A Complete Guide to Denzel Washington Movies

This is all you need to navigate the Hollywood icon’s impressive body of work.

Everyone’s original crush Denzel Washington took home the Cecil B. DeMille Award at Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards, and we’re still kvelling over it. Why the Hollywood Foreign Press Association waited this long to give Washington his due shine is beyond us, but our libidos are glad it happened. You’re all thinking it: At 61, Denzel can still get it.

But his hotness isn’t the (main) reason Washington snagged this honor. The two-time Oscar winner has a lush career stacked with hard-hitting crime dramas, feel-good sports movies and even a sappy rom-rom with queen Whitney Houston. Yup. Washington can (and has) done it all.

With all this Globes and Oscar buzz, VH1 is here to help you navigate Washington’s filmography for your inevitable weekend binge. As luck would have it, the Denz has a flick for literally every situation: Netflix and chill, when you’re bored on a plane and when you just want some yummy eye candy to salivate over. (Please see his ’90s films for that.) And don’t think we forgot about the (rare) stinkers—those have its own category and purpose.

Check out where we placed Washington’s movies in the gallery, and tell us your favorite flick in the comments below. (If you say Remember the Titans, you’re officially a wet blanket.)

  • 1 Inside Man
    Universal Pictures
    Category: Netflix and Chill – This thriller will leave you and your N+C date on the edge of your seats, which means blood will be pumping, which means sex.

  • 2 He Got Game
    Touchstone Pictures
    Category: Netflix and Chill – Go beyond the Orange Is the New Black Litchfield walls to watch Denzel take a unique offer in prison while his sexy movie son navigates through the underbelly of basketball in America. Something for everyone.

  • 3 Mo’ Better Blues
    Universal Pictures
    Category: Netflix and Chill If Denzel doesn’t get you hot and bothered for your chill sesh, a smooth jazz-playing Denzel will ignite your forest fire in no time. Get the wine flowing and your pregnancy test ready.

  • 4 The Preacher’s Wife
    Touchstone Pictures
    Category: Netflix and Chill Washington plays an IRL angel/couples therapist in this delightful comedy also starring the late, great Whitney Houston. Both stars will ignite your libidos during their first scene together. *Praise hands. *

  • 5 The Hurricane
    Universal Pictures
    Category: Netflix and Chill This film has two things going for it: It’s inspirational as hell and features a shirtless, actual fighting Washington. What more do you need in a cinematic experience, really?

  • 6 Training Day
    Warner Bros.
    Category: Great One-Liners – If this raw and gritty look at urban crime doesn’t mesmerize you, D’s gut-wrenching monologues will. Seriously, you’ve never been so captivated by the use of “motherf—er.” Life-changing. Use his famous line: “I’m putting cases on all you bitches” when you want to show people who TF is boss.

  • 7 American Gangster
    Category: Great One-Liners – If you didn’t already know Denzel is Hollywood’s OG, American Gangster will confirm. His character Frank Lucas is a chauffeur-turned-boss mobster who delivers epic lines like: “I took care of Harlem, so Harlem is going to take care of me.” And what have you done lately?

  • 8 Flight
    Paramount Pictures
    Category: Great One-Liners – A pilot, who’s also an addict, successfully pulls off a major crash-landing, and his emotional speeches about facing inner struggles will make you drool then cry harder than he does. This line alone should do it for you: “This is going to sound real stupid coming from a man in prison. But for the first time in my life, I’m free.” Yup. I think I just had a serious Shawshank moment.

  • 9 Malcolm X
    40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks
    Category: Great One-Liners – When you get an acting icon to play a historical legend, your screen can barely contain the slay. Did we mention it’s a Spike Lee movie? A Spike Lee movie with quotes like: “The only thing I like integrated is my coffee”? CHILLS.

  • 10 Remember the Titans
    Walt Disney Pictures
    Category: Great One-Liners – You don’t have to be a sports-lover to appreciate this moving flick about a high school football coach who unites his racially-mixed team. Remember when his character schools the little boys to act like men? “I don’t care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.” Boss. And if you don’t cry at some point, then I give up on you.

