Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) watches Vincent crawl down his stairs in Columbia Pictures 'The Equalizer 3.'

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) watches Vincent crawl down his stairs in Columbia Pictures 'The Equalizer 3.' Photo: Stefano Montesi.

Denzel Washington is the most beloved and respected actor of his generation.

Practically beginning his career by winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 'Glory,' Washington would go on to make such movies as 'Malcolm X,' 'Philadelphia,' 'Crimson Tide,' 'Devil in a Blue Dress,' 'The Hurricane' and 'Remember the Titans' before winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for playing Alonzo Harris in 'Training Day.'

Since then, the Oscar-winning actor has appeared in such films as 'Man on Fire,' 'Inside Man,' 'American Gangster,' 'Unstoppable,' 'Safe House,' 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'The Equalizer' franchise, the third of which entitled 'The Equalizer 3,' opens in theaters on September 1st.

In honor of 'The Equalizer 3's release, Moviefone is counting down the 45 best movies of Denzel Washington's incredibly impressive acting career.

Let's begin!


45. 'The Little Things' (2021)

Denzel Washington as Joe "Deke" Deacon in 'The Little Things' from Warner Bros. Pictures.

Denzel Washington as Joe "Deke" Deacon in 'The Little Things' from Warner Bros. Pictures.

Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon (Washington) joins forces with Sgt. Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) to search for a serial killer who's terrorizing Los Angeles. As they track the culprit, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke's past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

The Little Things

"Some things never let us go."
63
R2 hr 8 minJan 29th, 2021


44. 'The Preacher's Wife' (1996)

Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia (Whitney Houston) is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines). In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help - and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley (Washington).

The Preacher's Wife

The Preacher's Wife

"They needed help. What they got was a miracle."
58
PG2 hr 3 minDec 13th, 1996


43. 'Antwone Fisher' (2002)

A sailor (Derek Luke) prone to violent outbursts is sent to a naval psychiatrist for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood. Through the guidance of his doctor (Washington), he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew.

Antwone Fisher

Antwone Fisher

"Antwone Fisher is at war... with himself."
69
PG-132 hrJan 10th, 2003


42. 'The Manchurian Candidate' (2004)

Years after his squad was ambushed during the Gulf War, Major Ben Marco (Washington) finds himself having terrible nightmares. He begins to doubt that his fellow squad-mate Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), now a vice-presidential candidate, is the hero he remembers him being. As Marco's doubts deepen, Shaw's political power grows, and, when Marco finds a mysterious implant embedded in his back, the memory of what really happened begins to return.

The Manchurian Candidate

"Everything is under control."
65
R2 hr 9 minJul 30th, 2004
Showtimes & Tickets


41. 'The Siege' (1998)

The secret US abduction of a suspected terrorist from his Middle East homeland leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York. An FBI senior agent (Washington) and his team attempt to locate and decommission the enemy cells, but must also deal with an Army General (Bruce Willis) gone rogue and a female CIA agent (Annette Bening) of uncertain loyalties.

The Siege

The Siege

"An enemy they can't see. A nation under siege. A crisis they can't control."
63
R1 hr 56 minNov 6th, 1998


40. 'Déjà Vu' (2006)

Denzel Washington stars in 'Déjà Vu' from Buena Vista Pictures.

Denzel Washington stars in 'Déjà Vu' from Buena Vista Pictures.

Called in to recover evidence in the aftermath of a horrific explosion on a New Orleans ferry, Federal agent Doug Carlin (Washington) gets pulled away from the scene and taken to a top-secret government lab that uses a time-shifting surveillance device to help prevent crime.

Déjà Vu

"If you thought it was just a trick of the mind, prepare yourself for the truth."
69
PG-132 hr 6 minNov 22nd, 2006
Showtimes & Tickets


39. 'Out of Time' (2003)

Matt Lee Whitlock (Washington), respected chief of police in small Banyan Key, Florida, must solve a vicious double homicide before he himself falls under suspicion. Matt Lee has to stay a few steps ahead of his own police force and everyone he's trusted in order to find out the truth.

