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5 Denzel Washington movies you need to watch right now

King Kong ain’t got nothing on him. Having won three Golden Globes, two Oscars, and one Tony, Denzel Washington remains one of the greatest actors of the modern era. With an acting career spanning almost 50 years, Washington has starred in many films, shows, and stage plays that were all elevated by his earnest and magnetic energy as a performer.

With The Equalizer 3 now out in theaters, fans should also sit back and watch these five films featuring the legendary actor.

The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Denzel Washington in Apple TV+'s "The Tragedy of Macbeth."
Apple TV+ / Apple TV+

Washington leads director Joel Coen’s black-and-white version of Shakespeare’s classic tale, delivering a stirring performance as the titular king alongside Frances McDormand.

There have been many adaptations of the Scottish play in the past, but The Tragedy of Macbeth stands out for its stunning and distinctive visuals, which hark back to the films of classic Hollywood. Shakespearean films may not be everyone’s thing, but the acting and cinematic imagery make this picture worth a watch for any film buff.

Philadelphia (1993)

Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in "Philadelphia."
TriStar Pictures / TriStar Pictures

Philadelphia depicts a gay man (Tom Hanks) who loses his job after his AIDS diagnosis is discovered and the attorney (Washington) who represents him in the lawsuit against his former employers for wrongful termination.

Director Jonathan Demme’s iconic film was pivotal upon release for how it portrayed homosexuality and addressed the prejudice brought on by the HIV/AIDS crisis. But at the center of this heart-wrenching film are two men who fight to overcome stigma and prejudice in the City of Brotherly Love.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Denzel Washington in "Remember the Titans"
Disney / Disney

Based on the life of Herman Boone, Remember the Titans features Washington playing the coach of T.C. Williams High School’s newly integrated football team. Any football fan has seen this movie at least once in their life, as it has long been considered a classic of the sports film genre, mainly due to Washington’s riveting lead performance.

Training Day (2001)

Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington in "Training Day."
Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures

What kind of list would this be without the film that helped Denzel finally get the Oscar for Best Actor? Training Day follows a wide-eyed LAPD officer assigned to shadow a narcotics detective, only to discover his new mentor is a crooked cop deep in debt to the Russian mafia.

This gritty police thriller takes a dark voyage into Los Angeles’s criminal underworld and shows how both sides of the law have been corrupted, making the audience question where the line is drawn and how far is too far.

Malcolm X (1992)

Denzel Washington speaks to a crowd as Malcolm X in "Malcolm X" (1992).
40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks / 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

Directed by Spike Lee, this acclaimed biopic follows the life of Malcolm X as he goes from crime and imprisonment to fighting the oppression of African Americans as a controversial, but revolutionary civil rights leader.

True to Lee’s nature as a filmmaker, this three-and-a-half-hour historical epic burns with a passionate and sincere celebration of Malcolm’s life as he grows and rises to battle racism in all its forms. At the same time, Washington practically invokes the spirit of Malcolm with a performance that deserves all the praise in the world.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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