I Ranked EVERY Denzel Washington Movie And I'm Sure This Is Going To Cause Some Controversy

Denzel Washington is one of the greatest to ever do it!

Samuel L Jackson, Denzel Washington and John David Washington

Lists like this are impossible to do because there are so many incredible performances and movies from Denzel. But I'm here to do the impossible and cook up the rankings of every Denzel Movie from the 1980s to the 2020s

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50.Virtuosity (1995)

Denzel pointing a gun

For a Denzel and Russell Crowe movie, you'll expect this to be good but it's just not. Virtual Reality in the '90s mixed in with an imprisoned cop who later becomes a hero is not a plot I enjoyed.


49.Carbon Copy (1981)

Denzel as a lost son

Carbon Copy is about a white man who is an executive for his father-in-law's company with a wife who does not love him when all of a sudden his illegitimate Black son enters his life and everything around him breaks down. This film was Denzel's acting debut, but definitely not a favorite of mine.

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48.For Queen & Country (1988)

Denzel standing tall

This movie follows a Black British soldier who, after nine years of war, comes back to not being a citizen anymore. Solid movie but not compared to the rest on this list.


47.License to Kill (1984)

Denzel Washington, poses for a portrait circa 1989

This film deals with a drunk driving murder and is pretty somber. A young Denzel shows off his skills, but overall, just not for me.

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46.The Preacher's Wife (1996)

Denzel and Whitney Houston

Denzel plays an angel in this movie where he helps a preacher out with some struggles he's having. Could be a lot better, and it has some plot holes. I just don't prefer it.


45.Power (1986)

Denzel in a still in "Power"

This movie, to some, seems like a realistic view of the political consulting industry, and very rightfully so. I agree. However, the movie has many subplots and characters that are not needed, taking significant time away from the good stuff.


44.Heart Condition (1990)

Denzel In NYC

Denzel plays a cool lawyer who dies and has his heart placed into a racist cop, who now can see and interact with him. Meh.


43.The George McKenna Story (1986)

Denzel in a black and white photo

After Denzel blew up in fame, the name of this film was changed to Hard Lessons. It lays the groundwork for Denzel to pick up other "tough love teacher/coach" roles in the future.

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42.The Bone Collector (1999)

Angelina Jolie and Denzel

Denzel, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Latifah all had wonderful performances in a pretty forgetful movie and plot overall.


41.The Mighty Quinn (1989)

Denzel Washington playing a cop

This is a lightweight and fun movie based on the book Finding Maubee by Albert H. Z. Carr. Denzel plays a police chief who has to figure out a homicide case where the main suspect is a childhood friend of his.


40.The Siege (1998)

Bruce Willis head to head with Denzel Washington

An entertaining what-if thriller that many thought was flawed until it became reality, in a way, years later.


39.The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Denzel as a member of the "Magnificent Seven"

This movie follows seven gunmen from different walks of life in a western, and let's just say Denzel was not on his A-game, but his performance was still needed to carry this film.


38.Safe House (2012)

Denzel playing Dirty CIA agent.

Washington playing a CIA operative gone rogue alongside Ryan Reynolds is something that sounds like a joy, but not this time. Pretty mediocre movie.


37.2 Guns (2013)

Mark and Denzel

This is a pretty fun movie that executes some very well-timed plot twists. Mark Wahlberg and Denzel play "buddy cops" in a movie that showcased the chemistry both men have with each other.

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36.The Little Things (2021)

Denzel playing a cop again

This thriller pairs Denzel with Rami Malek and Jared Leto. The twist and ending are kind of a letdown, but overall the film was enjoyable.


35.The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

Denzel as a Subway dispatcher

Denzel plays a New York City subway dispatcher who has to outsmart John Travolta's character, a mastermind leading a ransom on the NY subway. This remake was cool even though Travolta outshines Washington.

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34.Ricochet (1991)

Denzel Washington points a gun in a scene from the film 'Ricochet',

Ricochet is a genuinely suspenseful film that sees Washington play a media-star rookie cop who put away a killer that escapes and plots revenge on him.