Out of Time

"How do you solve a murder when all the evidence points to you?"
63
R1 hr 45 minOct 3rd, 2003


38. 'Much Ado About Nothing' (1993)

In this Shakespearean farce, Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and her groom-to-be, Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), team up with Claudio's commanding officer, Don Pedro (Washington), the week before their wedding to hatch a matchmaking scheme. Their targets are sharp-witted duo Benedick (Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson) -- a tough task indeed, considering their corresponding distaste for love and each other. Meanwhile, meddling Don John (Keanu Reeves) plots to ruin the wedding.

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

"Romance. Mischief. Seduction. Revenge. Remarkable."
70
PG-131 hr 51 minMay 7th, 1993


37. 'Fallen' (1998)

Homicide detective John Hobbes (Washington) witnesses the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). Soon after the execution the killings start again, and they are very similar to Reese's style.

Fallen

Fallen

"Detective John Hobbes is searching for a criminal he's already met... already caught... and already killed."
68
R2 hr 4 minJan 16th, 1998


36. 'Mississippi Masala' (1991)

An Indian family is expelled from Uganda when Idi Amin takes power. They move to Mississippi and time passes. The Indian daughter (Sarita Choudhury) falls in love with a black man (Washington), and the respective families have to come to terms with it.

Mississippi Masala

Mississippi Masala

"Passion. Tradition. Mix it up."
63
R1 hr 58 minFeb 5th, 1992
Showtimes & Tickets


35. 'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' (2017)

Denzel Washington as Roman J. Israel in 'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' from Sony Pictures.

Denzel Washington as Roman J. Israel in 'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' from Sony Pictures.

Hard-nosed liberal lawyer Roman J. Israel (Washington) has been fighting the good fight forever while others take the credit. When his partner – the firm's frontman – has a heart attack, Israel suddenly takes on that role. He soon discovers some unsettling truths about the firm – truths that conflict with his values of helping the poor and dispossessed – and finds himself in an existential crisis that leads to extreme actions.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

"All rise."
63
PG-132 hr 2 minNov 22nd, 2017


34. 'Virtuosity' (1995)

The Law Enforcement Technology Advancement Centre (LETAC) has developed SID version 6.7 (Russell Crowe): a Sadistic, Intelligent, and Dangerous virtual reality entity which is synthesized from the personalities of more than 150 serial killers, and only one man can stop him.

Virtuosity

Virtuosity

"Justice needs a new program."
55
R1 hr 46 minAug 4th, 1995


33. 'A Soldier's Story' (1984)

In a rural town in Louisiana, a black Master Sergeant is found shot to death just outside the local Army Base. Military lawyer, Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins Jr.)—also a black man—is sent from Washington to conduct an investigation. Facing an uncooperative chain of command and fearful black troops, Davenport must battle with deceit and prejudice in order to find out exactly who really did kill the Master Sergeant.

A Soldier's Story

A Soldier's Story

"Alone, far from home, and far from justice, he has three days to learn the truth about a murder... and the truth is a story you won't forget."
67
PG1 hr 41 minSep 14th, 1984


32. 'Courage Under Fire' (1996)

A US Army officer (Washington), who made a "friendly fire" mistake that was covered up, has been reassigned to a desk job. He is tasked to investigate a female chopper commander's (Meg Ryan) worthiness to be awarded the Medal of Honor. At first all seems in order. But then he begins to notice inconsistencies between the testimonies of the witnesses...

Courage Under Fire

"A medal for honor. A search for justice. A battle for truth."
65
R1 hr 56 minJul 4th, 1996


31. 'Mo' Better Blues' (1990)

Talented but self-centered trumpeter Bleek Gillian (Washington) is obsessed with his music and indecisiveness about his girlfriends Indigo (Joie Lee) and Clarke (Cynda Williams). But when he is forced to come to the aid of his manager and childhood friend (Spike Lee), Bleek finds his world more fragile that he ever imagined.


30. 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' (2021)

Denzel Washington in 'The Tragedy of Macbeth'

Denzel Washington in 'The Tragedy of Macbeth.'

