8 Epic Performances By Denzel Washington

1) Training Day

Training Day

Washington finally won his first Academy Award for Lead Actor in 2002 (having only won one Supporting Actor award previously), but he probably could have won a few times before. It was as if Training Day was just the last in a string of remarkable performances and while it stands out as certainly one of his very best, the award was almost retroactively in honor of the consistent brilliant roles he had been playing in the years leading up to that year, as Oscars often do. That’s more a testament to what was an outstanding career over a decade ago than to detract from his portrayal of corrupt cop Alonzo Harris in this film, which was written by David Ayer who has proven himself an excellent police story teller.

The film is perhaps the greatest example of the range of expression Washington is capable of even over the course of a single movie. Here we get to see him be charming, intimidating, aggressively and violently assertive, and fearful. While he isn’t the lead character of the film, he’s the main character, the one we want to understand the most and see the most on the screen. Denzel Washington has a way of having that effect on an audience—being so electrifying, whether he’s playing a good guy or an evil dude, that you want to watch him the entire time, and when he’s not on the screen, you’re constantly wondering where he is and what he’s up to. Even—or perhaps especially—when he’s playing someone as unpredictable and sinister as Alonzo Harris.