After a distinguished film career that began at age 10, Scarlett Johansson finally became an Academy Award nominee, earning a Best Actress nomination for her performance in “Marriage Story,” as well as being nominated as Best Supporting Actress for “Jojo Rabbit.” (Johansson is only the 12th actor in Oscar history to manage that feat.) But don’t feel too sorry for her: since 2018, she has reigned as the world’s highest-paid actress, and, with her films having grossed $14.3 billion worldwide, she is the third highest-grossing box-office star of all time.
Her tally of awards and nominations also make an argument for her being one of the best actresses of her generation. Johansson has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, three SAG Awards and has won a BAFTA Award from four nominations. (And she is nominated for all three of those awards this year.) But her acting prowess is not just limited to films. In 2010, she made her Broadway debut in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge,” and, first time out, she not only was nominated for a Tony Award, but she won it.
Johansson’s biggest box-office success has been her role as Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) in eight Marvel films for “The Avengers,” plus her own “Black Widow” feature. Let’s raise a glass and toast the great lady with a photo gallery tour of ranking her 13 best films from worst to best.
Photo : Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
13. LUCY (2014)
Writer/Director: Luc Bresson. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-Sik, Amr Waked.
Johansson starred in this worldwide box office hit as the title character, a young woman who is coerced into becoming a drug mule. When a synthetic drug is sewn into her abdomen, the bag suddenly breaks, sending the drug rushing into her system. Lucy soon discovers that she has enhanced mental and physical powers, as well as developing telepathy, mental time travel and the sensation of not feeling any pain. She is torn between trying to get the drug out of her system and using her new superpowers to track down the drug runners and bring them to justice. The dual motivations of Lucy were a perfect fit for Johansson as she is one of the few serious film actress who is unafraid to mix it up in action films.
Photo : Weinstein Co./Mediapro/Gravi/REX/Shutterstock
12. VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (2008)
Writer/Director: Woody Allen. Starring Javier Barden, Penélope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn.
In the third of her collaborations with Woody Allen, the Golden Globe-winning comedy “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Johansson plays a young tourist named Cristina who is traveling in Spain with her friend Vicky (Rebecca Hall). The women are approached by suave artist Juan Antonio who tries to seduce them, even though he is still emotionally tied to his gun-toting ex-wife Maria Elena (Oscar winner Penélope Cruz). While Vicky becomes engaged with her boyfriend, Cristina moves in with Juan Antonio and eventually Maria Elena. One of the better comedies from Allen’s European period.
Photo : Alison Cohen Rosa/Universal/REX/Shutterstock
11. HAIL, CAESAR! (2016)
Writers/Directors: Joel Ethan Coen. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill.
Johansson had a hilarious character part in the Coen Brothers’ 1950s-set Hollywood comedy as DeeAnna Moran, an Esther Williams-type aquatic movie star who has a squeaky-clean persona but who is secretly pregnant out-of-wedlock, a development that could ruin her public image and tank her popular movies. Johansson gives “America’s Sweetheart” DeeAnna a hilarious Brooklyn accent, even while she is chain-smoking and popping her gum. It’s a wonderfully broad turn by Johansson, revealing an unexpected slapstick side to her that we had never before seen.
Photo : Clive Coote/Jada Prods/BBC F/REX/Shutterstock
10. MATCH POINT (2005)
Writer/Director: Woody Allen. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox.
Johansson earned her third Golden Globe nomination for her dramatic performance in Woody Allen’s thriller, set in contemporary London. Wealthy Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) is taking tennis lessons from former tennis pro Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who is introduced to Tom’s American fiancée Nola Rice (Johansson), a struggling actress. Chris and Nora begin a torrid affair, despite the fact that Chris has also been seeing Tom’s older sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer). When Kate Winslet, who was originally cast as Nora, dropped out a week before shooting, Johansson quickly replaced her, but you’d never know — Johansson’s performance as the mistress is one of her most acclaimed of that decade.
Photo : ilmnation Entertainme/REX/Shutterstock
9. UNDER THE SKIN (2013)
Director: Jonathan Glazer. Writers: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer. Starring Scarlett Johansson.
Jonathan Glazer’s science-fiction film is certainly the most unusual film of Johansson’s career — in fact, it would likely be the most unusual film of any actress’s career. Johansson’s character, Laura, is the only character that is seen in the entire film and is an alien who works her way through a series of men in Scotland, finally killing many of them. Throughout the film, Johansson’s Laura is usually expressionless, calmly observing the human species under her next victim crosses her path. It’s a courageous approach to the character by Johansson, who usually relies greatly on facial expressiveness to reveal character, but it’s the right approach for Laura.
Photo : Courtesy of Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
8. MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE (MCU) (2010-2020)
Directors: Various. Writers: Various. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson.
After her character, superhero Natasha Romanoff (sometimes known as Black Widow), was first introduced in “Iron Man 2” (2010), Johansson reprised the character in four “Avengers” films (2012, 2015, 2018, 2019), two “Captain America” films (2014, 2016), as well as 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” Though she is usually seen as a member of a butt-kicking team, the focus at last will finally be on Natasha in the upcoming Marvel film “Black Widow” (2020), which takes place after the events of “Captain American: Civil War,” in which she becomes a fugitive and has to look within herself since she is now without her “Avengers” cohorts. The premise sounds intriguing and hopefully allow Johansson to dig even deeper into the character.