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Joel Coen comes the propulsive, boldly cinematic 'The Tragedy of Macbeth,' starring Oscar-winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as the devious, ill-fated Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. An original, striking reimagining of the classic Shakespearean tale portrayed in sumptuous black-and-white cinematography, 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' finds the titular general and his loyal wife older and warier, desperately striving against a merciless ticking clock as they attempt to seize upon a final opportunity for power. In the chaos that ensues, their grasp on the throne unravels, terror mounts and regret enshrouds every inch of their wretched world. Co-starring Kathryn Hunter, Corey Hawkins, Moses Ingram, Brendan Gleeson, Harry Melling and Bertie Carvel.


29. 'John Q' (2002)

John Quincy Archibald (Washington) is a father and husband whose son is diagnosed with an enlarged heart and then finds out he cannot receive a transplant because HMO insurance will not cover it. Therefore, he decides to take a hospital full of patients hostage until the hospital puts his son's name on the donor's list.

John Q

John Q

"Give a father no options and you leave him no choice."
71
PG-131 hr 56 minFeb 15th, 2002


28. 'He Got Game' (1998)

A basketball player's  father (Washington) must try to convince him (Ray Allen) to go to a college so he can get a shorter prison sentence.

He Got Game

"The father, the son and the holy game."
68
R2 hr 16 minMay 1st, 1998
Showtimes & Tickets


27. 'The Book of Eli' (2010)

A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man (Washington) fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.

The Book of Eli

"Some will kill to have it. He will kill to protect it."
68
R1 hr 58 minJan 15th, 2010


26. 'Ricochet' (1991)

An attorney (Washington) is terrorized by the criminal (John Lithgow) he put away years ago when he was a cop.

Ricochet

Ricochet

"This is one case that's going to be settled out of court."
61
R1 hr 42 minOct 4th, 1991


25. 'Flight' (2012)

Denzel Washington as Captain William "Whip" Whitaker in 'Flight' from Paramount Pictures.

Denzel Washington as Captain William "Whip" Whitaker in 'Flight' from Paramount Pictures.

Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) has a problem with drugs and alcohol, though so far he's managed to complete his flights safely. His luck runs out when a disastrous mechanical malfunction sends his plane hurtling toward the ground. Whip pulls off a miraculous crash-landing that results in only six lives lost. Shaken to the core, Whip vows to get sober -- but when the crash investigation exposes his addiction, he finds himself in an even worse situation.

Flight

"Some miracles are not what they seem."
68
R2 hr 18 minNov 2nd, 2012


24. 'The Bone Collector' (1999)

Rookie cop, Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) reluctantly teams with Lincoln Rhyme (Washington) – formerly the department's top homicide detective but now paralyzed as a result of a spinal injury – to catch a grisly serial killer dubbed 'The Bone Collector'. The murderer's special signature is to leave tantalizing clues based on the grim remains of his crimes.

The Bone Collector

The Bone Collector

"Two cops on the trail of a serial killer. They must see as one... They must act as one... They must think as one... Before another victim falls."
68
R1 hr 58 minNov 5th, 1999


23. '2 Guns' (2013)

A DEA agent (Washington) and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer (Mark Wahlberg) who have been tasked with investigating one another find they have been set up by the mob -- the very organization the two men believe they have been stealing money from.

2 Guns

"2 Guns, 1 Bank."
65
R1 hr 49 minAug 2nd, 2013


22. 'Cry Freedom' (1987)

A dramatic story, based on actual events, about the friendship between two men struggling against apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s. Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is a white liberal journalist in South Africa who begins to follow the activities of Stephen Biko (Washington), a courageous and outspoken black anti-apartheid activist.

Cry Freedom

Cry Freedom

"The true story of the friendship that shook South Africa and awakened the world."
70
PG2 hr 37 minNov 6th, 1987
Showtimes & Tickets


21. 'Philadelphia' (1993)

Two competing lawyers (Tom Hanks and Washington) join forces to sue a prestigious law firm for AIDS discrimination. As their unlikely friendship develops their courage overcomes the prejudice and corruption of their powerful adversaries.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia

"No one would take on his case... until one man was willing to take on the system."
77
PG-132 hr 6 minJan 14th, 1994


20. 'The Equalizer 3' (2023)

Denzel Washington in 'The Equalizer 3.'

