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The 10 best Denzel Washington movies

From Flight to Malcolm X, we've raked through all of the legendary actor's vast filmography to bring you this list of the best Denzel Washington movies.

best Denzel Washington movies: Flight

What are the best Denzel Washington movies? Washington is one of the most accomplished household names in Hollywood, with a film career spanning decades.

It’s hard to know where to start, considering he’d appear in many a film fan’s best actors of all time lists and has generally been thought to have starred in some of the best movies of all time, but we’ve combed through his work to bring you a list of the crème de la crème.

When it comes to the best Denzel Washington movies, we’ve got you covered with his finest action movies and the ilk.

The best Denzel Washington movies:

  • Unstoppable
  • Out of Time
  • The Taking of Pelham 123
  • Glory
  • Flight
  • Crimson Tide
  • The Equalizer
  • Fences
  • Training Day
  • Malcolm X

Best Denzel Washington movies: Chris Pine and Denzel Washington in Unstoppable

10. Unstoppable (2010)

The final collaboration between Denzel Washington and director Tony Scott, this thriller movie pairs Washington with Star Trek‘s Chris Pine.

Washington stars as an experienced train engineer who aids Pine’s rookie in stopping a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals. Tense and exciting, Unstoppable follows the classic ‘rookie paired with vet’ formula.

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9. Out of Time (2003)

This modern noir follows a Floridian sheriff whose affair with a married woman comes back to bite him.

This is one of those thrillers where things begin to pile up, and before he knows it, our leading man is knee-deep in salacious drama and problems. Washington is by far the best part of this movie.

Best Denzel Washingston movies: Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 123

8. The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

One of those movies that sit on your dad’s DVD shelf. Never touched, but God forbid you suggest getting rid of it. And he has a point — this second train movie in Denzel’s filmography (what’s up with that?) is an action-packed race against the clock.

In the crime movie remake, Washington plays a working man who gets wrapped up in a hostage crisis. It’s like Die Hard, but without the repertoire of a cop.

Best Denzel Washington movies: Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington in Glory

7. Glory (1989)

Washington won his first of a few Oscars for his performance in this Civil War epic.

Starring as the supporting character Private Trip, Washington showcased his hair-raising range in the war movie, and did it alongside Morgan Freeman of all people.

Best Denzel Washington movies: Denzel Washington in Flight

6. Flight (2012)

Perhaps the movie he’s most universally recognised for, Flight follows the pilot Whip Whitaker, whose battle with addiction is revealed after he has to intervene to stop a plane crash.

The airplane movie has subtle suspense in excess, and you’ll forgive the occasional slow place because Washington is just that good in his restrained performance.

Best Denzel Washington movies: Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide

5. Crimson Tide (1995)

Washington is no stranger to playing a lawman, and in Crimson Tide does so again.

The first of his drama movies with Tony Scott, this is often said to be the best of the bunch. The story sets Gene Hackman‘s submarine captain against his second in command, Washington. The movie’s mostly one-location setting gives it a claustrophobic feel that adds to the mental sparring between the two.

It’s a confident and cool outing that has total confidence in its steely performances to carry it.

Best Denzel Washington movies: Denzel Washington in The Equalizer

4. The Equalizer (2014)

Perhaps one the most popular Washington movies, we’re knee deep into this universe with The Equalizer 3 most recently.

These action movies see Denzel dial intensity and rage up to 11, and prove he’s more than just a drama man. He can beat up bad guys, too. Washington stars as ex-Special Forces agent Robert McCall, and you better hope you’re not on his list.

Best Denzel Washington movies: Denzel Washington as Troy in Fences

3. Fences (2016)

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 play of the same name, Fences is a showcase not just for Washington’s prowess, but DCU actor Viola Davis’ too.

This on-screen pairing was an absolute treat — as much of a cemented star as Washington is, it’s the full package that makes this period drama what it is.

The best Denzel Washington movies: Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day

2. Training Day (2001)

Washington won his second Oscar for his role as the dirty LAPD detective Alonzo Harris. He starred alongside Ethan Hawke in the role of his rookie cop, and Training Day‘s thrills come from never being able to pin Alonzo down.

It’s an exciting story of corruption and morality, and the unpredictable turns in Washington’s performance make it stand out amongst the similar movies in his catalogue.

Best Denzel Washington movies: Denzel Washington in Malcolm X

1. Malcolm X (1992)

A riveting Spike Lee joint, Washington’s performance in Malcolm X looms large over the movie. The tale of the murdered civil rights leader is an achievement in biopic filmmaking, and one of the best movies based on a true story to bring a colossal figure to screen.

Washington fully embodied all the role entailed, and boasts a powerful lasting impression when the film fades to black, leaving nothing but the memory and ideals of the titan at the centre of it.

There you have it. For more suggestions, check out the best Tom Cruise movies and best Matt Damon movies. Or, find out about all the new movies coming soon.