Back to IndieWire

Early Oscar Buzz for Denzel Washington’s ‘The Equalizer’ (Directed by Antoine Fuqua)

Early Oscar Buzz for Denzel Washington's 'The Equalizer' (Directed by Antoine Fuqua)

I hadn’t previously considered the idea, until the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced the film would make its world premiere there a couple of months from now.

And then I learned this morning that it’s been selected to open the San Sebastian Film Festival, also in September, a few days after it debuts at TIFF – San Sebastian being the highest-profile film festival in the Spanish-speaking world, and, of course, TIFF being one of the highest-profile film festivals in the entire world, renowned for its status as the place where top producers and distributors go with their films to generate early Oscar buzz. Indeed last season’s Best Picture Academy Award winner (“12 Years a Slave”) premiered at TIFF in the fall of 2013. And while it didn’t officially premiere at TIFF, last season’s Oscar winner for Best Directing (“Gravity”) also screened at the festival, where it began its Awards season march.

Also worth noting is that, the last time Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua worked together as actor and director (“Training Day”), Washington won an Oscar for Best Actor. And, coincidentally, that film also premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before its official commercial release.

So, based on all of the above “evidence,” it maybe shouldn’t be a big surprise that “The Equalizer” – which tested well with test audiences earlier this year, and which is scheduled to open theatrically in the USA about a week after its TIFF and San Sebastian screenings – is already generating Oscar buzz for Mr Washington, in a role that should provide a combo character study, and action hero, based on what I know of the original TV series it’s based on.

Sony Pictures will release the movie on September 26, 2014.

Chloe Moretz, Marton Csokas and Melissa Leo, co-star with Washington in the film, which is directed by Washington’s “Training Day” helmer, Antoine Fuqua, from a script written by Richard Wenk. 

The reportedly $50 million project is said to be designed to launch the first film franchise for Mr Washington – hence, if this first film does well, expect sequels. One has already been greenlit, even though the first film hasn’t been released yet. As previously noted, it’s said to have scored particularly well with test audience.

The TV series the film is based on was set in New York, and centered on a former secret agent (played by the late Edward Woodward) with a “mysterious past” who tries to atone for past sins by offering, free of charge, his services as an investigator, aided by a diverse group of other sometimes-mysterious contacts (some of whom date back to his spying days).

In the film adaptation, Washington plays Robert McCall, a retired intelligence operator who faked his own death to live under the radar. But after finding a young woman (played by Chloe Moretz) in trouble with the Russian mob, he returns to action to use his extreme tactics for good.

If Washington is nominated, this would be his 5th Best Actor nomination (“Malcolm X,” “The Hurricane” “Training Day” – which he won – and “Flight”).

This Article is related to: News and tagged , , ,



I would have love to see Denzel Washington play the role of Moses in Ridley Scott's Exdous: Gods and Kings instead of this role in The Equalizer. At least Denzel playing Moses would have been unique.


This seems like a good choice for Denzel Washington and I am excited because it is his first film franchise! I think this would be perfect for him to sink his teeth into.

Daniel Hardy

Oscar buzz for this movie? You gotta be kidding. I read the script a while back, and it's a nauseatingly violent, soulless, by the numbers vigilante hack job. I'm sure test audiences lapped up the usual bad-guys-being-blown-away-catharsis, but Denzel has about as much chance of getting nomm'd for this as Stallone does for The Expendables 3.


If he is nominated it would be his 7th nomination no 5th

Lady J

All Denzel has to do is suck his bottom lip and I am done! I see anything he does………….


This sounds a bit similar to Jack Reacher


Denzel was nominated for an Oscar in The Hurricane, Malcolm X and "Flight"… and HE WAS ROBBED! Okay okay, I know… that's a black thang :-)

However, since he's reprising a role originally featuring a white actor, I have concerns. Well, in both Hurricane and Malcolm X the subjects were distinctly "black". Even in the movie in which he won an Oscar, the character was… well, a black man (in all it's glory). So now we have The Equalizer, a film based on… correction, inspired by the 1980's TV series, and starred Edward Woodward. Hmmm… how did John Q Public accept Octavia Spencer as Angela Lansbury in the reboot of Murder, She Wrote? And, most recently, how many people tuned in to watch Blair Underwood as Raymond Burr, the wheelchair-bound detective?

Granted, I've heard it said that the scripted retains the series basic premise of a protagonist who devotes his time to victimized people, but it has been "refashioned" to play to Denzel's knack for portraying "solidarity" … "monastic" types. Well, I don't know what the heck that means but I do know Mr. Washington has no choice other than wearing his dark skin. Consequently, I see a storm on the horizon, not an Oscar.

Hey, I know one somebody that's not gonna like this, that be… S&A's Sergio. Come on now, Old Skools do not like people messing with their memories… I betcha.


Training Day made its world premiere at Tiff and Denzel went to win the oscar. Flight did the same and Denzel got an oscar nod for that film. This is very good news indeed. Herd the film was very good.


Where other than here is this movie generating Oscar buzz?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *