Top Five is a new feature here on Filmophilia where we draw your attention to five memorable performances by a great actor or actress (you may remember a feature on Joseph Gordon-Levitt). This week we pay our respects to Scarlett Johansson.
Now hold up, didn’t you just read in the My Week with Marilyn trailer review that “the role of Marilyn was originally supposed to go to the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson, but with Michelle Williams we’re certainly getting a better actress“? Well, with all due respect to my fellow writers, and I don’t mean to slander Michelle either, she is a very good actress indeed, I have to say that I respectfully disagree. Here’s why I think Scarlett is not just a pretty face and a perfect body.
1. Lost in TranslationOne of my favorite movies of all time (yes, I’ve heard that “nothing happens in it”, action is not the point of the movie), Lost in Translation tells a beautiful “love story” of two people who can’t seem to find themselves but find each other instead. Set in the gorgeously buzzing Tokyo, Scarlett portrays the just-finished-my-degree-what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life-riddled Charlotte effortlessly. In fact, it seems so effortless you might think there was nothing to her acting. But you’d be mistaken.
3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Another film featuring both Rebecca Hall and Johansson. The two play friends who travel to Barcelona, only to find themselves tangled in a web of spanish love, who they both have for the same man, Juan (Javier Bardem). Vicky (Rebecca) pulls out, but Cristina (Scarlett) is drawn into a love triangle between Juan, herself and his ex-wife Maria (Penelópe Cruz). It all plays out in a very entertaining way and Woody Allen plays to Scarlett’s innocent sexuality perfectly. See Match Point as well for a more dangerous Scarlett (she’s pretty amazing in that film) and an even more entertaining Allen.
4. The Man Who Wasn’t There
Possibly the most underrated Coen brothers’ film to date. As with every one of their films, this is a tale of greed and the hope for sudden wealth. Billy Bob Thornton shows us once and for all why Angelina Jolie fell in love with him as he portrays Ed Crane, a barber who seems to drift through life until he finds his wife cheating on him with her boss, and decides to blackmail him. Scarlett plays the beautiful and innocent pianist Birdy and a daughter to his friend. Ed wants to give the talented girl more opportunities than a small town can grant her but, like everything else in his life, that goes horribly wrong. You might think Scarlett’s role in this film is a bit “blink and you miss it” but I can’t recommend this film enough, and her performance in it, albeit short, is amazing.