Photo : Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
7. GHOST WORLD (2001)
Director: Terry Zwigoff. Writers: Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff. Starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas, Steve Buscemi.
Johansson was only 16 when she made a huge art house splash in Terry Zwigoff’s cult comedy. Two best friends, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson), face a scary dilemma — what do we do after graduating high school? They’re both social outcasts, so they decide to room together, but they both realize that each one of them will have to find her own way. While Enid spends her time with an older man named Seymour (Steve Buscemi), Rebecca takes a more conventional route and soon begins to recognize that their choices are starting to pull their friendship apart. Though the film wasn’t a box office hit, “Ghost World” was widely admired within the industry, and soon Johansson’s career was on its way.
Photo : Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
6. GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING (2003)
Director: Peter Webber. Writer: Olivia Hetreed. Starring Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson, Judy Parfitt.
Inspired by the famous painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, “Girl With a Pearl Earring” proved to be a key film in broadening the scope of Johansson’s film career. Until this film, Johansson had been largely considered an actress who could only play contemporary roles (“Ghost World,” “Lost in Translation”), but she easily stepped into the shoes of Griet, a young woman in the 17th century who takes a job as a maid in the household of Vermeer (Colin Firth). The gist of the film then focuses on the events that led Vermeer to select Griet to become the subject of his most famous painting. Johansson’s performance in this period role was so impressive that she was nominated for her second BAFTA Award and nominated for her second Golden Globe Award.
Photo : Focus
5. ASTEROID CITY (2023)
Writer/Director: Wes Anderson. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Jake Ryan, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Liev Schriber, Hope Davis.
After voicing Nutmeg in Anderson’s 2018 “Isle of Dogs,” Johansson returns to his rep company with “Asteroid City,” where, despite Anderson’s typically crowded cast, she takes center stage as Midge, a celebrated actress who, as a star, can have anything she wants except for the one thing she actually needs. Her loneliness finds an spiritual ally in Augie (Jason Schwartzman), a war photographer still grieving the death of his wife, and together, they connect through their cabin windows in an effort to experience some genuine human contact. Despite all of the attention that Midge craves, Johansson allows us in to see every drop of loneliness that she’s feeling.
Photo : Fox Searchlight
4. JOJO RABBIT (2019
Writer/Director: Taika Waititi. Starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johanson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen.
For Taika Waititi’s dramatic comedy/satire set in the final months of Nazi Germany, Johansson earned one of her first two Academy Award nominations in 2019. Her performance as Rosie, the mother of 10 year-old Johannes (Roman Griffin Davis), derisively nicknamed “Jojo Rabbit” by his Nazi peers, initially looks to be exclusively maternal. But Johansson slowly reveals that Rosie has a secret, layering her characterization in such a way that when it becomes clear that she is working against the Nazi regime, it makes perfect sense. For his performance, Johansson has also received her third BAFTA nomination and has been nominated for her first individual SAG Award, as well as her first SAG Ensemble Award.
Photo : Annapurna Pictures/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
3. HER (2013)
Writer/Director: Spike Jonze. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson.
Spike Jonze’s science-fiction romance provided Johansson with one of the biggest acting challenges of her career. As an actress who is especially noted for her use of gestures and her facial expressiveness, Johansson could use none of those skills as Samantha, the disembodied voice of an artificial intelligence program being used by the lonely Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix). Samantha’s voice is seen as seductive by Theodore, and he begins to fall in love with Samantha as if she was a real person. Johansson keeps Samantha’s voice as sympathetic, all the while suggesting that this A.I. system may have an additional motive at work. It’s a triumph of voice acting for Johansson.
Photo : Yoshio Sato/Focus Features/REX/Shutterstock
2. LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003)
Writer/Director: Sofia Coppola. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris.
Johansson received her highest critical accolades to date in Sofia Coppola’s romantic comedy/drama about the growing relationship between two Americans in Tokyo. Aging movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is in Tokyo to film a Suntory whiskey commercial and staying in the same hotel as Charlotte, a young woman whose photographer husband John (Giovanni Ribisi) is often away on assignment in the city. The two meet in the hotel bar and quickly strike up a friendship, each confessing to the other about the emotional frustration they are enduring in their lives. With Coppola’s Oscar-winning script as a foundation, Murray and Coppola each offer a moving performance, and, as Charlotte, Johansson won her first BAFTA Award and received her first nomination for a Golden Globe.
Photo : Courtesy of Netflix
1. MARRIAGE STORY (2019)
Writer/Director: Noah Baumbach. Starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever.
Johannson received her second of two 2019 Academy Award nominations for performance as Nicole Barber, who was once known as a teen movie actress but who, anxious for credibility, moved to New York to do theatre. There she met and married Charlie (Adam Driver), an up and coming theater director, and their partnership brought both to new heights. But Nicole begins to feel that she has given up everything for Charlie’s dream, which has largely excluded her and their son Henry. She finally can take no more, and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” is actually the story of their divorce. Nicole provides Johansson with one of the most complex and moving characters she has ever played, and for her performance, she has also received her fourth BAFTA nomination, her fifth Golden Globe nomination, as well as being nominated for her third SAG Award.