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Denzel Washington's Acting Credentials: Awards and Highlights of Storied Career

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2015 04:41 PM

Intense characters — some dancing the line between dark and light, others downright diabolical, and yet others pursuing noble causes — mark Denzel Washington’s depth as an actor that may not suit everyone’s taste. Many of the roles pleased enough palates in Hollywood awards circles to make him one of Tinseltown’s winningest actors.
Washington is entering the fifth decade of his career on the heels of two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, a Tony and dozens of miscellaneous honors and nominations.

Here's a look at his storied career.

1. "Cry Freedom" (1987)

The Oscars first called Washington’s name with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for "Cry Freedom." He played anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko, a role late movie critic Roger Ebert said Washington played with “quiet power."

2. "Glory" (1989)

It was Washington’s turn as an escaped-slave-turned-soldier in the Civil War drama “Glory” that validated the actor’s penchant for poignancy in the form of an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.

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Washington earned high praise in his role as an integral part of the Union Army’s first black unit, nearly decimated in the blood battles.

“The rage caused by ill treatment is searingly incarnated in a great performance by Denzel Washington, as an unbroken runaway slave whose combative relationship with (actor Matthew) Broderick provides the dramatic heart of the film,” Variety wrote in review.

3. "Training Day" (2001)

Washington was honored with a Best Actor Oscar with “Training Day,” a day-in-the-life saga that paired Ethan Hawke’s rookie cop Jake Hoyt with Washington’s Alonzo Harris — a rogue narcotics officer who navigates Los Angeles’ gritty drug scene with alarming law enforcement tactics.

Though Empire magazine writer Chris Hewitt noted the film was “marred by a slightly unsatisfactory climax,” the reviewer hailed the “great performances.”

“However, the film belongs to the swaggering Washington. ... by the time you realize that Harris is up to no good on an almighty scale, your — and Hawke’s — complicity is assured,” Hewitt declared.

4. More Film Honors

Washington’s roles as a human rights activist in “Malcolm X,” a boxer unjustly imprisoned for a triple murder in “The Hurricane” and a talented, but embattled, alcoholic pilot in “Flight” garnered him Best Actor nominations respectively in 1992, 1999, and 2012.

“Hurricane” also earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama” for what New York Times movie critic Stephen Holden described as “an astonishing performance” of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter:

“As the star ‘sings’ the life of his embattled character (who is now 62, free, and living in Canada), it is impossible not to be moved by the depth of a portrayal that suggests the cinematic answer to a performance by Stevie Wonder, Paul Robeson and Bob Dylan (whose protest anthem “The Hurricane” is heard in the movie) rolled into one.”

Washington was also the recipient of numerous accolades and nominations from the MTV Movie Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Satellite Awards, Black Reel Awards, and Screen Actors Guild, and from countless miscellaneous organizations, festivals, and critics’ associations.

5. Stage Honors

Washington’s winning ways have swept the stage, too. The actor won a Tony Award for his lead role in the 2010 Broadway production of August Wilson’s “Fences,” part of a series of race-themed plays set in Pittsburgh.

After Washington won, Time magazine writer Nate Jones mused that he was halfway to possessing the “rare milestone” known as an “EGOT” — an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a  Tony.

Vote Now: Which of These Actors Stands the Test of Time?

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Washington is entering the fifth decade of his career on the heels of two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, a Tony and dozens of miscellaneous honors and nominations. Here's a look at his storied career.
denzel washington, awards, acting, career, highlights
Thursday, 09 April 2015 04:41 PM
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