The surprisingly excellent Safe House, so far, has brought in global revenues to over $100 million. He’s become Hollywood’s most reliable action-film asset not named Liam Neeson.
His action-movie career has proven to be so lucrative that it threatens to overshadow his dramatic career – a shame, because that’s where he does his best work. So, with his recent success, we’ve decided to rank Mr. Washington’s five best performances. Disagree? Let us know!
#5 – HE GOT GAME – Spike Lee’s 1998 film exploring the world of college basketball isn’t as great as it could have been, but it’s Washington who steadies the film with his lead performance. Washington’s Jake Shuttlesworth, the jailbird father to basketball prodigy Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) is a tragic, gripping and charismatic figure; their playground showdown is one of the cinematic highlights of the 1990s.
#4 – DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS – It’s a shame that the movie flopped at the box office, because this adaptation of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rollins detective novel is a stylish, captivating thriller, with a charming lead performance by Washington as Rollins. Watch out for a creepily entertaining Don Cheadle as Rollins’ violent cohort.
#3 – GLORY – Washington won his first Oscar for his powerful performance as escaped slave Trip in this entertaining 1989 Edward Zwick Civil War drama, the story of the first all African-American unit in American military history. This sprawling epic still holds up as one of the greatest war films ever made.
#2 – MALCOLM X – It’s an absolute wonder Washington didn’t win the Best Actor Oscar for his remarkable portrayal of the civil rights leader in this 1992 film – the best picture Spike Lee has ever made. His assassination scene is absolutely chilling.
#1 – TRAINING DAY – There’s no doubt what #1 is. Washington is at his charismatic best as terrifying cop Alonzo Harris, leading his naïve charge Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) through a violent “training day” on the L.A. streets. This Academy Award-winning performance – a departure from his usual good-guy roles- proved, finally, that Washington really could do anything on screen.