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

    The Nanny Diaries


    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

    Hail, Caesar!


    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

    Ghost World


    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

    Don Jon


    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

    Captain America: Civil War


    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



    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

    Match Point



    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



    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

    Lost in Translation


    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

    Under the Skin



    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.