Praise of Denzel Washington Pouring in for Flight

From Roger Ebert:

After opening with one of the most terrifying flying scenes I’ve witnessed, in which an airplane is saved by being flown upside down, Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight” segues into a brave and tortured performance by Denzel Washington — one of his very best. Not often does a movie character make such a harrowing personal journey that keeps us in deep sympathy all of the way.

Denzel Washington is one of the most sympathetic and rock-solid of actors, and it’s effective here how his performance never goes over the top but instead is grounded on obsessive control. There are many scenes inviting emotional displays. A lesser actor might have wanted to act them out. Washington depends on his eyes, his manner and a gift for projecting inner emotion. In the way it meets every requirement of a tricky plot, this is an ideal performance.

EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum:

Played by Denzel Washington in one of the great performances of his commanding career, Whip is used to coasting on his tremendous talent and considerable charm, proud of his ability to “manage” his drinking and drugging. But during the investigation that follows the event, he engages in some desperate steering to postpone his own crash landing. How the man veers and buzzes, his cocky pride scrambling more and more wearily to outrun the truth, makes for a powerful and layered action thriller.

NY Times’ Manohla Dargis:

It’s no surprise that “Flight” has salvation in mind. The shock is how deep Mr. Zemeckis and Mr. Washington journey into the abyss and how long they stay there. It can be tough for stars to play such unrepentantly compromised characters, as Mr. Washington does brilliantly here. Most charm up their villains, thinning the venality with charisma and winks at the camera; in “Training Day,” as a seductively corrupt cop, Mr. Washington’s magnetism made a mockery of the story’s moral posturing. There’s no such falsity in “Flight.” The inevitable redemption doesn’t erase what happened or ease the pain, and the performance remains astonishingly true to Whip’s harrowing aloneness and its cost. Once again, you can’t take your eyes off Mr. Washington, but this time you watch him with agony rather than just admiration.

32 Comments on this Post

  1. WOW! Cannot wait to watch this film and Denzel!

  2. FBCOLLINS

    And deservedly so, it’s truly a masterful performance, the best I’ve seen in a long long time.

  3. Can’t wait. If it’s as good as they are saying then we’re in for something special it seems. Washington 2012!

  4. Seeing it this weekend, I think this movie could actually end up being a pretty big hit.

  5. Terometer

    There is a giant gap between Denzel and other black actors. Where are other excellent black actors? All the good looking ones can’t act like Denzel.

  6. Denzel is a lock and Flight is doing great with critics. With over 70 reviews it has an 84% rating on RT however it has an 91% rating with top critics with an 8.4 avg. Metacritic is at 79 right now however it looks to be in the low 80s once all reviews come in. Denzel is getting out of this world raves and anybody who thinks he is not a lock is crazy.

  7. Not only is Denzel getting great reviews but look at what top critics are saying about the film. 91% with a 8.5 avg is great.

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/flight_2012/#top-critics-numbers

  8. One of my most anticipated of the year. I hope it’s great. It’s only an hour and half long though?

  9. All this praise and yet I remain convinced that I’m not going to like Flight. I have so much respect for Roger Ebert’s taste – he gave it four stars. There’s no way I’ll give it four.

    It’s not out here until February anyway. FEBRUARY! Three whole fucking months! Outside of the US and Canada, the UK and Ireland are usually among the first territories to see films. Boo.

  10. I’m waiting until Saturday to see this with my Old Ma. She luffs him. Until then I ain’t readin’ nuthin’.

  11. Well, it is official, I am definitely in the minority. Although I agree Washington is great in the film, I wasn’t in awe by the whole thing. Leaving the NYFF I couldn’t stop thinking that if the plane crash hadn’t happened at the beginning, the movie would have told me nothing new. Having seen lots of films about addiction – from The Man with the Golden Arm to Trainspotting to 28 Days, and everything in between – Flight doesn’t seem to me so brilliant. A very good drama nonetheless. A much better movie than 28 Days, that’s for sure.

    But I am happy for Danzel Washington, I am a fan. (Crimson Tide is one of my favorite movies ever, not only because he is in it, but because Gene Hackman is in it too).

  12. ChrisFlick

    Looking forward to this on the weekend but alot of the praise also reads as critics happy Mr. Washington has gone back to a real performance, rather than these phone in the charisma action paydays.

  13. For those of you who have seen it: is this a Best Picture contender? Denzel a lock for a nomination?

  14. The Great Dane

    Seems like we have four cemented locks in Best Actor right now… But remember, so was Paul Giamatti for Sideways back in the day. He ruled the critics groups – and then didn’t get nominated for the Oscar. He lost out to bigger stars. So is The Sessions not gonna make it in to Best Actor possibly. On the other hand, Leonardo DiCaprio was also a lock for Titanic – but lost out to an unknown back then: Matt Damon.
    So what’s gonna happen, if we get one or two more strong contenders within the next two months?
    This seems bad for Gere (looking to get a first nomination ever), because great singing outshines great acting in films, as we’ve learned by now (so Oscar tells us). How else did Cate Blanchett lose an acting award to Jennifer Hudson?

