The Five Best Scarlett Johansson Performances


The Five Best Scarlett Johansson Performances

In order to succeed in Hollywood and continue to be successful, an actor has to be versatile. It is refreshing when an actress known for comedy pulls off a drama (Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?). The converse is true as well (Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her).  One actress who fits this mold in Hollywood is the always reliable Scarlett Johansson. She is most prevalent these days as the Black Widow in the MCU, but she has done every kind of movie under the sun. Johansson has done costume drama (The Other Boleyn Girl), science fiction (The Island), dark comedy (Rough Night), and even creature features (Eight Legged Freaks). She is quite the creative force who commands every second she is on screen. Here are her 5 best performances.

The Black Widow/Natasha Romanov in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Scarlett Johansson has been portraying Natasha Romanov since 2010’s Iron Man 2. Her character was a more physical fighter, without the assistance of CGI, as opposed to most other cast members.  Also, it was made clear that she was one of the most strategically brilliant members of the Avengers. Unfortunately for Johansson, Black Widow always felt relegated to the background. But when given a chance to shine — such as her action scene with Okoye and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Infinity War — all that training pays off.

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Charlotte in Lost in Translation (2003)

Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is definitely the Bill Murray show. As Bob Harris, Murray is sort of playing himself. He is an older, fading movie star who is hocking whiskey in Japan. His life has become lonely, boring, and uninteresting. Murray’s portrayal is pitch perfect in giving us his sense of melancholy and malaise. Enter Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte, a young woman whose husband is on a photography assignment in Japan. Just like Bob, Charlotte also feels like her life is in a rut. She is a recent Yale philosophy graduate who is relegated to the hotel while her husband works. All the praise went to Murray, but Johansson is incredibly effective as Charlotte. Where Bob is lonely in his twilight, Charlotte is lonely in her youth. The two souls need connection, camaraderie, and empathy in a world where the culture and language that surrounds them is alien. Johansson holds her own against Murray’s brilliance. 

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Nola Rice in Match Point (2005)

In 2005, Woody Allen moved his production across the pond and, in a way, effectively filmed a modern update of his Crimes and Misdemeanors. Match Point was a jumping off point for Woody Allen’s modern muse. Scarlett Johansson would go on to star in Allen’s Scoop and Vicky Christina Barcelona, but she was never as good as she was in Match Point where she portrayed Nola Rice. Rhys Meyer’s Chris is a former tennis pro that has recently married into money. He has married Chloe (Emily Mortimer), the sister of his tennis protege. However, at a party, he runs across his protege’s girlfriend, Nola. Her performance is wonderful. Chris is powerless against Nola’s wiles, and it pretty much destroys his life.

The Female in Under the Skin (2013)

Perhaps no role has given Johansson access to her seductive persona than Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Johansson plays a creature, possibly an alien, who entices men to her lair, and ultimately to their death.  The Female, as she is simply named, lurks around with emotionless stoicism and an oddly sad attempt at fitting in This film is extraordinary in what it has to say about loneliness and sexuality. 

Griet in Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)

Peter Webber’s gorgeous Girl With a Pearl Earring sees Johansson as Griet, the porcelain-faced peasant girl sent to the famous painter Johannes Vermeer, as a maid.  Sure, she is a poor girl, but she immediately exudes intelligence and an artistic instinct that soon catches the attention if the crotchety artist. But this movie is not about their love affair, or the jealousy of Vermeer’s wife or mother-in-law.  It is about the uncrossable barriers between two beings who are connected through the passion for art. The famous painting that gives the film its name wasn’t even Vermeer’s idea. It was a commission by a rich patron lusting after Griet. Johansson’s performance evolves from jittery, frightened girl to passionate, confident colleague.

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