Three times Oscar winner Denzel Washington could be in the minds of the Academy once more, after his nuanced performance as an alcoholic hero in Flight won almost unanimous praise from critics. Though the movie itself has received good, if not spectacular, reviews, it is Washington's turn that is described as his best in years.
The actor plays Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot who crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly everyone on board. After the near-miss, he is rightly hailed as a hero, though Whitaker is slowly battling his own, inner personal problems. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone lauded the Hollywood star's performance, writing, "Flight reminds us of what Washington can do when a role hits him with a challenge that would floor a lesser actor. He's a ball of fire, and his detailed, depth-charged, bruisingly true performance will be talked about for years." It's certainly true that Washington - a fine actor with the right material - has appeared in far too many mediocre movies, though Flight appears to be able to match his standards, almost. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "A solid, often engrossing film that doesn't engage us overall the way Denzel Washington's work does," while Manohla Dargis of the New York Times said, "To watch Mr. Zemeckis working fluidly in consort with Mr. Washington's ferocious performance is to regret this director's last, technologically determined decade." Very much from the Steven Spielberg School of filmmaking, Zemeckis' recent work has perhaps concentrated more on CGI than engrossing plotlines and characterization (See A Christmas Carol, Beowulf and The Polar Express)
Currently, Washington hovers around the 8/1 mark to take the award for Best Actor at the Oscars in February, so don't be surprised should he snag a nomination at the turn of the year.