This week's big(?) movie release is Ghost In The Shell, an adaptation of the iconic manga/anime. The film has seen its fair share of controversy and struggle, while moving through the pipeline of big Hollywood production; yet, Ghost In The Shell currently holds a 3.54/5 rating in our User Anticipation Database, suggesting that there is definitely interest in this film - even if it is within the limited span of a niche audience.
But if there's one thing that can help GITS draw in a mainstream crowd, it's having a mega-star like Scarlett Johansson leading it. Even if her casting as "The Major" has sparked yet another whitewashing controversy for the month of March (see also: Iron Fist), Johansson is a bonafide box office draw - especially when she's mixed up in gunplay/fistacuffs (see: Avengers, Captain America).
As Ghost In The Shell nears release, we're looking back over ScarJo's impressive career to grade her various movie roles and performances. Here is our Big Screen Scoreboard for Scarlett Johansson.
More Ghost in the Shell:
This 2001 Terry Zwigoff comic book adaptation served as an indie movie breakout for Johansson, who was nearly ten years into her career at that point (at the tender age of seventeen).
Ghost World became a cult-hit amongst the millennial generation and film snobs, helping propel Johansson towards an even bigger indie movie hit (see: next page). In the film, she's actually a lot less dynamic than her co-star Thora Birch, who provides a lot of the energy that made Ghost World a cult-movie hit with hipsters everywhere.
Lost In Translation
Sofia Coppola's 2003 Bill Murray vehicle became an Oscar-winning sensation, which also happened to launch Scarlett Johansson to true Hollywood stardom. In the film, she plays the young (and naive) wife of an entertainment photographer, who is left behind in a Tokyo hotel while her husband is on assignment.
Wandering through the life junction that is the hotel, Johansson stumbles upon a faded Hollywood star played by Murray, and the two lonely souls form an odd connection, making movie magic with their electric (yet wholesome) chemistry.
If you haven't seen the film, do so immediately: it will make you fall in love with ScarJo all over again... and possibly Bill Murray, as well.
Scarlett got her first big taste of (what is now her signature) action movie stardom with this 2005 Michael Bay film.
It wasn't one of Bay's better films (a somewhat forgettable clone/chase story with Johansson and Ewan McGregor), but it probably was a good lesson for Scarlett on what kind of roles she was willing to play. She's favored geek-friendly genre flicks over generic action movies, ever since.
Johansson held her own in a top-notch ensemble during this 2006 cult-hit film from Chris Nolan. And with co-stars as big as Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and even the late David Bowie, that's really saying something!
Scarlett's role wasn't as big (or as sexy) as many fans would've probably liked - but as a stage assistant playing both sides in a war between Bale and Jackman's magician characters, she was (as intended) a lovely distraction from the darker realities of The Prestige's story.
This was her first turn as Woody Allen's "muse" of the late 2000s (see also: Vicky Cristina Barcelona), but dammit if this wasn't also the steamiest!
In the movie, Johansson plays a struggling American actress who has landed a wealthy elite British suitor. It seems all is well, until a struggling Irish tennis star played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers comes into the picture, dating Johansson's soon-to-be sister-in-law.
What ensues is a big crash of intersecting love triangles, featuring Johansson and Meyers in some some steamy love scenes. It's easy to see from Match Point why Woody Allen was so inspired by Johansson that he kept working with her. Her beauty and charisma are off the charts.
Iron Man 2
Scarlett's career really entered a new phase when she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the 2010 sequel, Iron Man 2.
Marvel tried to brand her as "Natalie Rushman," Tony Stark's new secretary - but that was back when the studio still didn't understand its rabid fanbase's obsession with uncovering secrets and spoilers: we all knew pretty quickly that Johansson was Marvel's Black Widow.
While most of her Iron Man 2 screen time is pretty subdued (as is the entire film, really), Scarlett really earned her place in the MCU with a climatic hallway fight sequence, which instantly made Black Widow look like a total sexy badass character.
Still one of the best character introductions in MCU history (and worst wigs)!
The Avengers Franchise
We're just going to lump all of Johansson's Avengers and Captain America franchise appearances after Iron Man 2 into one page, because really it's been one long character arc for the actress.
Johansson's Black Widow has been such a badass, well-layered, smart and all-around cool character that she's also become one of the most prevalent in MCU movies!
With each new layer and reveal, Widow gets a little more relatable, lovable, and interesting. Now all we need is for her to get her own movie, Netflix series, something...
Scarlett Johansson is also great at playing sassy, crass, New York/Jersey types, as seen most recently in The Coen Bros.' Hail Caesar! and some funny SNL skits. However, she really took that persona far in Joseph Gordon Levitt's 2013 directorial debut, Don Jon.
In the film, Johansson plays Barbara, a no-nonsense Jersey girl princess type, who is the challenging conquest of Levitt's ladies man character, Don. In a hilarious turn, Johansson starts out as a thick-brogue sweet traditional Italian girl; however, when she has her claws firmly into Don, she instantly becomes a man-eating, dragon-lady overlord, constantly dictating the terms of Don's behavior and their relationship.
If you've ever wanted to see Johansson get "street," or play a mean girl villain type, then Don Jon is a great showcase of that comedic persona the actress keeps tucked in her back pocket. The only question is: given Johansson's New Yorker background, how much of the real her are we seeing?
Under the Skin
A lot of people thought this was going to be a prime opportunity to see Johansson onscreen in the buff - and while those moments definitely occur, they don't happen quite the way that people probably hope...
Director Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi/horror arthouse film cleverly uses Johansson's image as a sex symbol as metaphor for the feminine power - but what a lot of people got was a movie that was much weirder and not nearly as titillating as they wanted.
Oddly enough, Johansson is almost as robotic in it as she is in Ghost In The Shell...
Scarlett Johansson doesn't have to physically be onscreen to make a hit movie; as Spike Jonze's Oscar-winning 2013 film proves, just the sound of her voice is enough to entice viewers.
In Her, Johansson plays "Samantha" an A.I. companion in a near future where smartphone devices are a lot smarter, and more personable than the Siri of today. When Joaquin Phoenix's lonely and tech-obsessed writer character brings home the new Samantha operating system, she instantly begins to fill the void left in his heart from a bad breakup.0comments
The film is sold in part because of Phoenix's ability to masterfully act onscreen alone a lot of the time, but the real magic of the story comes from the warmth and personality in Johansson's Samantha; we fall in love with her even as Phoenix's character does.
...Things admittedly get a little weird when ScarJo has to perform a vocal sex scene (yup), but all in all, Her proves her mere presence (physical or not) is enough to make a film great.prev