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33.The Pelican Brief (1993)

Julia Roberts

Considered one of the best political dramas of all time, I would say I mostly enjoyed it for Julia Roberts (who requested that Denzel be her co-star in this film)

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32.Roman J. Isreal, Esq. (2017)

Denzel in one of his latest movies

This movie has a lot of pockets that it can fit into as it was somewhat a character study and somewhat a legal thriller but honestly, Denzel Washington's performance here is the only thing worth noting — one of his last great ones.


31.Courage Under Fire (1996)

actors Denzel Washington and Lou Diamond Phillips, a movie still from 'Courage under Fire

This military drama is honestly great. Denzel Washington's performance as Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Serling is masterly. The way he deals with facing the guilt he has is thought-proving.

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30.John Q (2002)

Denzel playing a father desperate to save son

Denzel plays a father whose nine-year-old son is in desperate need of a life-saving transplant after collapsing on the baseball field. This a movie with a great underlying message.


29.Out of Time (2003)

Denzel as a bad guy

This movie has twist after twist. Without giving too much away, Denzel plays a cop who finds himself falling for a con artist woman while also dealing with a separation from his wife. A must-watch for sure!


28.The Book of Eli (2010)

Denzel in Book of Eli

Every time I see this movie it reminds me of Will Smith's role in I Am Legend. It's just so similar to me I can't get over it. A great film, but hard for me to shake.


27.Déjà Vu (2006)

American actor Denzel Washington on the set of Deja Vu,

Deja Vu follows an ATF agent who goes back in time to save a terrorist attack from happening by using secret surveillance equipment. The agent's motive comes from seeing 500 people die from the attack including someone he falls in love with.

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26.Unstoppable (2010)

Denzel in the thriller "Unstoppable"

This film was Denzel's last movie with longtime collaborator and director Tony Scott. Both Scott and Washington do a wonderful job filling this film with tension despite this being one of the simpler plots on this list. A great movie with an outstanding performance from Chris Pine as well.


25.Fallen (1998)


Fallen is one of those movies that depict how evil the world can be. It follows Denzel, a cop who is haunted by a demon who can transfer bodies by touch. Honestly, this is one of the most underrated Denzel flicks of all time.


24.The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Denzel Washington

Denzel plays a military man who is brainwashed into committing crimes and is fighting for his sanity. This remake was everything and more.

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23.The Equalizer (2014) / The Equalizer II (2018)

Denzel in both Equalizer 1 and 2

The series follows a hardware store employee in the first movie and a Lyft driver in the second (Washington) who was once a black ops government operative who helps his prostitute teenage friend escape from her pimp and seeks revenge for a murdered friend.


22.A Soldier's Story (1984)

Denzel in one of his first roles

Washington was actually a supporting character in this wonderfully executed murder mystery movie based in the Louisiana backwoods.


21.Antwone Fisher (2002)

Derek Luke and Denzel

Washington's directorial debut sees a troubled man in the Navy played by Derek Luke who finds a mentor (Washington) and turns his life around.


20.Cry Freedom (1987)


Cry Freedom is a biopic that takes place during South African apartheid and follows activist Steve Biko. The movie is more about the newspaper editor, Donald Woods, and we see that once Biko dies in the film.

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19.Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Denzel still from 'Much Ado about Nothing',

Much Ado About Nothing is a film adaptation of William Shakespeare's comedic play of the same title. This was Washington's silliest acting performance which was a joy to look back at after all the serious or hero roles he took on later.

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18.The Hurricane (1999)

Denzel in Hurricane

This is one of the all-time greats! It's a great sports drama about a boxer jailed for murders he didn’t commit. This might be Washington's best performance in the '90s.

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17.Flight (2012)

Washington plays an pilot with a liquor addiction

Washington plays a pilot who struggles with alcoholism and deals with the heroic feat of flying a damaged plane in a nice redemption story arc.


16.The Great Debaters (2007)

Denzel playing a Debate Coach

Using the classic sports movie formula, this movie follows an underdog debate team from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas that wins a national championship while overcoming some of the hardships caused by Jim Crow laws.


15.Inside Man (2006)

Denzel as a Police man

This movie is another Spike Lee and Washington effort that is different than the rest by being a high-octane action-thriller. Very good watch with exciting bank-robbing action and dialect from Clive Owen.