  • 11 2 Guns
    Universal Pictures
    Category: Denzel Being a Total Badass – Denzel is a DEA agent who’s on a mission to expose a Mexican drug cartel, but with no help from his organization. Kind of like Miss Congeniality, but with drugs, hella guns, mucho cash and Mark Wahlberg.

  • 12 Man on Fire
    Fox 2000 Pictures
    Category: Denzel Being a Total Badass – A man’s need to protect a young Dakota Fanning will tug at your heartstrings, and then the major kick-assery takes over. Like you needed convincing to want Denzel as a bodyguard…

  • 13 John Q
    New Line Cinema
    Category: Denzel Being a Total Badass – When insurance won’t front the bill for a surgery that could save his son’s life, Denzel goes balls to wall crazy and holds an emergency room hostage. Gotta do what you gotta do, you feel me?

  • 14 Safe House
    Relativity Media/Universal Pictures
    Category: Denzel Being a Total Badass – When Denzel makes breaking a neck look as simple as cracking a knuckle, you know you’re in to see some serious outsmarting, car-crashing, ass-kicking s–t.

  • 15 The Equalizer
    Columbia Pictures
    Category: Denzel Being a Total Badass – Think Dexter, but with sexy Denzel handling a gun with no mercy. See what I did there?

  • 16 The Book of Eli
    Warner Bros.
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – Fights! Explosions! Mila Kunis! The Book of Eli may lack substance—and decent special effects—but it has enough dizzying action to keep you entertained on a late-night flight. And you don’t even need booze to get through it.

  • 17 The Pelican Brief
    Warner Bros.
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – Julia Roberts types some government s—t on a computer, and Washington has to save her. The lesson here? Stay out of law school. (Roberts’ crying face is A+, though.)

  • 18 The Taking of Pelham 123
    Columbia Pictures
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – John Travolta and Washington go head-to-head in this white-knuckled flick about your worst fear: public transportation. This is basically an infomercial for staying the hell out of any city.

  • 19 Fallen
    Turner Pictures/Warner Bros.
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – A cursed fallen angel (Azazel) is out to get Washington is this creepy thriller. Basically, the demon can pass from body to body on contact. Hope you’re not on a crowded flight. Oh yeah, if you’re Catholic, please avoid.

  • 20 The Manchurian Candidate
    Paramount Pictures
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – Conspiracies! Government conspiracies! You’ll want to literally jump off the plane after watching this because you’ll think your pilot is plotting your demise with The Man…or you might want to hide out underMeryl Streep ‘s brown bob.

  • 21 Out of Time
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – This steamy crime thriller features Eva Mendes, a super shady Sanaa Lathan and Washington in a Hawaiian suit. Plus…a house blows up! There’s your flight right there.

  • 22 The Siege
    Twentieth Century Fox
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – Washington and Annette Bening fight terrorism—and an orgasmic Bruce Willis–in this air-tight political drama. Come for the bloody action. Stay for Bruce’s eyes.

  • 23 De Ja Vu
    Touchstone Pictures
    Category: If You’re Bored on a Plane – Its whimsical plot—Denzel literally travels back in time to save a woman from being murdered—that will keep you hooked long after they stop serving the peanuts. We 100 percent guarantee you’ll start talking to strangers like they’re your gals after this romp.

  • 24 Courage Under Fire
    Twentieth Century Fox
    Category: Eye Candy Moments Washington goes on a two-hour investigation to prove Meg Ryan is queen of the mother-effing military. And he does it like a real boss!

  • 25 Crimson Tide
    Hollywood Pictures
    Category: Eye Candy Moments A hot, young Washington does hot military things in this hot film. That’s all you need to know, really.

  • 26 Devil in a Blue Dress
    TriStar Pictures
    Category: Eye Candy Moments Everyone is sexy in this film, especially Washington’s mustache.