Denzel Washington in 'The Equalizer 3.' Photo: Stefano Montesi.

Since giving up his life as a government assassin, Robert McCall (Washington) has struggled to reconcile the horrific things he’s done in the past and finds a strange solace in serving justice on behalf of the oppressed. Finding himself surprisingly at home in Southern Italy, he discovers his new friends are under the control of local crime bosses. As events turn deadly, McCall knows what he has to do: become his friends’ protector by taking on the mafia.

The Equalizer 3

"Justice knows no borders"
73
R1 hr 49 minSep 1st, 2023
Showtimes & Tickets


19. 'The Magnificent Seven' (2016)

Looking to mine for gold, greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) seizes control of the Old West town of Rose Creek. With their lives in jeopardy, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) and other desperate residents turn to bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington) for help. Chisolm recruits an eclectic group of gunslingers to take on Bogue and his ruthless henchmen. With a deadly showdown on the horizon, the seven mercenaries soon find themselves fighting for more than just money once the bullets start to fly.

The Magnificent Seven

"Justice has a number."
64
PG-132 hr 12 minSep 23rd, 2016


18. 'Unstoppable' (2010)

A runaway train, transporting deadly, toxic chemicals, is barreling down on Stanton, Pennsylvania, and proves to be unstoppable until a veteran engineer (Washington) and young conductor (Chris Pine) risk their lives to try and stop it with a switch engine.

Unstoppable

Unstoppable

"1,000,000 Tons. 100,000 Lives. 100 Minutes."
66
PG-131 hr 38 minNov 12th, 2010
Showtimes & Tickets


17. 'The Pelican Brief' (1993)

Two Supreme Court Justices have been assassinated. One lone law student (Julia Roberts) has stumbled upon the truth. An investigative journalist (Washington) wants her story. Everybody else wants her dead.

The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief

"Two Supreme Court Justices have been assassinated. One lone law student has stumbled upon the truth. An investigative journalist wants her story. Everybody else wants her dead."
66
PG-132 hr 21 minDec 16th, 1993


16. 'Crimson Tide' (1995)

After the Cold War, a breakaway Russian republic with nuclear warheads becomes a possible worldwide threat. U.S. submarine Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) signs on a relatively green but highly recommended Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter (Washington) to the USS Alabama, which may be the only ship able to stop a possible Armageddon. When Ramsay insists that the Alabama must act aggressively, Hunter, fearing they will start rather than stop a disaster, leads a potential mutiny to stop him.

Crimson Tide

Crimson Tide

"Danger runs deep."
72
R1 hr 56 minMay 12th, 1995


15. 'Fences' (2016)

Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in 'Fences' from Paramount Pictures.

(L to R) Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in 'Fences' from Paramount Pictures.

In 1950s Pittsburgh, a frustrated African-American father (Washington) struggles with the constraints of poverty, racism, and his own inner demons as he tries to raise a family.

Fences

"Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in."
69
PG-132 hr 19 minDec 25th, 2016
Showtimes & Tickets


14. 'The Equalizer 2' (2018)

Robert McCall (Washington), who serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, embarks on a relentless, globe-trotting quest for vengeance when a long-time friend (Melissa Leo) is murdered.

The Equalizer 2

The Equalizer 2

"There is no equal."
68
R2 hr 1 minJul 20th, 2018
Showtimes & Tickets


13. 'The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3' (2009)

Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber (Washington) into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

"I can't get it out of my head. I'm gonna die today."
64
R1 hr 46 minJun 11th, 2009


12. 'Safe House' (2012)

A dangerous CIA renegade (Washington) resurfaces after a decade on the run. When the safe house he's remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Ryan Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.

Safe House

"No one is safe"
65
R1 hr 55 minFeb 10th, 2012


11. 'Glory' (1989)

Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.

Glory

Glory

"Their innocence. Their heritage. Their lives."
75
R2 hr 2 minFeb 16th, 1990
Showtimes & Tickets


10. 'Remember the Titans' (2000)

Denzel Washington as Herman Boone in 'Remember the Titans.'

(Right) Denzel Washington as Herman Boone in 'Remember the Titans.'