14.Mississippi Masala (1991)

Sarita Choudhury is held by Denzel Washington

The movie follows an Indian family who is forced to emigrate from Uganda to Mississippi. The father of the family is petitioning Uganda for taking his stolen land, while his daughter falls for Washington. Their interracial relationship causes a stir in this heartfelt and hard-hitting classic.

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13.Crimson Tide (1995)

Denzel and Gene Hackman

Crimson Tide was a submarine drama that can basically be summed up with Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman giving us an acting class on how a veteran and up-and-comer in lead roles should act.

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12.Philadelphia (1993)

Actors Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington on the set of the Tri Star movie " Philadelphia"

This might be Washington's most serious drama to date. In a time when the news was dominated by Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson's AIDS headlines, a lawyer is fired due to having AIDS (Tom Hanks) and he hires an anti-gay lawyer (Washington) to defend him bringing depth to the AIDS conversation on the big screen.

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11.Man on Fire (2004)

Denzel as John Creasy

I love a good "rampage of revenge" movie, especially when kidnapping is involved. Washington plays an ex-marine who is hired by industrialist Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) to find his daughter. Classic.

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10.American Gangster (2007)

Denzel Washington is on the beach at Coney Island where he is filming scenes for his new movie "American Gangster."

Before I talk about the movie, Jay-Z doing the soundtrack was a perfect decision that made this a stop-in-amazement moment for the culture. The movie is about the '70s Harlem legend and drug lord, Frank Lucas, and how cop Richie Roberts was the right man to take him down.

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9.Mo' Better Blues (1990)

Denzel Washington plays a trumpet

This movie had to follow up Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing which is an undeniable classic. It was a hard job but it was a job well done indeed from Lee and Washington. Washington plays a blues musician who is juggling two women that bring out two completely different sides of him.

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8.The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Denzel in Tragedy of Macbeth

Washington plays an antihero here in Joel Coen's fiery adaptation of Macbeth. The movie is a very compact version of the play and should be a favorite Shakespearean film adaptation for fans.


7.He Got Game (1998)

Denzel and Ray Allen

Spike Lee and Washington worked as a unit and brought out a wonderful acting debut for NBA player Ray Allen. This movie is a unique one that can bring out good responses from sports fans and regular movie critics alike.

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6.Devil In a Blue Dress (1995)

Denzel in 1995

I love a movie that takes very old conventions and adds new spins to update them. Devil in a Blue Dress recreates a '40s atmosphere, very rich and poetic just like Washington's voiceover.

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5.Fences (2016)

Actors Viola Davis and Denzel Washington

All six main characters shine in this film. One who knocked it out the park, in particular, was debuting film actor, Jovan Adepo. I give Denzel tons of credit for Adepo's performance because you can see him elevating every time both men shared the screen.

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4.Remember The Titans (2000)

Remember The Titans team

Simply put, I never met anyone that had something bad to say about this movie. Is it a bit predictable at times, yes, but who cares! It's an E for everyone sports drama that's the right mix of emotional and exciting.

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3.Glory (1989)

Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman

This is the movie we see Denzel win his very first Oscar. Denzel throughout the movie showed his promise. Civil War movies with great storytelling need great actors. Denzel and Morgan Freeman provided that.

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2.Malcolm X (1992)

Denzel as Malcolm X

"Once in a Lifetime" director Spike Lee's most acclaimed film is featuring a "Once in a Lifetime" actor, Denzel, playing a "Once in a Lifetime" political figure, Malcolm X. This led to us seeing Denzel Washington's personal best movie performance.

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1.Training Day (2001)

Ethan Hawke staring at Denzel

This right here is the performance in my childhood that made me put Denzel at the top of that upper echelon of actors. In other Denzel movies before this one, he tended to play the more good guy characters. The plot in this one set us up to believe this was another thriller of more of the same thing, but the more we watch the more we realize detective Alonzo Harris, played by Denzel, was a SICKO. Denzel thrived as this undercover monster that's portraying a good guy. The entire cast and the writing here also makes Training Day top tier.

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Which Denzel movie is your favorite? Do you agree with my rankings? Let me know in the comments below!