The February 15 home video release of white-knuckle action-thriller "Unstoppable" (starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine) on DVD/Blu-ray has us thinking about some other "Unstoppable" Forces in Hollywood. These selections aren’t exactly runaway trains full of toxic chemicals, but those included have made an impact on Hollywood that won’t soon be forgotten – and can’t be stopped!
With over 40 films and enough esteemed awards to fill a trophy case, Denzel Washington has made his mark as an unstoppable Hollywood force with a versatility that borders on chameleon. After a blazingly passionate performance in 1989’s Glory landed him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Denzel continued to make a name for himself through the ’90s with a vast array of characters in such big-budget productions as The Pelican Brief (1993), Philadelphia (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and Courage Under Fire (1996). Known for his meticulous work ethic and incredible onscreen gravity, the Oscar winner has also stepped behind the camera, where he made his debut as a director in 2002 with Antwone Fisher (2002).
James Cameron wrote, produced and directed the single biggest film in the history of cinema: Avatar. That alone would give the man bragging rights and Hollywood influence to last five lifetimes. However, the film’s staggering success is just the cherry (a very, very large cherry) on top of a dream-come-true career that’s produced some of the most successful films ever made. With the incredible success of Aliens and the first two Terminator films, Cameron was only warming up: 1997’s Titanic and 2009’s Avatar are the two highest-grossing films of all time at $1.8 billion and $2.7 billion respectively, with the former landing the man Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture.
You knew his films before you knew his name, but those paying attention to Christopher Nolan early on knew he was bound for great things. After the cult smash popularity of 2000’s mind-warp Memento, Nolan hit a high stride of well-timed success that led him through the dark & captivating paths of Insomnia (2002) and The Prestige (2006), to a stunningly excellent reimagining of the Batman film franchise. After taking a break to blow our minds with Inception, to the tune of $850 million at the box office and a whopping 8 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Nolan is returning to Batman for The Dark Knight Rises.
For nearly five decades Steven Spielberg has been spellbinding audiences with some of the most iconic and box-office obliterating films ever made, from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial to Jaws to the Indiana Jones and Back To The Future franchises, all before 1990. If there was a box-office smash you loved as a child, chances are Steven Spielberg either directed or produced it – especially if dinosaurs or time machines were involved. After racking up an unfathomable $4 trillion at the box office, his unstoppable force remains relentless, with another installment of the Transformers film series on the way as well as Men In Black III and the hotly anticipated Cowboys & Aliens.
Robert Downey, Jr.
Having obliterated any doubt that he was anything but the perfect man for the job, Robert Downey Jr. stepped into the role of Tony Stark for Iron Man and Iron Man 2, two incredibly successful comic-franchise films that cemented Downey’s return as a Hollywood heavy-hitter. Having amassed a box office total of $820 million for Iron Man 2 and Due Date, his hilarious recent comedy with Zach Galifianakis, the sky is the limit for Downey, who’s now gearing up for a Sherlock Holmes sequel and the upcoming (and wildly anticipated) Avengers film.
Director Tony Scott has earned Hollywood’s adoration with his action films. After making his acting debut in brother Ridley Scott’s first film, the 1965 short Boy and Bicycle, he dove headlong into the entertainment industry as a partner and director for Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), the UK-based commercial production company his brother founded in 1968. Now a member of the exclusive club of billion dollar-grossing directors, Scott has been one a stalwart of Hollywood action films since the mid-1980s. Box-office smash success arrived in 1986 with the now-legendary Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun, which grossed more than $175 million in the U.S. and nearly $350 million worldwide. There’s been no looking back, having confirmed his place as one of Hollywood’s unstoppable action directors the following year with Beverly Hills Cop II starring Eddie Murphy, and onwards to over $1 billion in total box-office sales with such unforgettable films as Enemy of the State, Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, Unstoppable and several others.
With nearly $1.5 billion in total box-office revenue to her credit, there’s no denying that Brad Pitt’s better half is an unstoppable force in Tinseltown. With an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Golden Globe Awards to her credit, Jolie has found astonishing box-office success with films including 1998’s Gia, 1999’s Girl, Interrupted, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, last year’s Salt and many others. She’s reached new levels of influence through her vital promotion of humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Having taken Hollywood by storm over the past few years with starring roles in Terminator: Salvation, Avatar and Clash of the Titans, Sam Worthington is rising rapidly in the ranks of industry power players. With a Clash of the Titans sequel in the works and two Avatar sequels lined up, "unstoppable force" is perhaps the best way to describe the Australian actor. When an actor’s breakout film happens to be the biggest box office smash of all time, the streets are lined with opened doors. It’ll be exciting to see which ones he walks through in the coming years.
An unstoppable force by all accounts since his adorable first appearance on "Growing Pains" in the early ’90s, Leonardo DiCaprio has achieved a level of box-office success most actors would never dare dream of. According to Forbes Magazine, he was 2010’s highest-grossing actor at the box office with Inception and Shutter Island bringing in a collective $1.1 billion in theaters around the world. Currently filming J. Edgar with Clint Eastwood in the director’s chair, Leonardo will play the title role in the biopic as the first Director of the FBI.
Johnny Depp’s massive Hollywood influence is inarguable, with an uncompromising artistry and ironclad reliability onscreen that’s found him transforming into the living embodiment of Hunter S. Thompson (in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) to FBI mob informant Donnie Brasco (the 1997 film of the same name) and a world of characters in between. Who else could possibly play both Don Juan DeMarco and Willy Wonka in the same lifetime?
Last year, Depp’s role as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and as the unwitting spy pawn in The Tourist grossed a combined $1.07 billion to date, confirming the man’s lasting power. With the incredible global success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, two upcoming installment films will revive Depp’s Jack Sparrow character for even greater domination.
After her breakthrough feature film role in the 1991 Jungle Fever, Halle Berry took the Hollywood world by storm. Two decades later, Berry has amassed an incredible body of work (worth an estimated $1.5 billion in box-office sales), as well as an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and an NAACP Image Awards, among many others. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress and was also nominated for a BAFTA Award in 2001 for her performance in Monster’s Ball, becoming the first and, as of 2011, only woman of African American descent to have won the award for Best Actress. Her reliable box-office success and relentless commitment to powerfully compelling performances has assured her status as an unstoppable force in Hollywood.
As far as Hollywood batting averages go, Pixar is the single most successful movie studio in the history of cinema. The animation giant became an overwhelmingly dominant box-office force over the past two decades, also making leaps in technological progress and setting new standards in the industry.
The true era of Pixar domination began in the nineties, when the company’s first three major films, 1995′s Toy Story, 1998′s A Bug’s Life and 1999′s Toy Story 2 established the studio as a powerhouse of talent with a lineup of new classics for a generation having trouble relating to the antiquity of the beloved old Disney gems. Moving into the 21st century, a barrage of mega-smash films including Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Cars, The Incredibles and Wall-E, to name just a few, decimated the competition and cemented Pixar’s status as an unstoppable force in Hollywood. There’s no end in sight either, with last’s year’s Toy Story 3 having grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, an all-time high for animated films which ensures an even greater momentum for the most incredible animation-magic studio in the world.