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All Denzel Washington Movies Ranked

Over the course of his decades in show business, Denzel Washington has done pretty much everything — he’s played cops (good and bad), lawyers, reporters, educators, doctors, mobsters, and more, earning multiple Academy Awards and more than a billion dollars in box office grosses along the way. Of course, it’s fairly difficult to do all that without piling up a pretty hefty stack of positive reviews, and Mr. Washington’s filmography has definitely drawn its share, from Oscar winners like GloryTraining Day, and Philadelphia to his collaborations with director Spike Lee, like Malcolm XHe Got Game, and Inside Man. With all of that in mind, we’re here to celebrate by taking a comprehensive look at his career, including the best Denzel Washington movies and the worst. Perfection! Let’s go to work.

#45

Heart Condition (1990)
10%

#45
Adjusted Score: 9800%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A racist policeman (Bob Hoskins) receives the transplanted heart, and soul, of a black lawyer (Denzel Washington) he doesn't like.... [More]
Directed By: James D. Perriott

#44

John Q (2002)
23%

#44
Adjusted Score: 27188%
Critics Consensus: Washington's performance rises above the material, but John Q pounds the audience over the head with its message.
Synopsis: A desperate man (Denzel Washington) takes hostages at a hospital in order to force doctors to save his dying son.... [More]
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 32948%
Critics Consensus: A talented cast is wasted on a bland attempt at a suspenseful, serial killer flick.
Synopsis: A quadriplegic detective (Denzel Washington) and a patrol cop (Angelina Jolie) try to catch a killer re-creating grisly crimes.... [More]
Directed By: Phillip Noyce

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 30418%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Denied a passport to visit Paris, a former British paratrooper (Denzel Washington) from the West Indies rebels.... [More]
Directed By: Martin Stellman

#41

Virtuosity (1995)
32%

#41
Adjusted Score: 33701%
Critics Consensus: Woefully deficient in thrills or common sense, Virtuosity strands its talented stars in a story whose vision of the future is depressingly short on imagination.
Synopsis: An ex-cop (Denzel Washington) doing prison time chases a virtual-reality killer (Russell Crowe) from the program onto the Los Angeles... [More]
Directed By: Brett Leonard

#40

Man on Fire (2004)
38%

#40
Adjusted Score: 43207%
Critics Consensus: Man on Fire starts out well, but goes over the top in the violent second half.
Synopsis: Hired as a bodyguard for a young girl (Dakota Fanning), a retired CIA agent (Denzel Washington) takes revenge on her... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#39

Fallen (1998)
40%

#39
Adjusted Score: 43665%
Critics Consensus: Has an interesting premise. Unfortunately, it's just a recycling of old materials, and not all that thrilling.
Synopsis: Detectives (Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland) investigate murders committed in a manner used by a recently executed serial killer.... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Hoblit

#38

The Siege (1998)
44%

#38
Adjusted Score: 46625%
Critics Consensus: An exciting, well-paced action film.
Synopsis: An FBI agent (Denzel Washington), a Middle East specialist (Annette Bening) and a power-mad general (Bruce Willis) try to thwart... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#37

The Book of Eli (2010)
46%

#37
Adjusted Score: 53272%
Critics Consensus: It's certainly uneven, and many viewers will find that its reach exceeds its grasp, but The Book of Eli finds the Hughes brothers injecting some fresh stylish fun into the kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland filmgoers have seen more than enough of lately.
Synopsis: A lone warrior (Denzel Washington) faces many dangers as he carries hope for humanity's redemption across a post-apocalyptic wasteland.... [More]

#36

Power (1986)
50%

#36
Adjusted Score: 50523%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A PR hotshot (Richard Gere) and his media mentor (Gene Hackman) become opposing players in political races.... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 56915%
Critics Consensus: Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington are a compelling team in the overlong Pelican Brief, a pulpy thriller that doesn't quite justify the intellectual remove of Alan J. Pakula's direction.
Synopsis: A Washington reporter (Denzel Washington) helps an on-the-run law student (Julia Roberts) who knows too much about a government cover-up.... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 59483%
Critics Consensus: Despite a strong cast, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 suffers under the excesses of Tony Scott's frantic direction, and fails to measure up to the 1974 original.
Synopsis: A subway dispatcher (Denzel Washington) calls on his extensive knowledge of the transit system to outwit hijackers who are threatening... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 62307%
Critics Consensus: Intriguing yet heavy-handed, Roman J. Israel, Esq. makes the most of -- but never quite lives up to -- Denzel Washington's magnetic performance in the title role.
Synopsis: Roman J. Israel is an idealistic defense attorney who joins another law firm after the death of his boss and... [More]
Directed By: Dan Gilroy

