Denzel Washington received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in The Hurricane.
Denzel Washington's performance as Rubin Carter certainly seems like Oscar fair. Carter as depicted in the film is a innocent man, had the chance for greatness but is denied it. He struggles for years but remains passionate in his resolve, even if his experience has left him hardened over the years. This sort of character just lines himself up for Oscar scenes really.
Washington certainly has plenty of standard Oscar scenes as Carter, but I must say that is part of the problem with this performance. In his youth scenes Washington gives in many ways a similar performance to his one in Malcolm X as an angry young man, but constantly tries to show a certain degree of coolness about himself.
This similarity between the two performance, almost seemed like a repetition at times leaving me rather unimpressed by his entire depiction of Carter. Washington because of this similarity never really makes Carter into all that individual of a character as he really should be. Carter is shown to be angry yes, attempts to be charming when he needs to be, but I certainly wanted more than what Washington gives.
In his other scenes of anger, as well as a passion in desperation I felt basically the same. It is not that Washington poorly portrays Carter's anger or his passion, but it just never forms a truly compelling characterization. His performance is there, his emotions are not wrong, but they never create anything that makes Rubin Carter his own man leaving his performance underwhelming.
Washington although portrays the emotions of Carter in a realistic enough fashion his transitions and transformations are not sufficiently portrayed. His changes to the older, and older Carter are not horrible, but nor are they have profound or interesting. His portrayal of his transition in accepting the help the young black student, and his white mentors is particularly ineffective though.
This is not a bad performance by any means, but in the end this performance left me feeling the same as I felt about Sean Penn's nominated performance this same year. It is not bad, but it never has a single scene that ever stands out as an amazing moment. Washington's performance is there, it really never seems really off in terms of his emotions, but never does he make them come alive in any sort of a deeper level.