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The Top 10 Scarlett Johansson Performances

Scarlett Johansson
Business Insider

Scarlett Johansson Updates: Scarlett Johansson returns to the big screen this weekend in Marvel Studios and Disney’s long-awaited “Black Widow,” which is finally here after numerous pandemic-related delays.

As Natasha Romanoff, who has already starred in the “Avengers” series, “Captain America,” and other Marvel films, Scarlett Johansson gets the chance to (once again, and maybe for the final time) flex her already-established imprint in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But, whether in independent comedy or more quietly spoken, serious dramas, the actress’ career is marked by less flashy parts. She received two Oscar nods (both her first!) in 2020 for the films “Jojo Rabbit” and “Marriage Story,” in which she played two completely different roles: one as a German mother who is secretly anti-Nazi during WWII, and the other as one-half of a theatrical marriage drifting apart across US coastlines.

Take a look back at Scarlett Johansson’s 10 finest roles, with “Black Widow” out in cinemas (and streaming on Disney+) and Scarlett Johansson taking her final bow as the S.H.I.E.L.D. spy.

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10. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (2003)

Scarlett Johansson
MUBI

Following “Lost in Translation,” Johansson had her second of two breakout parts in 2003, with Peter Webber’s ecstatic version of Tracy Chevalier’s novel (which was inspired by the Johannes Vermeer picture of the same name). Griet, the daughter of a blind painter, gets swept up into the stream of Vermeer in a scorching relationship that spirals out of control, and she plays Griet with a porcelain delicacy (very much capable of breaking at any time).

9. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008)

Scarlett Johansson
Den of Geek

In “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” alongside Rebecca Hall as her best friend Vicky, the actress combines naiveté with flintiness as amateur (and very much unfamiliar with the ways of the world) photographer Cristina.

As in “Ghost World,” Johansson plays one side of a friendship that’s on the verge of breaking apart, and it’s not just because of the entrance of the mesmerizing Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem).

8. “Lucy” (2014)

Scarlett Johansson
Vox

When a significant quantity of narcotics is spilled into her system, Johansson continues to cut her action movie teeth in Luc Besson’s terrific film about a carefree student converted into a drug mule, then transformed into a superhuman with telekinetic and telepathic powers. “Lucy” is a bizarre mash-up of a superhero film and a Taiwanese gangster film, but Johansson keeps it all together with a strong action performance.

7. “Jojo Rabbit” (2019)

Scarlett Johansson
Hey Alma

“Johansson is in a league of her own here, delivering a heartfelt comedic role that continues exposing new layers,” noted Johansson’s performance as doting German (but anti-Nazi) mother Rosie.

The actress was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the picture, which sees her enjoying a well-deserved sabbatical from Marvel obligations.

6. “Marriage Story” (2019)

Scarlett Johansson
Entertainment Weekly

“Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s devastating vivisection of a marriage’s breakdown, provides Johansson with a large, chewy platform in which to show off her dramatic acting talents.

The throwdown fight sequence between her character and Adam Driver, in which they hurl years-old resentments at each other, is remembered (and now meme-ified) by many, but Johansson gets possibly the best scene in the film early on, when she breaks down to Laura Dern about the loss of selfhood she’s experienced in her relationship. Johansson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

5. “Ghost World” (2001)

Scarlett Johansson
The Guardian

Everyone in “Ghost World” wants to go, but no one knows how to open the door. They don’t want to either. They’d rather look at the padding in the cell than think about getting out. Enid (Thora Birch), an outspoken and misunderstood loner, and her less tormented but still gloomy best friend Rebecca are among them (Johansson). Two individuals are on the lookout for a way out.

Terry Zwigoff’s tribute to misfits and miscreants is a powerful X-ray of a fading friendship, with Johansson playing the more allegedly “basic” side of a legendary couple as equally as Birch. Rebecca is clever, cynical, yet self-aware and resigned to the masquerade she’ll have to wear after high school if she wants to live a normal life.

4. “Match Point” (2005)

Scarlett Johansson
SBS

As Nola Rice, an American having a fatal affair with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in London, Scarlett Johansson injects burning anger into Woody Allen’s adulterous twist on “Crime and Punishment.”

Despite the fact that her character meets an unavoidably tragic end halfway through the film, Scarlett Johansson steals the show as the Other Woman, a rightfully enraged but far from insane Other Woman.

3. “Her” (2013)

Scarlett Johansson
The Playlist

The actress received a surprising Best Actress Award at the Rome Film Festival for her voice-only performance as Samantha, a disembodied AI who comforts a heartbroken Joaquin Phoenix back into love again in Spike Jonze’s quirky 21st-century romance “Her.”

As Joaquin’s character and Samantha’s relationship develops and she begins to develop consciousness, Scarlett Johansson provides the essential depth to bring a performance that was previously unnoticed on the screen to life.

2. “Under the Skin” (2014)

Scarlett Johansson
Vanity Fair

The horrific succubus-from-space thriller “Under the Skin,” directed by Jonathan Glazer, necessitates a mainly wordless performance from Scarlett Johansson, who plays “The Female,” a succubus dispatched to Earth under dubious circumstances to collect the souls of unwary men.

To do this, Scarlett Johansson performed many of these sequences without a script, and with non-actors caught off guard as she tries to pick them up in a van and drive them back to her shady hideaway.

Much might be said about how this picture is about what it means to be human, but as seen via Scarlett Johansson glassy-eyed, slowly unfolding performance, “Under the Skin” is truly about what it means not to be human — and the repercussions that come with it when thrown down into humanity. Scarlett Johansson represents what it’s like to be an extraterrestrial on the verge of collapsing.

1. “Lost in Translation” (2003)

Scarlett Johansson
IndieWire

Scarlett Johansson already had indie cred as a youngster thanks to roles in films like “Ghost World” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” but “Lost in Translation” cemented her reputation as a mature actress well above her years.

And her performance as Charlotte in Sofia Coppola’s dreamy, Tokyo-set short encounter remains Scarlett Johansson greatest nearly two decades later. Scarlett Johansson’s adrift philosophy grad is imbued with a piercing maturity that is well-matched to Bill Murray’s down-and-out actor Bob, despite the fact that she is 19 at the time of the film’s release.