Denzel Washington's 10 most memorable movie roles
With six Oscar nominations (and two wins) in acting categories, Denzel Washington is one of the most respected and decorated actors of all time. With a cinematic career spanning nearly 40 years, Washington, who grew up in Mount Vernon, makes it tough to narrow down his most memorable movie roles to 10, but that's exactly what this photo gallery will attempt to do.
In chronological order, here are Denzel Washington's 10 most memorable movie roles, with bonus facts about other Hudson Valley connections to these films, whenever applicable. -Chris Serico
Cry Freedom (1987): Hollywood was right to pay attention to Washington's breakthrough performance in "Cry Freedom," in which he played South African activist Steve Biko. Washington would receive the first of his six Academy Award nominations for his performance, and he'd only have to wait two more years to win that trophy in the supporting category.
Glory (1989): Though Washington had been nominated for an Academy Award once before, "Glory" would mark the first time he'd celebrate with Oscar gold. Washington played an escaped slave that joins the Union Army's first all-black volunteer company during the Civil War. Washington also won the Golden Globe for his performance.
Malcolm X (1992): One of the best performances of Washington's career, and perhaps the defining one, is his portrayal of Malcolm X in the movie that shares the latter's name. Capturing all the charisma and controversy of the civil rights leader, Washington was nominated for best actor in a movie that shockingly wasn’t even nominated for best picture or best director (Spike Lee). Bonus fact: "Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli, who was raised in Mount Vernon and Brewster, has a small role as a reporter at the scene of a fire-bombing.
Philadelphia (1993): In "Philadelphia," Washington plays Joe Miller, a low-level lawyer representing Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a lawyer who is living with AIDS and filing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the firm that let him go. Bonus fact: "Philadelphia" was directed by Nyack resident Jonathan Demme, who'd won the Oscar for directing "The Silence of the Lambs" just two years earlier.
The Hurricane (1999): The true story that first inspired a similarly titled Bob Dylan song, "The Hurricane" features Washington as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer imprisoned for murder under suspicious circumstances, and the people who fought outside the ring for his release.
Remember the Titans (2000): Based on a true story, "Remember the Titans" stars Washington as Herman Boone, who takes over as football coach at a high school during its first year of racial integration. Bonus fact: The supporting cast of "Titans" features a young Hayden Panettiere, who grew up in Palisades, and now stars on ABC’s "Nashville."
Training Day (2001): Washington snagged his second Oscar for acting — but his first in a lead role — for playing another police detective ... but this one's a bit more nefarious than the one he'd play in "Inside Man." (More on that in a bit.) Washington's Det. Alonzo Harris takes a rookie cop (Ethan Hawke) for a wild ride on his first day on the job.
Inside Man (2006): For his most recent of four cinematic collaborations with director Spike Lee, Washington plays Det. Keith Frazier, a hostage negotiator who tries to negotiate with a clever bank robber (Clive Owen), whose motivations might not be financially driven. Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe also star.
American Gangster (2007): Washington stars as real-life heroin kingpin Frank Lucas, who built an empire in the '70s while being investigated by a detective (played by Russell Crowe, who rented a Nyack house during filming). Without adjusting for inflation, the movie is the biggest box-office hit of Washington’s career, collecting more than $130 million domestically. Bonus fact: Another one of Washington's co-stars, longtime New Rochelle resident Ruby Dee, earned a supporting-actress Oscar nod for playing Lucas' mother.
Flight (2012): It's easy to lean on Washington's most recent Oscar nomination as a crutch when it comes to creating a “most memorable” list, but how can one forget Washington’s take on a heroic yet alcoholic pilot, who saves a plane from crashing but faces the scrutiny of the ensuing investigation? Bonus fact: Washington's not the only Hudson Valley connection to this movie; the "Flight" screenplay was written by John Gatins, who grew up near Poughkeepsie and attended Vassar College.