Today, the legendary actor, director and actor Denzel Washington again became the most nominated Black actor in the history of the Academy Awards following the announcement of the 2022 Oscars Nominations.
Washington received a Best Actor nomination for his performance in the lead role in A24’s The Tragedy of Macbeth – scoring his tenth overall, and first since 2018’s Roman J. Israel, Esq. Throughout his storied career, Denzel has built a reputation as a powerful and passionate actor known for his unique improvisation skills, and the remarkable ability to remain a power player in the entertainment industry for over 40 years.
In 1988, Denzel earned his first Oscar nod for his portrayal of Steve Biko in Cry Freedom. Since then, he has been nominated nine more times, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Check out our list of Denzel’s Academy Award-nominated performances throughout the years.
Steve Biko – ‘Cry Freedom’ (1988)
Washington’s performance as Steve Biko in 1987’s epic drama film Cry Freedom, gave the up-and-coming actor his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Although he didn’t go home with the gold, he gave many their first introduction to his keen acting talent.
Private Silas Trip – ‘Glory’ (1990)
Glory – 1989’s war film about the Union Army’s first African-American unit in the American Civil War – was nominated for five Oscars. One of which earned Washington his first Academy Award for his portrayal as the fiery Private Silas Trip. His climatic “tear drop” scene still remains one of the most powerful moments in cinematic history.
Malcolm X – ‘Malcolm X’ (1993)
Released in 1992, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X served as a catapult for Washington’s career. Denzel played the iconic civil rights martyr in amazing fashion and laid the groundwork that would lead to his first nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Al Pacino would ultimately win, but it solidified Denzel as one of Hollywood’s most talented actors.
Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter – ‘The Hurricane’ (2000)
Many feel that Denzel should have won this year for his portrayal as Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter. This film also showed his versatility as an actor – he got in great shape to play the middleweight boxer. Outside of the phenomenal acting, The Hurricane also shed light on the high number of wrongful convictions that plague people of color to this day.
Alonzo Harris – ‘Training Day’ (2002)
Washington played the villain role perfectly in 2001’s Training Day alongside Ethan Hawke. He brought the crooked LAPD narcotics officer Alonzo Harris to life and provide us with the classic line: “King Kong ain’t got s*** on me!” Washington won his first Best Actor Oscar, and the first Black man to win the award since Sidney Poitier.
William “Whip” Whitaker – ‘Flight’ (2013)
Over 10 years would pass between Denzel’s nominations for Training Day and Flight, but his performance as Whip Whitaker would be one of his best. He plays an alcoholic airline pilot who miraculously crash-lands his plane after a mechanical failure, saving nearly everyone on board, but soon learns the consequences of life’s decisions.
Troy Maxson – ‘Fences’ (2017)
2016’s Fences brought Denzel’s legend to another level. Throughout the film, he showed why he was among the film industry’s greatest of all time. His powerful scenes alongside Viola Davis and Jovan Adepo were both beautiful and heartbreaking.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. – ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ (2018)
In what was an escape from some of Denzel’s previous roles, Roman J. Israel, Esq. followed the life of an idealistic defense lawyer (Washington) who finds himself in a series of events that led to a personal crisis and the necessity for extreme action. Although the film received mixed reviews from critics, Denzel was in rare form.
Lord Macbeth – ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ (2021)
Denzel’s performance as Lord Macbeth in last year’s The Tragedy of Macbeth earned him his ninth Oscar nomination as an actor, and his 10th overall.