For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at pretty much one of the definitions of an A-list actor. He’s Denzel Washington, a two time Academy Award winning thespian and giant in the industry. Washington does more than just act of course, he’s an iconic movie star, there’s no doubt about that. If anyone is right for this sort of a spotlight, it’s him.
Washington got his start in TV movies, but on the big screen he made his first mark with Cry Freedom, which also got him nominated for Best Supporting Actor, his first nomination of what would become a half dozen (and counting). That established him as an up and comer, leading to his television role on the show St. Elsewhere, which ran for half a decade. That would open up some major film roles, including Glory, where he received his second Best Supporting Actor nomination and also took home his first Oscar. Washington was on his way to the A-list.
He next began his long collaboration with Spike Lee when he appeared in Mo’ Better Blues. A few years later, he’d get his third Oscar nomination and first appearance in Best Actor for his work as the lead in Malcolm X. Big time Hollywood roles were next, including The Bone Collector, Courage Under Fire, Crimson Tide, Fallen, The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Remember the Titans, and The Siege. He also worked with Lee again in He Got Game and scored another Best Actor nod for his baity work in biopic The Hurricane. Washington was officially a star.
His next major role came with Training Day, which won him his second Oscar, this time for Best Actor. Washington had become a juggernaut, able to act in pretty much whatever he pleased. That led to a run of work that was a bit hit or miss (though never boring), including 2 Guns, American Gangster, The Book of Eli, Deja Vu, Inside Man, John Q, The Manchurian Candidate, Man on Fire, Out of Time, Safe House, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and Unstoppable. At the same time though, he also made Flight, which got him his most recent nom in Best Actor.
This week, he stars in The Equalizer, a remake of the 80′s TV program and a very strong crowd pleaser (I enjoyed it quite a bit). Washington kicks some solid ass here, but he also plays a slightly older and wiser ass kicker than usual. It’s to some degree the next stage in evolution for the actor, one I’m very eager to see him make. He’s going to be a star for decades to come, so it’s nice to see him looking to change things up a bit.
For those who don’t remember, he’s also a well regarded filmmaker. He’s directed both Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters, two solid dramas that also featured some fine acting on his part. He tends to tackle issues behind the camera in a way he doesn’t always in front of it, but like everything else he does, these films are always interesting and worth seeing.
Overall, Washington is undoubtedly one of the biggest A-listers in the business as well as a real talent who is still going strong. In the next few years he’ll be starring in a sequel to The Equalizer (now a full on franchise) along with plenty of other projects, but you always know that a movie of his has the potential to be something really great. You usually can’t go wrong when you see Washington in the cast, even if the product is only decent at times. Washington is the consummate A-lister in my book, so I was glad to cite him here.