    So if Les Miz is great, and Jackman sings his pants off (why wouldn’t he when we know that he can), we would seem to have five locks. It seems too good to be true. Something is gonna shock on Oscar morning. An even more surprising snub than Fassbender last year seems very possible.

  15. I think the only lock in the Best Actor category is Daniel Day-Lewis. Joaquim Phoenix, John Hawkes, Danzel Washington, Anthony Hopkins and Hugh Jackman could all narrowly miss the nomination. And I see no space for Bradley Cooper or Richard Gere. I can’t see them ignoring Anthony Hopkins unless his film is a true disaster or Hugh Jackman if they fall in love with Les Mis.

    I’d say the same about Best Actress. Nobody but Jennifer Lawrence is locked. Even Marion Cotilard is not a lock and we have not seen Zero Dark Thirty. So… we have to wait for Jessica Chastain.

    And an off-topic question: does anybody know if press has reached a kind of consensus to only release Lincoln’s reviews after Election-day? Weird that a week before the release, only 2 reviews are in at RT.

  16. moviewatcher

    Comment

  17. moviewatcher

    Ebert gave it 4 stars… another reason to look forward to this movie…

    Denzel: you mad phoenix? Only 2.5 stars?

    I’m dying to see Flight… go Zemeckis and Washington!!!

  18. Bryce Forestieri

    Finally back after months!! What’s wrong with the site? my Antivirus software has been going bonkers every time I been trying to access saying the AD may contain malicious malware…

    By the way Another Rave from Peter Travers

    http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/flight-20121101

  19. I think Washington is a lock for BA. And he deserves it. But with this crowd loving it so much the film, I think it has big chances for a BP nomination.

    And talking about BP nominations…

    Huge OT (if it is against the rules, I apologize), but I had to share this. To build more expectations, apparently Entertainment Weekly’s Nov 9/16 Holiday Movie Preview Issue has Owen Gleiberman’s review for Lincoln. It is an A: “Lincoln, which Spielberg directed from a lyrical, ingeniously structured screenplay by Tony Kushner, is one of the most authentic biographical dramas I’ve ever seen”.

    Information posted on Lincoln’s IMDb Board by someone who says got the issue at home (Thanks, Emma Gennaro!).

  20. Have to wait to Tuesday to see it. so looking forward too it.

  21. Has anyone been drawing comparisons to Washington’s work in Ed Zwick’s Courage Under Fire? In that film, he also played a professional with an alcohol problem, though there it was due to guilt over events from the Gulf War.

    I thought it was one of his best and certainly most overlooked performances, and it’s a shame I never see it mentioned when reading about the man’s career.

  22. Roger the Shrubber

    Terometer, when I read your comment, the first thing that popped into my head is the underappreciated Anthony Mackie, probably most famous as Sgt. Sanborn in “The Hurt Locker”.

  23. Johnathen Daylie

    DDL vs. Denzel for best actor Academy?

  24. I’m seeing this next week with my movie club..woohoo

  25. Did anybody else catch that Training Day reference?

    In the cockpit, he asks the boyscout looking co-pilot …”have we flown before?”

    then he inhales from his airmask as if he’s taking a hit of the drugs and offers some to the co pilot “you want a hit of this?”

  26. Just saw it last night. Denzel is a lock for a nod, but no win.

  27. I just got home.

    Denzel was fine, did the job I expect him to do but it can’t compete with just what we’ve seen in the trailers from DDL. Unless Lincoln suddenly breaks out into a 45 minute modern dance number right in the middle of the movie I can’t imagine DDL screwing this up. And I guess I should mention that what I saw of HeWhoCallsOscarBullshit was also better than this. And honestly PSH too. So I’m not sure how the nominations will play out, but I think if it’s a nomination it’s probably not a win.

    Also, I think they ruined a perfectly good film with a stupid ending. I felt like I was going along on a nice trip and then suddenly taken to the ghetto (of endings).

  28. Also, I think they ruined a perfectly good film with a stupid ending.

    which of the three endings do you mean?

  29. lololol

    The one where Melissa Leo is asking him “the question” and he starts to tear up. Then just when he goes to answer Forrest Gump busts in and declares “I gotta pee!” Then the end credits roll to a medley of every Rolling Stones song ever. I think it was two notes each.

  30. Denzel was really good in “Flight.”

    SPOILER ALERT

    SPOILER ALERT

    SPOILER ALERT

    I couldn’t believe how long it took for his character to, pardon the pun, have a change of character. The few addicts I’ve known have either turned things around fairly quickly or not at all.

    END OF SPOILER ALERT

    END OF SPOILER ALERT

    END OF SPOILER ALERT

  31. SallyinChicago

    OMG, this movie was so good. If you have family members who are battling substance abuse, this will hit home. In and out of Rehab….trying their best to stay clean….in denial “I’m not an alcholic”….and Denzel was spectacular.

  32. SallyinChicago

    “There is a giant gap between Denzel and other black actors. Where are other excellent black actors? All the good looking ones can’t act like Denzel.”

    At one time, I would have put my money on Terrence Howard, but he seems to get into a lot of domestic problems that derail his potential. At least Denzel has been married to the same woman, hasn’t been in scandal, and just seems genuinely quiet and with a good work ethic.

Leave a Comment

Warning: Do not abuse your right to comment here. You will be deleted.