It was a hot July evening. Cosby was black man lives with white woman movie christian football to an audience of black men dressed in everything from Enyce T-shirts or polos to blazers and ties. Some were there with their sons. Some were there in wheelchairs.
Warner Bros. It's hard to think of many other contenders. He isn't known for disappearing into roles. You're always aware that you're watching him: the impossibly charming, handsome, smooth-talking black star who somehow single-handedly dismantled Hollywood's still active racial barriers and made Oscar history several times over.
Yet Washington has more range from one performance to another than most actors will have over a lifetime. He's able to convey superhuman fury Malcolm X and pitiful defeat Fences in little more than a quick change of his facial expression. And unlike some other maturing leading men, Washington has had no trouble transitioning out of his heartthrob days.
At 62, he keeps turning in some of the finest performances of any given year in movies about deeply American problems, particularly race relations, except now the lines on his face convey the wisdom of someone who learned long ago that there are no easy answers.
Here are Denzel Washington's best movies ranked. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below Deja Vu Deja Vu is one of those high-concept thrillers that seems a lot cooler on paper: Washington is a no-bullshit federal agent who joins a time-warping experiment to save Paula Patton from a terrorist.
Still, if it comes on cable, you will almost definitely watch it to the end. American Gangster An effective throwback to classic gangster movies with Washington as a Harlem mob boss, American Gangster is shortchanged by the fact that it just can't live up to its predecessors.
Ricochet It's by far the scuzziest piece of trash Washington has ever been part of, and also undeniably enjoyable.
Starring the actor as a rising prosecutor who's being hunted by a man he put behind bars a deliciously evil John Lithgow , the movie somehow manages to combine white supremacists, a little person dancing on a bar, and Ice-T as a gangster with a secret heart of gold.
Case closed: You need to watch this movie, if only to believe it actually exists. The Bone Collector Washington and Angelina Jolie made a departure into the kind of grisly pulp that Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd used to specialize in, but this is still one of the better '90s serial-killer movies.
Remember the Titans One of Washington's more treacly, sentimental movies and he's not exactly afraid of treacly sentiment , the Disney-stamped Remember the Titans is saved by the depth its star brings to a man who integrates black and white high school football players, and teaches them invaluable life lessons along the way.
If only we all had a Coach Boone.
The Mighty Quinn While Washington's Caribbean accent isn't exactly his most convincing, he's game as the chief of police in this enjoyably light detour into island vibes and James Bond-level campy murder solving.
Man on Fire The movie's herky-jerky, trigger-happy style isn't for everyone, but Washington is the ideal leading man as an alcoholic bodyguard who will gun down anyone in his way to save Dakota Fanning's adorable little rich girl from Mexican kidnappers. Don't think about the plot too hard the movie sure doesn't —just embrace the blissful action.
Cry Freedom The overlong biopic puts too much focus on South African journalist Donald Woods Kevin Kline , who investigates the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, but Washington brings the moral gravity as Biko.
Unstoppable Washington stuck with Tony Scott even when the late director's movies faltered see: Deja Vu , but this thriller about a full-speed train run amuck is one of their surprise highlights. It's much more suspenseful than a train-chase movie made in has any right to be.
Out of Time Washington could have made a career just out of playing tortured detectives: He's a classic wronged man in Out of Time who has to think fast to save himself.
The movie is as urgent as the title makes it out to be. Courage Under Fire In the '90s, Washington embodied discipline and honor, and that was never truer than in this engrossing mystery about a military officer who looks into the record of a dead female pilot Meg Ryan and finds uncomfortable truths.
Crimson Tide Washington doesn't get enough credit for his smart choices early in his Hollywood career. In big movies then, he was almost always burdened with being "the black guy" paired up with a white star—but he subverted that dynamic in his favor.
He and Gene Hackman go toe-to-toe in Crimson Tide as dueling submarine officers, and the younger actor proves he can eat up the screen just as well. Philadelphia Philadelphia is a product of its time, for better and worse.
Washington's role as a lawyer who discovers that gays aren't so bad while defending Tom Hanks' AIDS-infected man looks light years away from today's culture, but that's in part because of how powerful the movie's sense of empathy is.
The Hurricane It's little more than a vehicle for yet another Oscar Washington was robbed of, but his performance as a wrongly imprisoned boxer is still one of his most mesmerizing. Mississippi Masala Washington had a brief stint as a rom-com star with this movie about the unlikely courtship between the daughter of Indian parents and a black man, and the fiction it causes in their families.
Given how credible and sexy the chemistry is, he could've done many more like it. Fences Fences is pretty obviously a movie directed by an actor, since it feels like a filmed play and sort of is—August Wilson adapted it from his own play. But it also contains some of the best acting ever put on a screen: Washington and Viola Davis will knock you out as an aging couple reckoning with their marriage's disappointments, but the biggest surprise is Jovan Adepo's remarkable feature-film debut as the son caught in the crosshairs.
Flight Up until its preachy, implausible final turn, Flight is a great, morally complex movie about a heroic pilot who also happens to be an addict. The bravura opening sequence is one of the greatest things Robert Zemeckis Back to the Future, Forrest Gump has ever done. Devil in a Blue Dress.