Critic's Picks: Scarlett Johansson's 10 Best Performances

9:00 AM 3/31/2017

by Leslie Felperin

As the actress hits theaters with 'Ghost in the Shell,' THR film critic Leslie Felperin ranks her best roles.

  1. 10
    10

    The Nanny Diaries

    2007

    Weinstein Co./Photofest

    Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's follow-up to their acclaimed American Splendor got mostly negative reviews, but that certainly wasn't the fault of their star. In an interesting bit of against-type casting, the actress effortlessly grounds the film as a mousy graduate who stumbles into the richest niche of Upper East Side society by taking a nanny job. Her rapport with young Nicholas Art is lovely.

  2. 9
    10

    Hail, Caesar!

    2016

    Universal Pictures/Photofest

    Playing a knocked-up, Esther Williams-like bathing-suited beauty with a filthy mouth and squawking Nu Yawk accent in the Coen brothers' comedy, Johansson is very funny — and gone all too quickly from the story.

  3. 8
    10

    Ghost World

    2001

    United Artists/Photofest

    Johansson was a star from the age of 9, but her real breakout came in her teen years in Terry Zwigoff's adaptation of Daniel Clowes' graphic novel. She makes a great double act with co-star Thora Birch as they compete to see who can deliver the most withering teenage putdown with the least amount of affect in her voice.

  4. 7
    10

    Don Jon

    2013

    Relativity Media/Photofest

    Showing off impressive comic chops, Johansson is a hoot as a Jersey girl bombshell who makes co-star and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt's porn addict jump through every kind of hoop before she’ll put out for him. In her hands, the broadly written character has soul and smarts.

  5. 6
    10

    Captain America: Civil War

    2016

    Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest

    As Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow, Johansson projects a slippery intelligence and steely resolve, flaunted to great effect in this most recent installment when Romanoff uses her political skill to unite the fractured superhero team.

  6. 5
    10

    Lucy

    2014

    Universal Pictures/Photofest

    This silly exercise in style over substance finds Johansson playing a drug mule who becomes a kind of kick-ass deity when one of the substances implanted in her leaks. But the star's athleticism and charisma help turn the movie into a delicious guilty pleasure.

  7. 4
    10

    Match Point

    2005

    DreamWorks/Photofest

    Johansson shines as a vampish, vulnerable American in London who embarks on an affair with Jonathan Rhys Meyers' upwardly mobile tennis pro in Woody Allen's study of crime and punishment.

  8. 3
    10

    Her

    2013

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    Even though only Johansson's husky voice is heard in Spike Jonze's sci-fi romance, she completely holds her own as an artificially intelligent operating system with whom user Joaquin Phoenix falls, understandably, in love.

  9. 2
    10

    Lost in Translation

    2003

    Focus Features/Photofest

    Johansson's sweet-sour blend of gawkiness and gravel-voiced street smarts makes her utterly compelling as a young wife adrift in Tokyo — and carrying on a flirtation with Bill Murray’s much older movie star — in Sofia Coppola's near-romance.

  10. 1
    10

    Under the Skin

    2014

    A24/Photofest

    Arguably Johansson's most subtle and nuanced performance was as an alien on the prowl for man-meat in Jonathan Glazer's slow-burn sci-fi. The role maximally exploits both the actress' uncanny beauty and her earthy vulnerability — as well as her easy rapport with the nonprofessional castmembers (some of whom had no idea who she was while shooting) adds a welcome warmth to what is often a deeply disturbing, ultimately unforgettable film.

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