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10 Denzel Washington Old School Movies That You Need To See

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Denzel Washington has a new blockbuster movie out called “The Equalizer”. “The Equalizer” is based on the 80s TV series of the same title. It’s on my list to see. I don’t even have to know what it about, because I know already that if Denzel is in it, it is good. Without fail, at least one of his movies make my top 15 lists of “Greatest Movies Ever”. I think there needs to be a list called “Favorite Denzel Movies Ever”

Denzel Washington old school movies must see

photo credit: GabboT via photopin cc

In case you are relatively new to Denzel’s body of work, let me remind you of ten of Denzel Movies that you need to see to appreciate this American treasure.

1. Glory

Hands down when asked about Denzel, if “Glory” does not come up in the conversation, you really are not a fan. Remember that one tear? Love this movie and the lessons it taught. This was Denzel’s first Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (1990).

2. Malcolm X
The year was 1992. I am telling my age, but I saw this with a group of friends in a theater in Opelika, AL. We made it an event. I read the autobiography before hand and was amped to see this all unfold. Spike Lee received major criticism for bringing Malcolm X’s story to the big screen. But us college students were super excited to see this work, especially with Denzel playing the lead. I remember complete silence in the theater for the entire 2+ hours. It was as if Denzel transformed before our eyes. We hung on to every single scene and tried to analyze it afterwords as intellectual 20 somethings would do. I may even re-watch this with my older sons.

3. Training Day
The year was 2002. I was in the hospital in pre-term labor when Halle Berry and Denzel both won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively. While “Training Day” depicted Denzel in a role that I was not used to seeing, it definitely showed his range. Ethan Hawke definitely witnessed a master while filming.

4. Pelican Brief
While this movie is based on John’ Grisham’s novel of the same title, (affiliate link), I enjoyed the movie equally as much as I enjoyed the book. Julia Roberts and Denzel in the same movie is a great ride. This is just a fun whodunit and I recommend you check it out.

5. John Q
While visiting with family over Labor Day weekend, I learned that in the UK, the movie “John Q” is shown in public policy classes in universities to show the progression of the health care system in the United States. Didn’t know that Denzel was also viewed in the classroom. This is a film that always makes you question how far you truly would go to save your own child.

And I found, completely by accident, that Walmart agrees with part of my list. Check out this triple pack on Blue Ray.

6. Devil In A Blue Dress
Another Denzel movie based on New York Time’s Best Seller Devil in a Blue Dress: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley, this movie is set in post World War II Los Angeles. I love the ebb and flow of this film, especially with Jennifer Beale and Don Cheadle. It really gives you the feel of those old Bogart films of the past. This time Jennifer Beale as Lauren Bacall and Denzell as Bogart. Check it out.

7. Remember The Titans
On some of the same themes as “Glory” only set in the 1970s, “Remember The Titans” this time shows the inspirational side of unity. My husband and I love this movie and never get tired of seeing it.

8. Mo’ Better Blues
Another Spike Lee Joint. In the 90s, Denzel and Spike Lee put out some gems of movies and Mo’ Better Blues does not disappoint. In fact, I think the soundtrack was even a little be better than the movie, but I still love to watch it because in this one Denzel had pure swagger.

Read: 5 Old School Soundtracks That Are Better Than The Movie

9. Philadelphia
Denzel Washington AND Tom Hanks together in the same movie. This movie touched and still touches on so many taboo subjects. When I saw it at the theater, it really made me think and sympathize with both parties. This was filmed during a time when HIV/AIDS was rampant and controlling the disease was non existent. Denzel never shies away from the tough role. Worth seeing again.

10. The Preacher’s Wife
Would you want Denzel to be your guardian angel? Oh my. This movie was a fun girls night out when I saw it in the theater (in what seems like a life time ago). And if you love Gospel music, this soundtrack is Whitney Houston at her best. Love Denzel in this fun role. A definite favorite to watch during the holiday season.

Read 16 Old School Holiday Movies You Need To See


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I know I missed quite a few, but that’s where I leave it to you. What Denzel movie would you recommend? And share your thoughts on “The Equalizer” too. Did you like it? Leave a comment.

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