film actually). As far as submarine movies go, this is one of the best, for me at least.
4. The Book of Eli (2010) $94.8 million – If you also happen to be a gamer as well as a movie buff, when they first showed a trailer for this, you could have been fooled into thinking this was a movie based on the Fallout video game series. And it actually does have a lot in common with the venerable RPG series but leaving that aside, The Book of Eli is a good movie that could have been great. Sadly, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. Regardless, Denzel Washington is fantastic here, as usual.
3. The Pelican Brief (1993) $100.7 million – Starring Julia Roberts alongside Denzel Washington, this is a fun romantic-mystery-thriller. While Denzel is more than capable himself here, I have to attribute most of the success of this flick to Julia Roberts, fresh off a string of hits starting with Steel Magnolias in 1989.
2. Remember the Titans (2000) $115.6 million – A good sports drama and at the time, the most successful American Football film. I think I’ve seen this a good three times so far and while I’m not a fan of the sport, I always enjoy it. So take that into consideration if you are thinking about watching it.
1. American Gangster (2007) $130.1 million – And here we are at the highest grossing movie in Denzel Washington’s career. Directed by Ridley Scott and also starring Russell Crowe, American Gangster follows the rise and fall of Frank Lucas, a heroin dealer and organized crime boss who operated in Harlem during the 60’s and 70’s. Needless to say, this is a must see.
Finally I’m supposed to mention here a few other great Denzel Washington flicks that didn’t make this top 10. Unfortunately with him there are so many, it’s hard to choose one or two so I’ll pick a bunch instead. Here they go in no particular order: Glory (first Oscar for him), Malcom X, Devil in Blue Dress, The Great Debaters, The Hurricane, John Q (I liked it), Out of Time, Courage Under Fire, Much Ado About Nothing, and others since I most certainly forgot some.
So what is your top Denzel Washington movie?