top 5 denzel washington movies
Top 5 Tuesday

The Top 5 Denzel Washington Movies of the 2000s–Top 5 Tuesday

King Kong ain’t got [nothin’] on [him]!

On December 28, 1954 a legend was born, for that was the day that Denzel Washington decided to grace this planet with his presence. Skip ahead many decades and he has had–what can only be described as–a storied career. This edition of Top Five Tuesday is a way to honour my favourite living actor. In doing so I have limited it to the past two decades because attempting to represent his entire career with five movies would have done him a disservice.

As always, this isn’t necessarily a list of his best performances, it’s a list of the best movies that he has starred in. A flick could have been chosen due to how great Washington was in it, or it could have been chosen because it’s a fantastic movie in its own right–or a mixture of both.

Before I begin, I just want to say that one of the most treasured features of his acting is that Denzel face. No, I’m not talking about it being symmetrical (but it is); I’m talking about that moment in his films where things get extra heavy and his face turns to stone. I live for the Denzel Washington serious face, which sounds a little pathetic now that I wrote it down.

Yeah, technically it’s December 29 but I had to wait for it to become Tuesday so I could do this. So let’s do this.

5: John Q

Source: Movieclips Classic Trailers

What would you do if your child was in desperate need of healthcare? Would you take over a hospital and become a sort of folk hero in the process as people shift from being actively against you to supportive? That’s what Denzel did in John Q.

This is just an emotional thrill ride, ultimately. Of course Washington is great in it because he has to carry the film, but what’s strongest about it is how it keeps you on the edge of the seat. There’s a debate to be had about John Q. Archibald’s methods but it’s undeniable that Nick Cassavetes made us cheer for the man. Denzel was a huge part of that.

4: Fences

Source: Paramount Pictures

Washington directed, produced and starred in this adaptation of a play that he was also involved in. Due to the minimalist setting, Fences is heavily dependent on the performances. It succeeds admirably and I’m willing to state that while there is a performance that I enjoy more than this one in the 2000s, this could arguably be his best.

Outside of that, the rest of the flick is just a gem. Everybody is so invested in these characters that it was simple to become invested myself. It’s raw filmmaking, filled to the brim with passion and talent.

3: The Book of Eli

Source: Movieclips Classic Trailers

Could this be the most controversial pick of this list? I believe so. But I stand by it because The Book of Eli is an underrated post-apocalyptic flick with a lot of brains behind it. More space is required to give a proper defense of it but here’s a brief attempt.

One criticism I saw was that it’s dumb that people care so much about the Bible. That’s always seemed a little off to me because people do literally die for holy texts. Love it or hate it, the Bible was critical in constructing the foundation of North American society–so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that even in a situation like this people would want it. It’s a powerful work of literature, even today.

The second problem I saw mentioned was when he risked his life to go into the city to charge his mp3 player. I don’t know about you, but if I have nothing else I’m risking my life for some music.

The Book of Eli has a great script, inspired action and fantastic imagery. It blends the Western with post-apocalyptic musings. I have a particular propensity for intelligent action movies and this qualifies as such.

2: Man on Fire

Source: 20th Century Studios

In pondering what I would say about Man on Fire, the stylish Tony Scott film about a bodyguard seeking redemption and revenge, I didn’t know the most ideal way to profess my love. Then it dawned on me, and I will leave it at this: this was one of my go-to movies that I revisited quite often. I don’t often re-watch films so there’s not a better way to praise it than that. Getting tired of this flick is not a thought that has ever crossed my mind.

1: Training Day

Source: Warner Bros.

I quote this film an embarrassing amount, especially for a straight-laced Canadian boy who doesn’t have any significant experiences with corrupt cops. Uh, I mean, I’m a gangster through and through… can’t you tell by this website?

In all seriousness, Training Day is my jam. Not only is it the best Denzel Washington movie, it also ranks among my personal favourites of all-time. Let me count the ways:

  • Washington’s Oscar-worthy performance, which he deserved wholeheartedly.
  • It’s endlessly quotable, as I mentioned above.
  • Dr. Dre.
  • Snoop Dogg in a wheelchair.
  • Ethan Hawke as an innocent police officer who just wants to do the right thing.
  • The King Kong speech. The only king’s speech that matters. See what I did there?
  • The soundtrack.
  • Related to that: “You’re in the office, baby.”
  • Excellent directing; great visual sense.
  • A compelling story with some great twists and turns.
  • “I’m surgical with this bitch, Jake.”
  • “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”
  • “This is a newspaper. It’s 90% bullshit, but it’s entertaining. That’s why I read it…because it entertains me. You won’t let me read it, so you entertain me with your bullshit.”
  • Crap, I’m just quoting it again, aren’t I?

Well, we had a lot of fun today didn’t we? I try to keep the articles family friendly but that’s not possible when you’re quoting Alonzo Harris. What are your favourite Denzel Washington movies of the 2000s? Let me know in the comments below, but if you say Unstoppable we may come to blows. Thank you for reading and come back soon, y’hear?

We don’t always agree but me and the best bunny critic in the business agree on Denzel Washington, but his favourite Denzel movie is Inside Man.

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