But it's not like Denzel Washington isn't considered a good actor because he's black - we don't care about that. Actually when I read a post from a certain woman in another Oscar blog praying to God that such a wonderful thespian is also nominated as Best Director for Fences, well, I wonder - isn't it possible that all this praise in the US is partly due to the fact that he IS black?
I assume you're talking about praise for his acting and not directing. Ironically, Denzel's second movie, The Great Debaters, scored a Best Picture nomination for the Hollywood Foreign Press and Fences didn't.
"Is it possible all this praise in the US is partly due to the fact that Denzel Washington is black?" No, it's not because he's black. It's because he's successfully juggled commercial projects and artistic projects for thirty years. But all of his artistic projects explore race.
In an age where movie stars don't have the power that they used to, he has proven himself capable of opening a Hollywood motion picture time and time again. In fact, he's probably the only movie star who headlines ZERO franchises who can do that (Tom Cruise has Mission Impossible, Matt Damon has Jason Bourne, etc). And what does Denzel Washington do with his star power? He explores race. He either directs projects that explore race, or he collaborates with directors on projects that explore race. And he's done this for thirty years. He's about to receive his seventh Academy award for Fences. His other six nominations were for Cry Freedom, Glory, Malcom X, The Hurricane, Training Day, and Flight. Six of those seven explicitly dealt with race (Flight being the outlier). I think it's because he chooses very strong roles in largely racially-charged, high-profile films that are a very good fit for his skill-set.
I think saying that Denzel Washington gets the praise he gets partly because he's black is one way of looking at it. I think he's earned everyone's respect for doing something that is very difficult.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver