Oscar Nominations: Original Screenplay and Best Actor (Denzel Washington)
Unlike some of the Oscar nominated movies I’ve raved about, there is nothing particularly new in Flight, the story of a troubled airline pilot who prevents a devastating plane crash and the ensuing investigation into his competence. The narrative, editing and directing are all straight-forward and yet there is something unsettling but engaging about the movie that is, I believe, entirely thanks to Denzel Washington.
What I liked: Washington is transcendent. His character is so well-developed (hence the screenplay nod?), so complex, so arrogant, so charming and so frightened that each scene elicits an emotional response. He is at his best when his character, Whip Whitaker, is at his worst. The story itself is interesting and moves smoothly forward to its finale. The supporting cast provides some wit, some centering and helps to ask some tough questions.
What I didn’t like: The story itself felt nuanced enough that the lyric-heavy score annoyed me with its blatant reminder of what we were seeing. The frequent reference to God as explanation for personal tragedy or salvation was probably meant to invoke discussion but felt heavy-handed to me.
My rating: My favourite Denzel performance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%