  • 27 Mississippi Masala
    Black River
    Category: Eye Candy Moments Washington has a steamy interracial affair with an Indian woman ( Sarita Choudhury ), which leads to high-tensions in their small Mississippi town. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have phone sex with Washington, check this out.

  • 28 Ricochet
    Category: Eye Candy Moments What we know is that Denzel pissed off an ex-con who’s out for revenge. All we saw though was Mr. Washington in boxers with abs on fleek.

  • 29 The Mighty Quinn
    A&M Films/MGM
    Category: Don’t Even Waste Your Time – The terrible Jamaican accents and suspect premise here is hardly worth your 98 minutes. We imagine the best part of making this movie was the picturesque beach life in Port Antonio, Jamaica, the rum punch and weed.

  • 30 The Bone Collector
    Columbia Pictures/Universal
    Category: Don’t Even Waste Your Time – Here’s another case where Hollywood put two super talented actors (Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie) together gave them a suspect script and it turned out to be some bullsh-t.

  • 31 Carbon Copy
    RKO Pictures
    Category: Don’t Even Waste Your Time – Denzel Washington made his film debut in this 1981 film and the best thing about it, he was able to get work after it. Unless, of course, you’re into comedies with weird racial undertones that feed silly stereotypes about Black people.

  • 32 Heart Condition
    New Line Cinema
    Category: Don’t Even Waste Your Time – Hollywood had a thing for making light of society’s racial issues and Denzel Washington found himself acting in a few of those films. Here, a racist white cop receives a heart transplant from a Black lawyer he hates. Then is haunted by the ghost of said lawyer. Nope. Not here for it.

  • 33 Virtuosity
    Paramount Pictures
    Category: Don’t Even Waste Your Time – Under normal circumstances a movie starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe would be an instant lituation. Nope, not here. This 1995 sci-fi thriller was a straight struggle from beginning to end. If you want to see a black cop (Denzel) take on a villainous computer system gone rouge (Russell), then just watch Will Smith in I Robot. Better yet, if you want to see these two Academy Award winning actors under a better light, order up American Gangster.

  • 34 Unstoppable
    Twentieth Century Fox
    Category: Don’t Even Waste Your Time – If you haven’t noticed already, Denzel Washington likes to remix his movies. This right here is his second attempt at a premise of a man doing all he can to stop a runaway train. Do yourself a favor and just watch The Taking of Pelham 123.

  • 35 Philadelphia
    TriStar Pictures
    Category: It’s Going to Make You Cry – Watching this film its really not a matter of when you’ll cry, but how many times you’ll shed tears. Denzel plays a homophobic lawyer who helps a gay man (Tom Hanks) stricken with AIDS fight back against the evil law firm that fired him. Washington and Hanks both played the hell out of their roles.

  • 36 Glory
    TriStar Pictures
    Category: It’s Going to Make You Cry – No doubt one of Denzel’s greatest roles ever. He took home an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) in 1990 for his portrayal of a rebellious escaped slave turned solider in the Civil War classic. Please buckle up for this emotional rollercoaster.

  • 37 Cry Freedom
    Universal Pictures
    Category: It’s Going to Make You Cry – The only issue with this film is that its over two hours long. Like seriously, you’ll be an emotional wreck by the end. Spoiler Alert: Denzel plays anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko who dies while in police custody. Hmmm. Feels just as relevant today as it did 17 years ago when the film was released.

  • 38 Antwone Fisher
    Fox Searchlight Pictures
    Category: It’s Going to Make You Cry – Denzel Washington got behind the lens to direct this dark drama based on the true story of a navy man (Derek Luke) who battles demons from a painful childhood during therapy sessions. It’s deep, y’all. You’ll probably be in your feelings for a couple days after watching this.

  • 39 The Great Debaters
    Harpo Films
    Category: It’s Going to Make You Cry – Here’s another true story that Denzel pulled double duty on as actor and director. This time he used the brilliance of an all-Black debate team that goes up against Ivy League goliaths during the Jim Crow era to mess with our emotions.