After leading his football team to 15 winning seasons, coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is demoted and replaced by Herman Boone (Washington) – who is tough, opinionated and as different from the beloved Yoast as he could be. The two men learn to overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions.

Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans

"History is written by the winners."
76
PG1 hr 53 minSep 29th, 2000


9. 'Devil in a Blue Dress' (1995)

In late 1940s Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins (Washington) is an unemployed black World War II veteran with few job prospects. At a bar, Easy meets DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore), a mysterious white man looking for someone to investigate the disappearance of a missing white woman named Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), who he suspects is hiding out in one of the city's black jazz clubs. Strapped for money and facing house payments, Easy takes the job, but soon finds himself in over his head.

Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress

"Private detective Easy Rawlins has been caught on the wrong side of the most dangerous secret in town."
64
R1 hr 42 minSep 29th, 1995
Showtimes & Tickets


8. 'American Gangster' (2007)

Following the death of his employer and mentor, Bumpy Johnson (Clarence Williams III), Frank Lucas (Washington) establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. He does so by buying heroin directly from the source in South East Asia and he comes up with a unique way of importing the drugs into the United States. Partly based on a true story.

American Gangster

American Gangster

"There are two sides to the American dream."
76
R2 hr 37 minNov 2nd, 2007


7. 'Inside Man' (2006)

When an armed, masked gang (led by Clive Owen) enter a Manhattan bank, lock the doors and take hostages, the detective (Washington) assigned to effect their release enters negotiations preoccupied with corruption charges he is facing.

Inside Man

"It looked like the perfect bank robbery. But you can’t judge a crime by its cover."
74
R2 hr 9 minMar 24th, 2006
Showtimes & Tickets


6. 'The Hurricane' (1999)

The story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (Washington), a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

The Hurricane

The Hurricane

"His greatest fight was for justice."
74
R2 hr 26 minDec 29th, 1999


5. 'Man on Fire' (2004)

Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning in director Tony Scott's 'Man on Fire.'

(L to R) Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning in director Tony Scott's 'Man on Fire.'

Jaded ex-CIA operative John Creasy (Washington) reluctantly accepts a job as the bodyguard for a 10-year-old girl (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City. They clash at first, but eventually bond, and when she's kidnapped he's consumed by fury and will stop at nothing to save her life.

Man on Fire

"Creasy's art is death, and he is about to paint his masterpiece."
75
R2 hr 26 minApr 23rd, 2004


4. 'The Equalizer' (2014)

Robert McCall (Washington) believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.

The Equalizer

"What do you see when you look at me?"
73
R2 hr 12 minSep 26th, 2014
Showtimes & Tickets


3. 'Malcolm X' (1992)

A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader (played by Washington) of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his imprisonment in the '50s, he became a Black Muslim and then a leader in the Nation of Islam. His assassination in 1965 left a legacy of self-determination and racial pride.

Malcolm X

"Scholar, convict, leader, disciple, hipster, father, hustler, minister, black man, every man."
75
PG-133 hr 22 minNov 18th, 1992
Showtimes & Tickets


2. 'The Mighty Quinn' (1989)

Police chief Xavier Quinn (Washington) investigates the gruesome murder of Donald Pater, one of the wealthiest residents on a Caribbean island. He was found decapitated in his Jacuzzi. Although the local political establishment, especially crooked Governor Chalk (Norman Beaton), insists that small-time thief Maubee (Robert Townsend) is responsible, Xavier has his doubts. This view is complicated by the police chief's personal history with Maubee: The men have been friends since childhood.

The Mighty Quinn

The Mighty Quinn

"The chief of police and the chief suspect know each other too well to let a little thing like murder get in their way."
62
R1 hr 38 minFeb 17th, 1989


1. 'Training Day' (2001)

Denzel Washington as Detective Alonzo Harris in 'Training Day.'

Denzel Washington as Detective Alonzo Harris in 'Training Day.'
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

On his first day on the job as a narcotics officer, a rookie cop (Ethan Hawke) works with a rogue detective (Washington) who isn't what he appears.

Training Day

Training Day

"The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed, is the cop who will cross it."
75
R2 hr 2 minOct 5th, 2001
Showtimes & Tickets