#32

Safe House (2012)
53%

#32
Adjusted Score: 61715%
Critics Consensus: Safe House stars Washington and Reynolds are let down by a thin script and choppily edited action sequences.
Synopsis: After barely escaping an attack by mercenaries, a rookie agent (Ryan Reynolds) and a renegade operative (Denzel Washington) must join... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa

#31

Déjà Vu (2006)
56%

#31
Adjusted Score: 61160%
Critics Consensus: Tony Scott tries to combine action, science fiction, romance, and explosions into one movie, but the time travel conceit might be too preposterous and the action falls apart under scrutiny.
Synopsis: A time-folding federal agent (Denzel Washington) falls in love with a New Orleans woman (Paula Patton) who is targeted to... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 62566%
Critics Consensus: Solid performances and a steady directorial hand help The Preacher's Wife offer some reliably heartwarming - albeit fairly predictable - holiday cheer.
Synopsis: A handsome angel (Denzel Washington) saves a New York Baptist (Courtney Vance) and his wife (Whitney Houston) from spiritual doubt... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#29

The Equalizer (2014)
60%

#29
Adjusted Score: 68760%
Critics Consensus: The Equalizer is more stylishly violent than meaningful, but with Antoine Fuqua behind the cameras and Denzel Washington dispensing justice, it delivers.
Synopsis: A former commando (Denzel Washington) comes out of retirement and puts his special skills to work to rescue a girl... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 78267%
Critics Consensus: The Magnificent Seven never really lives up to the superlative in its title -- or the classics from which it draws inspiration -- but remains a moderately diverting action thriller on its own merits.
Synopsis: Desperate townspeople hire seven mercenaries (Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke) to battle a greedy industrialist (Peter Sarsgaard) and his... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#27

2 Guns (2013)
65%

#27
Adjusted Score: 72798%
Critics Consensus: Formulaic and often jarringly violent, 2 Guns rests its old-school appeal on the interplay between its charismatic, well-matched stars.
Synopsis: In the dark about each other's true identity, two undercover agents (Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg) from competing bureaus go on... [More]
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur

#26

Out of Time (2003)
64%

#26
Adjusted Score: 68790%
Critics Consensus: A fun and stylish thriller if you can get past the contrivances.
Synopsis: Considered a suspect in a deadly arson, a police chief (Denzel Washington) must cover his tracks while trying to prove... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#25

Ricochet (1991)
72%

#25
Adjusted Score: 72854%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An escaped hit man (John Lithgow) seeks revenge on the policeman turned district attorney (Denzel Washington) who sent him to... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#24

Training Day (2001)
73%

#24
Adjusted Score: 78241%
Critics Consensus: The ending may be less than satisfying, but Denzel Washington reminds us why he's such a great actor in this taut and brutal police drama.
Synopsis: A rookie cop (Ethan Hawke) meets a corrupt Los Angeles narcotics officer (Denzel Washington) who wants to include him in... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#23

Mo' Better Blues (1990)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 72364%
Critics Consensus: Mo' Better Blues is rich with vibrant hues and Denzel Washington's impassioned performance, although its straightforward telling lacks the political punch fans expect from a Spike Lee joint.
Synopsis: Music comes first for a Manhattan jazzman (Denzel Washington) with one too many lovers and a manager (Spike Lee) who... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 77639%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: A Virginia high school hires a black football coach (Denzel Washington) after undergoing integration in 1971.... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#21

Flight (2012)
77%

#21
Adjusted Score: 86923%
Critics Consensus: Robert Zemeckis makes a triumphant return to live-action cinema with Flight, a thoughtful and provocative character study propelled by a compelling performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: A veteran pilot (Denzel Washington) makes a miraculous landing after a mechanical malfunction sends his plane hurtling toward the ground,... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#20

Philadelphia (1993)
81%

#20
Adjusted Score: 85362%
Critics Consensus: Philadelphia indulges in some unfortunate clichés in its quest to impart a meaningful message, but its stellar cast and sensitive direction are more than enough to compensate.
Synopsis: Fired by his firm, a lawyer (Tom Hanks) with AIDS fights back in court with help from his lawyer (Denzel... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 83649%
Critics Consensus: A wonderful cast and top-notch script elevate The Great Debaters beyond a familiar formula for a touching, uplifting drama.
Synopsis: In 1930s Texas, Mel Tolson (Denzel Washington) inspires students at a predominately black college to form a debate team and... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#18

Antwone Fisher (2002)
78%

#18
Adjusted Score: 82989%
Critics Consensus: Washington's directing debut is a solidly crafted, emotionally touching work.
Synopsis: A Navy psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) inspires a temperamental sailor (Derek Luke), abused by foster parents, to find his birth mother.... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 83366%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: People resent the romance of a black man (Denzel Washington) and an Indian woman (Sarita Choudhury) in a Mississippi town.... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#16

