Scarlett Johansson is undoubtedly one of the most successful actresses of her generation. Johansson’s acting career began at the age of 9 when she played John Ritter‘s daughter in the fantasy comedy North (1994). Since then, there was no looking back, and her career has ranged from Oscar recognition to blockbuster success to silly comedies.
Johansson’s breakthrough role came in the form of a skeptical outcast teenager in Terry Zwigoff‘s dark comedy Ghost World (2001). The film gained her widespread recognition and she slowly transitioned into more adult roles. At the age of 17, she starred in the romantic comedy-drama Lost in Translation. Although it was one of her first mature roles, her performance stirred the audience and critics alike, spreading her fame like wildfire. The film was a huge success and won various accolades, and made Johansson a household name.
Johansson made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Iron Man 2 (2010) as the female superhero Black Widow. The MCU’s tremendous success transcended all boundaries and languages, and Black Widow turned into a pop culture icon. The recent Black Widow movie has been a huge success as well, the action-packed family drama starring Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour appeased audiences who have been waiting years for Black Widow to get her own movie.
However, Johansson had already established herself as one of the greatest female talents in Hollywood way before her entry into the MCU. So we bring to you a list of 9 amazing movies from Johansson’s filmography that might have escaped your attention. They range from dramas to romcoms to hard sci-fi, but they all have one thing in common: great Scarlett Johansson performances.
A Love Song for Bobby Long
A Love Song for Bobby Long is one of those movies where Johansson outshines her co-stars as an actor. The 2005 film is based on the novel Off Magazine Street by Ronald Everett Capps. It tells the story of an 18-year-old Purslane “Pursy” Hominy Will (Scarlett Johansson), who drops out of school to go back to her mother’s dilapidated home after her death. She is surprised to find two strangers – Bobby Long (John Travolta), a former professor of literature at Auburn University, and his protégé and former teaching assistant, Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht), a struggling writer – living there already. They convince her it was her mother’s will and they start out on an unusual journey as they slowly begin to accept each other. Johansson was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for her performance in this film.
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Often regarded as one of Johansson’s best films, The Girl with a Pearl Earring takes inspiration from a novel that was based on the creation of a real-life painting of the same name. Johansson stars as Griet, a young 17th-century maid in the household of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth) when he painted Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) in the city of Delft in Holland. Their complicated relationship causes an uproar in the Vermeer household as well as in the life of Griet. The critics at the time loved her performance and were highly impressed by how she perfectly balanced the feelings of fear, ignorance, curiosity and lust. The film was subsequently nominated for ten British Academy Film Awards, three Academy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards, and Johansson earned a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination.
Directed by Woody Allen, Match Point is a 2006 psychological thriller film that deals with themes of morality, greed, and the roles of lust, money, and luck in life. Allen was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the movie. The film revolves around Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a retired tennis player who married into a wealthy family. However, his social position is threatened by his affair with his brother-in-law’s fiancée Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson). Johansson’s performance as Nola solidified her position as an A-list actress in Hollywood.
A live-action adaptation of Christine Leunen‘s 2008 book Caging Skies, Jojo Rabbit is a satirical-drama film written and directed by Taika Watiti. Johansson’s role as a mom is highly underrated in this movie. The story explores the life of a ten-year-old Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) in the fictional town of Falkenheim. He joins the Deutsches Jungvolk, the junior section of the Hitler Youth. Heavily indoctrinated with Nazi ideals, he creates an imaginary friend, Adolf (Taika Watiti), a buffoonish version of Adolf Hitler. At a training camp run by Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), he is nicknamed “Jojo Rabbit” after refusing to kill a rabbit to prove his worthiness. His mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is secretly Anti-Nazi and is hiding a young Jewish girl Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie) at their house. The movie deals with conflicting ideals and emotional drama in a comical way, and it won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards.
He’s Just Not That Into You
He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) is a collection of nine romantic-comedy stories about nine people and their varying relationship problems. The film boasts an incredible acting roster that includes Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Kris Kristofferson, and Justin Long. Gigi (Goodwin), a common link amongst the characters, is followed more closely than the other eight people and has a more developed storyline as she consistently misreads all of her romantic partners’ feelings. Johansson plays Anna, who is stuck in a love triangle with Ben (Cooper) and his wife Janine (Connelly). The movie shows how these characters deal with their emotions while trying to avoid embarrassing situations. It received a mixed critical response but was a box office hit. The chemistry between Johansson and Cooper on-screen is both appealing and fun to watch. The film brings out the boldness of Johansson’s character with grace, something that her fans truly love in her roles.
Under The Skin
One of the most underrated performances of Scarlett Johansson’s career, this movie was greatly praised for its concept as well as Johansson’s incredible acting. Loosely based on a science fiction novel of the same name, Under The Skin was directed by Jonathan Glazer. It took over a decade to develop the movie, and it was well-received by the critics due to Johansson’s performance, Glazer’s direction, and Mica Levi‘s score. Johansson plays the role of an extraterrestrial being who takes the form of a woman on earth. She tries to blend in with humans, but has to consume men for survival. Through various mishaps, the movie tries to provide an alien perspective of the human world. The movie was named the best film of the year by various critics and publications, was included in many best-of-the-decade lists, and was ranked 61st on the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century list. However, it was a box-office failure, grossing only about $7 million on a budget of $13.3 million. If you are a fan of Scarlett Johansson’s, this movie is definitely worth a watch.
Ghost World (2001) is a 2001 dark comedy film directed by Terry Zwigoff and starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi based on a comic book of the same name. The movie focuses on the lives of Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson), two teenage girls who are considered outcasts at their school in a fictional American city. They slowly grow distant as Enid begins to take interest in an older man named Seymour (Buscemi) after making a prank call, and decides to help him with his romantic life. The film bombed at the box office, but was widely acclaimed for its edgy story and Johansson’s performance. It is one of those movies that served as a beacon for Johansson’s bright future in the film industry, and is definitely one of her best roles from her teenage period.
A somewhat underrated film, The Prestige is an understated masterpiece. Directed by Christopher Nolan and set in 1890s London, the movie tells the story of two rival magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) who develop hatred towards each other after several unfortunate incidents. They both compete against each other to perfect a seemingly impossible magic trick. Borden is the first to execute it on stage properly, and Angier out of jealousy sends his assistant Olivia Wenscombe (Johansson) to spy on him. However, Olivia falls in love with Borden and becomes his assistant. The film keeps the audience hooked till the end, slowly revealing there’s more to the story than meets the eye. It garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography.
A sci-fi movie at core mixed with romantic drama, Her (2013) provided the viewers with a different look at the rise of artificial intelligence, and its role and increasing involvement in human lives. Directed, written, and produced by Spike Jonze, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Olivia Wild, and Chris Pratt. The story focuses on Theodore Twombly (Phoenix), a lonely, introverted, and depressed man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Johansson), an A.I. virtual assistant humanized through a female voice. Although Johansson is not physically present in the movie, her dexterity with her voice in the film is simply magnificent. The film premiered at the 8th Rome International Film Festival, where Johansson won Best Actress; she was also nominated for the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her was a financial success, and won the award for Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards.