No Way Out

No Way Out ★★★★

"40 years I've been chasing Sidney, they finally give it to me, what do the do? They give it to him the same night.
I'll always be chasing you Sidney, I'll always be following in your footsteps. There's nothing I would rather do, Sir."
Denzel Washington, 2002

Probably my favourite Oscar moment ever, Denzel proudly lifting his much deserved Best Actor Oscar up to the gallery where Sidney Poitier stands, holding his own Honorary Oscar right back at him.

And it all started for the great man back in 1950, ironically, the same year Marlon Brando first landed on the screen - the only other male actor of that era I can think of who so clearly changed the path of what it meant to be a film star.

Of course, in Brando's case, it was purely about technique and talent, but for Sidney - he has those two traits in abundance, without doubt - he had to overcome far more real threats to his position as a mainstay in Hollywood. When you talk about breaking down doors in the industry, nobody had a more meaningful impact than Sidney Poitier.

And No Way Out is a perfect example of what he brought as an actor. He carries the weight of who he is, what he represents up on the screen, and he's utterly fearless.

For a film made in 1950, No Way Out is extremely bold. To approach the subject of racism, whether systemic or individual, in such a candid way and have a black man play the sympathetic hero was, unfortunately, way ahead of it's time - we're still only 35 years on from Birth of a Nation here, but Sidney Poitier was born to make this giant leap for everybody, and he never flinches within the task. Even when the film itself sometimes loses its focus and veers into heavy-handedness, Poitier stands above it all with sheer class.

Denzel's not alone. We're all following in Sidney Poitier's footsteps.

Rest in Peace, Sir.