Career Peak – The point in an actor, actress or director’s career when they have given their best performance, reaching a point they will probably never match again!
The idea is to examine a person’s film or television career and decide when their career peak was; the moment that they gave their best performance or produced their best work. This could be with their first movie; it could also be yet to come. It’s designed to spark friendly debate too so if you don’t agree (or do, which would also be good) then feel free to check them out and add your opinion.
Not many people can boast a career as impressive as Denzel Washington’s. He is a heavyweight acting legend and has some of the most iconic films and performances in cinema. Many people can cite at least one Washington movie in their top ten, some may even have more and he doesn’t seem to be stopping. His Career Peak seems quite obvious but it inches ahead of some other classic movies.
Denzel Washington: Career Peak – Training Day
It is easy to choose Training Day as Denzel Washington’s Career Peak but not just because it won him the much deserved Oscar. This was the movie where all the acting talent, the charisma, the screen-presence and the intensity paid off. From beginning to end, Denzel Washington owns the screen in Training Day and doesn’t relent, being the best part of that movie by a long way.
It also helps that he was the villain. Until that moment, Washington had made a career of being of the hero. Not always the action hero but the man willing to stand-up for others, his beliefs or just himself. Early roles like Malcolm X, Glory, Philadelphia and Crimson Tide catapulted him into the heroic limelight, representing the downtrodden or standing against authority.
Washington wasn’t willing to stop there though. Drama had served him well but sport would do him one better. A triple-threat of iconic sport films would land him a new audience and a very strange direction, with He Got Game, The Hurricane and Remember the Titans showing he could be player and coach in equal footing.
Training Day would be the film that would make him though. Many people felt he deserved the Oscar earlier in his career and that Training Day wasn’t the movie he should have got the sought after award for but it would become his crowning moment. Washington would be the best as a villain, giving a performance many would mimic, imitate but rarely match.
It also marked a change in Washington’s career. When many were applauding the move into action later in the career for people like Liam Neeson, it had become easy to forget that Washington had already made that move. He showed his action chops in Man on Fire, Deja-Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123 and The Book of Eli.
His more recent output has been more in favour of the fun, mindless popcorn blockbuster but that isn’t a criticism. Washington doesn’t always make classic and incredible movies but he also doesn’t make bad ones, with films like Unstoppable, 2 Guns and The Magnificent Seven having a lot going for them.
He can also show potential in the dramatic movies too, Flight seeming to dip the toe back into the early waters which made him so iconic in the first place.
Overall, Denzel Washington’s Career Peak may have been Training Day but he is far from past his best. Washington is clearly having fun, creating fun movies which show he is still believable as an action star later in his age.