Monday, April 22, 2024

Denzel Washington Jumps to Top of Oscar List–Despite Himself


This is the year no actors want to get an Oscar. It’s a new world, ain’t it? Joaquin Phoenix, so good in “The Master,” rubbished the whole process recently in a magazine interview. Daniel Day Lewis, aka “Lincoln,” does very little to help himself ever. And now Denzel Washington has opened in “Flight” and rocketed right to the top of the list of possible winners. Last night “Flight” opened in 1,884 theaters — still hundreds of theaters are closed, and less than 2,000 is not a wide release– took in over $8 million. A $22 million weekend for a serious film is excellent–and the movie has suffered from Hurricane Sandy.

But as Denzel, who won his last Oscar in 2002 for “Training Day,” vaults to the top of the list, he also is a reluctant participant. At the New York Film Festival he skipped his own premiere party. He also avoided a big digital print junket. He did little on the red carpet. On stage he stood in the background. Since then he’s continued to be low profile. A little too low profile if he wants to win. Of course, with two Oscars, he may not care.

Anyway, it’s so good to see Robert Zemeckis score with “Flight.” It’s a solid studio film, well made, with outstanding ingredients. The opening scenes of the plane in free fall are breathtaking. But later, Washington and the entire supporting cast are just note for note spot on. And Zemeckis never lets up or gives Denzel an out. My favorite scene is Tamara Tunie, as the flight attendant who’s known him the longest– telling Denzel’s pilot that she knows his history and isn’t letting him get away with it. Again. solid.

So watch “Flight” takes its place in a list that includes Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, The Master, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Lincoln, maybe Rust and Bone, and maybe — from what I’m hearing– Hitchcock. And don’t forget my new Best Supporting Actor possibility– Javier Bardem in “Skyfall.” No kidding.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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