10. Remember the Titans (2000)
While slightly overrated, “Remember the Titans” is a solid sports flick. Having Denzel Washington doesn’t hurt either. The man truly is one of the best actors in modern cinema. Will Patton is pretty great as well in a supporting role. The whole tone of the film is enjoyable, albeit sometimes preachy. With Denzel doing most of the preaching though, you kinda don’t care.
9. Crimson Tide (1995)
“Crimson Tide” has a ridiculously good cast, but all outstanding performances are overshadow by the sheer ferocity of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. The two screen heavyweights chew-up the screen at will, and their scenes together are masterful. Today, “Crimson Tide” gets overshadowed by many on this list, but the film can certainly hold its own with any submarine movie.
8. Cry Freedom (1987)
Washington stars alongside Kevin Kline as Steve Biko, an activist during South Africa’s apartheid. The film really shines a light on one of the most overlooked civil rights struggles in modern times. This is early Denzel, who was a bit more mercurial in his performances, but maybe even more fun to watch.
7. Flight (2012)
The story of a troubled, but brilliant airline pilot is the backdrop for Washington’s latest masterclass in acting. The film really is outstanding and is a bit overlooked. The ending is incredibly emotional and soul-defining.
6. Training Day (2001)
“Training Day” is a trippy and uber-intense ride through police hell. You’ll see corruption, a chemically-impaired Ethan Hawke, and Denzel giving an all-time great performance. Washington’s anti-hero is terrifying and charming at the same time, as things quickly spin out of control.
5. Malcolm X (1992)
Spike Lee’s masterful and controversial portrayal of the civil rights magnate is still an incredible watch. Washington is perfect in the title role, allowing the viewer to understand the fury and compassion behind Malcolm X. The film might be Lee’s best.
4. Courage Under Fire (1996)
Washington is a military investigator with some serious baggage in this one, as he attempts to uncover the truth about Meg Ryan and her heroism during Operation Desert Storm. The film is undeniably complex and is as much a study on morality, as it is a war film.
3. Glory (1989)
There are very, very few quality feature films about The Civil War, and “Glory” is without question the best of these. Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman both turn in excellent performances, but it is Washington who’s the breakout star. The film is emotional and thoughtful, propelling towards an amazing climax.
2. The Hurricane (1999)
“The Hurricane” is one of the most underrated movies in recent memory. Sure, it was critically-acclaimed when it came out, but it’s a timeless classic and should be treated accordingly. Denzel Washington plays Rubin Carter, who was a world class fighter framed for murder. Rubin’s journey is exceptionally enthralling and inspiring.
- Philadelphia (1993)
Before his Oscar-winning role in “Philadelphia,” Hanks was on his way to becoming “Mr. Rom-Com.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but one fateful break led to A+ roles for the next two decades. Hanks would have been financially and commercially successful either way, but as an actor, he has to be thankful. Washington has to be grateful as well, as the movie finally garnered him the praise he easily deserved.