First off, let me wish Denzel Washington a happy birthday. The legendary actor has turned 62 today and social media is in a frenzy about which movie is his Magnum Opus. This had me doing the proper research about Denzel’s lengthy career to break down each movie and come to a decision of what is my Magnum Opus.
So I went through his whole filmography and decided that these five will be the argument I’ll try to make for Magnum Opus.
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“Aww, you motherf***ers. Okay. Alright. I’m putting cases on all you bitches. Huh. You think you can do this shit… Jake. You think you can do this to me? You motherf***ers will be playing basketball in Pelican Bay when I get finished with you. Shoe program, nigga. 23 hour lockdown. I’m the man up in this piece. You’ll never see the light of… who the f*** do you think you’re f***ing with? I’m the police, I run shit around here. You just live here. Yeah, that’s right, you better walk away. Go on and walk away… ’cause I’m gonna’ burn this motherf***er down. King Kong ain’t got shit on me.” Monologues in movies are a great way for actors to put their talents on display, and this monologue from Denzel put him on another plateau. Releasing in 2001, there aren’t many movies to come after that still has the effect of a more memorable monologue than this and not to mention how greatly written and directed the film Training Day was.
Shot by Spike Lee, Malcolm X had to be as polarizing and bold as the man was. The life of Malcolm in itself was a story to be told. A pimp named Detroit Red, turned into a voice of the Black and Muslim community. Denzel’s performance in Malcolm X is one of the greatest biopics of any actor in history.
Coach Boone of T.C. Williams High School had one hell of an objective when brought in to coach a football, who’s been on the losing end of other teams in the area. He not only was asked to change the losing culture of the team but also to ease the transition of a newly integrated school and community while attempting to win. I’ve always said Denzel in any movie has better parenting skills then Bill Cosby who was crowned Americas Dad after his hit show The Cosby show in the late 80’s. Coach Boone taught high school boys not to only play better football as team no matter what race you are, but to be lifelong friends and judge people by their character as a human being. Although, Coach Yoast stole the standout monologue of the movie, Denzel’s performance made it a special movie.
By now, you should see the formula on how I chose which Denzel movies are the best. Playing a mentor/father-figure role with a legendary monologue that dramatically separates him from the rest of the cast and in The Great Debaters he nails all criteria needed to be on this list.
Frank Lucas, one of Harlem’s biggest drug dealers takes the last mention for Magnum Opus. Alongside Russel Crowe, Denzel is a drug kingpin in the uprising of a New York City borough Harlem. He recruits his family for his drug operation and lives a lavish lifestyle. Sticking to morals and values learned from his mentor Bumpy Johnson, Frank gives lessons and jewels one can take from the movies and instill it in your everyday life. Always remember if you want to be a low key drug kingpin, don’t wear a matching chinchilla with your wife ringside at a boxing fight.
OK; now since we’ve narrowed it to five, it’s time to choose which movie is his Magnum Opus. I made John Q an honorable mention because although Denzel’s performance was Magnum Opus like, the movie in itself was 1-dimensional and no other performance stood up to Denzel. I would have to choose Training Day as his Magnum Opus. The performance in that movie awarded Denzel with an Best-Actor Oscar award and that legendary monologue is still relevant til this day.
If there are movies you’d like to argue/critiques of my list. Comment below.