Is Denzel Washington’s performance in “Flight” better than what he did in “Training Day”? He is constantly wasted in “Flight,” and that makes him scary. The movie has an amazing plane crash in its opening act, but the real suspense comes from Denzel’s performance. We want him to pull through, to be healthy and safe. But he’s lost himself. It’s a really good movie.
Probably a better movie than “Training Day.” But is it a better Denzel? Hard to imagine. His character Alonzo in that flick is a villainous classic, a dirty cop feared by even the gangsters. Then again, what about “American Gangster”?
Or “Glory”? Watched that movie lately? Angry and brave in the face of oppression and the Civil War, he’s totally inspiring. “Glory” is an almost-forgotten classic.
It’s a fun debate. You can do the same with Morgan Freeman. Think about it: What’s the best Morgan Freeman? “Shawshank Redemption,” right? But what about “Unforgiven”? Or “Seven”? He was so good in both those. He won an Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby.” Maybe that’s the best Morgan Freeman.
Tom Hanks. “Flight” is to Denzel what “Cast Away” was for Tom Hanks. (Same director: Robert Zemeckis.) Can “Cast Away” possibly be Hanks’s best performance when he won back-to-back Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump”? Remember how amazingly good he was in “Saving Private Ryan,” as a school teacher whose hands shake, leading men into huge deadly battles?
Brad Pitt’s a good one. My favorite Brad Pitt is “Fight Club.” He totally gives that movie its swagger, and “Fight Club” will hold up forever. But he owned “Moneyball” as a Major League general manager who juggle dozens of weird personalities by mixing toughness and confidence. “12 Monkeys” got him an Oscar nomination, and he was awesome in “Inglourious Basterds.” And how about “Troy”? Just kidding.
What’s the best Russell Crowe? “Gladiator” is. But anyone with spirit could totally argue for any one of the following: “3:10 to Yuma,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “The Insider,” “Cindererlla Man.” You could even go O.G. and say “L.A. Confidential.” Remember how tough he was, smashing a chair with his hands and then busting into the interrogation room?
It’s a fun game, and we should celebrate whenever a great actors comes out with another classic performance. Just remember that Daniel Day-Lewis is too good for these frivolous little debates. *Cough*”There Will Be Blood!”*Cough*