Oprah. Madonna. Adele. Drake. Sia. Bono. Gotye. Flea. Cher. Sting. And don’t forget about Coolio.
There are a lot of celebrities who go by only one name. However, after a bit of research, I couldn’t find any actors (who are just solely actors and not also singers or rappers—sorry Elvis … and Ludacris) who are in the one-name club. But if there’s any actor who COULD be, it’s Denzel Washington. If you say “Denzel,” everyone’s gonna know who you’re talking about! And he’s definitely A-list enough to pull it off.
He’s one of the country’s most beloved actors and just oozes cool. And I’m stupid for even attempting a list of his 5 best movies because he’s got so, so many great ones — including his latest, the legal drama Roman J. Israel, Esquire — which recently hit the Box AND earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
But I’m still doing my list. Here are 5 of the best Denzel movies:
Glory: Denzel started acting in movies in the early ‘80s, and within a decade he’d won his first Oscar for his unforgettable performance as Trip, a slave-turned-soldier in this film about a black Union Army unit in the Civil War.
Malcolm X: Just a few years later in 1992 Denzel became Malcolm X. It was the kind of role and the kind of performance that other actors probably would’ve retired after because they knew they’d never top it. But Denzel was just getting started at that point. He collected an Oscar nomination and kept on going.
Training Day: Less than a decade later Washington had a second gold statue on his mantel, this time for bringing us the corrupt and downright evil LAPD narcotics detective Alonzo Harris, who uses some, um, pretty controversial methods to “evaluate” a younger cop (Ethan Hawke).
Unstoppable: Before things get a little too heavy on this list, I’m going to remind you that Denzel also starred (alongside Chris Pine) in one of my favorite action thrillers. It’s the definition of an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter. But never fear: a runaway train ain’t no match for Denzel!
Flight: OK, now we’re back with yet another performance that earned Denzel another Oscar nomination. This time he plays a drugged-out alcoholic pilot who saves most of the people on his doomed flight by choosing to fly the plane upside-down after it loses its engines. Will he be lauded as a hero . . . or condemned for downing a few drinks before takeoff?
I’m positive you all have other Denzel movies you would’ve put on this list. What would be your top 5?