Denzel Washington won his first Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Private Tripp in Glory.
Glory shows the regiment and focuses on four particular soldiers in the regiment. Washington depicts one of them Private Tripp who is a very angry former slave who seems to have joined the ranks of the regiment with the main purpose of being able to kill southerners. Tripp is an antagonistic fellow who purposely attacks the other black soldiers.
Washington's performance at the beginning wants to stand out, perhaps just a little to much. Tripp certainly should want to make his presence known, and should have a personality that simply makes the others have to notice him, but Washington overdoes it just a tad I think making it so he seems just slightly self aware of his performance.
Luckily I only felt this way about the first scene, and Washington pulls back his performance a bit and becomes far more natural as the film progresses. The first scene makes him a bit too cute almost in his treatment of the other black soldiers, but after that scene his treatment seems to come from a genuine anger at everyone due to his treatment as a slave.
Washington best moment though are in his various quieter scenes, rather than his various scenes of more obvious anger, which he does well enough sure, but his quieter scenes are much more impressive. In his quieter moments such as just his reaction after being whipped, which may be a bit too much of a Oscary scene really but Washington reaction is effective.
His best scene though I really think is his quiet scene where he tells the white commander of the troops. In this one scene Washington shows an honest passion, and pain that Tripp really feels about himself, and other black people even after the war is over. That scene he is very good, and Washington is fine basically after the first scene. I was never quite amazed by this performance, but I won't deny that this still is a good performance.