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#16
Adjusted Score: 83696%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: A convict's (Denzel Washington) freedom depends upon convincing his estranged son (Ray Allen), a basketball star, to attend the governor's... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 85749%
Critics Consensus: While not the classic its predecessor is, this update is well-acted and conjures a chilling resonance.
Synopsis: A troubled Gulf War veteran (Denzel Washington) becomes suspicious after a powerful senator's (Meryl Streep) son (Liev Schreiber) becomes a... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 88244%
Critics Consensus: American Gangster is a gritty and entertaining throwback to classic gangster films, with its lead performers firing on all cylinders.
Synopsis: A Harlem mobster (Denzel Washington) combines ingenuity and strict business codes to dominate organized crime, while a veteran cop (Russell... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#13

Cry Freedom (1987)
76%

#13
Adjusted Score: 77874%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Set in apartheid-torn South Africa, Donald Woods is the editor of the East London Daily Express and Steve Biko is... [More]
Directed By: Richard Attenborough

#12

The Hurricane (1999)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 88559%
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to one of Denzel Washington's most powerful on-screen performances, The Hurricane is a moving, inspirational sports drama, even if it takes few risks in telling its story.
Synopsis: Aided by a Brooklyn teen (Vicellous Reon Shannon) and three Canadians, boxer Rubin Carter (Denzel Washington) fights to be exonerated... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 88358%
Critics Consensus: An emotional and intriguing tale of a military officer who must review the merits of a fallen officer while confronting his own war demons. Effectively depicts the terrors of war as well as its heartbreaking aftermath.
Synopsis: A troubled officer (Denzel Washington) reviews the Medal of Honor candidacy of a female helicopter pilot (Meg Ryan) killed during... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#10

Unstoppable (2010)
87%

#10
Adjusted Score: 92753%
Critics Consensus: As fast, loud, and relentless as the train at the center of the story, Unstoppable is perfect popcorn entertainment -- and director Tony Scott's best movie in years.
Synopsis: When an unmanned locomotive roars out of control, two railroad employees (Denzel Washington, Chris Pine) must find a way to... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#9

Inside Man (2006)
86%

#9
Adjusted Score: 94138%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee's energetic and clever bank-heist thriller is a smart genre film that is not only rewarding on its own terms, but manages to subvert its pulpy trappings with wit and skill.
Synopsis: An enigmatic woman (Jodie Foster) threatens to push past the breaking point a volatile game between a bank robber (Clive... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#8

Crimson Tide (1995)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 91447%
Critics Consensus: Boasting taut, high energy thrills and some cracking dialogue courtesy of an uncredited Quentin Tarantino, Crimson Tide finds director Tony Scott near the top of his action game.
Synopsis: Two U.S. Navy officers (Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman) clash aboard a nuclear submarine bound for Russia, while that country is... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#7

The Mighty Quinn (1989)
88%

#7
Adjusted Score: 87715%
Critics Consensus: A deft hybrid of laughs, espionage, and music, The Mighty Quinn is a smart, pleasant entertainment that offers an early example of Denzel Washington's onscreen magnetism.
Synopsis: Power figures want a Caribbean police chief (Denzel Washington) to find his friend Maubee (Robert Townsend), their scapegoat for a... [More]
Directed By: Carl Schenkel

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 92406%
Critics Consensus: Humor, interesting characters, and attention to details make the stylish Devil in a Blue Dress an above average noir.
Synopsis: A mortgage and no job force a black war hero (Denzel Washington) to seek a mystery lady (Jennifer Beals) for... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 92757%
Critics Consensus: A meticulously-crafted murder mystery with incisive observations about race in America, A Soldier's Story benefits from a roundly excellent ensemble and Charles Fuller's politically urgent screenplay.
Synopsis: An Army lawyer (Howard E. Rollins Jr.) probes the slaying of a sergeant (Adolph Caesar) from an all-black unit in... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 93467%
Critics Consensus: Kenneth Branagh's love for the material is contagious in this exuberant adaptation.
Synopsis: Shakespeare's Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) pairs Benedick (Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson) and woos Hero for Claudio around a... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#3

Malcolm X (1992)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 93702%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a powerful performance from Denzel Washington, Spike Lee's biopic of legendary civil rights leader Malcolm X brings his autobiography to life with an epic sweep and a nuanced message.
Synopsis: The civil-rights leader (Denzel Washington) rises from criminal to crusader, undergoing a religious conversion while jailed.... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#2

Glory (1989)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96800%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made.
Synopsis: Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) trains and leads an all-black regiment during the U.S. Civil War.... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#1

Fences (2016)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 103943%
Critics Consensus: From its reunited Broadway stars to its screenplay, the solidly crafted Fences finds its Pulitzer-winning source material fundamentally unchanged -- and still just as powerful.
Synopsis: Now working as a garbage collector in 1950s Pittsburgh, a former baseball star (Denzel Washington) creates tension in his family... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

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