F-Marry-Kill is a new little column in which we quickly look over the career of a talent and categorize their works. F: You could probably like it, but there’s not much to brag about. Marry: This is really worth it, and you should experience it. Kill: That didn’t go well. Note: I won’t list everything the particular talent has been involved in, only stuff I’ve seen myself. Feel free to voice your own opinion!
Okay, let’s do this!
The Chosen One:
Probably one of the most gifted Tom Waits cover song singers there is, Johansson certainly belongs among the most distinctive voices, faces, and bodies of her generation. She has famously starred in a movie about giant spiders, she once had a serious part in a movie in which Samuel L. Jackson beats the shit out of someone with a toilet, and she had to realize that He’s Just Not That Into You. She’s only 30 years old, and if she were to suddenly end her career with the upcoming Jungle Book remake (in which she voices the snake), she could proudly look back on having participated in at least four unforgettable masterpieces.
Let’s have a look at Johansson’s filmography.
These are her watchable works:
Avengers – Age of Ultron: Yes, Natasha’s arc is the most interesting aspect in the movie. Ultron himself though is a highly flawed character. For an eight foot tall android made of nearly indestructible medal, he’s a lousy fighter, and for a madman who threatens to cause global extinction, he never really comes off as truly threatening. Spader does a great job voicing him, but Ultron is just full of shit, especially when it comes to philosophy. It could have been better if Whedon had gone for laughs and fun only, but there’s too much implicated danger. We’re supposed to be thrilled, but it’s impossible, just like the title literally means nothing. No MCU character MCU aside from Wanda will remember the famous “Age of Ultron”. We will, but not as something important.
Chef: Jon Favreau wrote and directed this fast food praising movie in which he gets to snuggle with both Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara. Now all of that happens offscreen, but you can certainly feel Favreau’s big grin all the way through. And his joy for both that and the food is really infectious, making you forget that the movie is rather one-note.
Don Jon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed a movie as well, and he too asked Johansson to play his love interest (note to myself: write and direct a movie, then cast Scarlett Johansson). In contrast to Favreau though, he doesn’t praise fast food. Instead, it’s about addiction to online pornography. Which, yeah, is an odd conflict to have for a character when he’s bedding sex symbol Scarlett Johansson. Don Jon is not a big deal, but it’s a surprisingly non-corny, non-cynical deconstruction of finding sense.
Eight-Legged Freaks: A fun throwback to cheesy 50s horror such as Them! or Tarantula, starring WCW World Heavyweight Champion David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, and a teenage Johansson. It’s weaker than Arachnophobia, and not that much better than Big Ass Spider, but it does its job.
Hitchcock: Compared to other biopics, this ode to Alfred Hitchcock is surprisingly superficial and light. It does address Hitch’s hobby of creepily stalking his leading ladies, but it mostly goes for laughs. This is not a movie that wants to paint the master in a bad light. Johansson is Janet Leigh, the Psycho shower girl, and she does show a lot of talent in the shower scene.
Iron Man II: You probably expected this one in the kill section, right? I gotta admit, I thought about it. It is a weak MCU movie. The introduction of Black Widow is clonky, they do waste an obviously well-prepared Mickey Rourke. Cheadle had no chemistry with Downey yet, and the showdown is a letdown. Still, Downey and Rockwell are really entertaining in this and Favreau’s directing is fine.
Just Cause: No relation to the video game series. Johansson was eleven and had a small role in a Sean Connery thriller. It’sh a sholid movie!
Lucy: Luc Besson’s surprising return as an action director is a total blast. Just don’t expect realism.
The Island: Michael Bay’s attempt at a more sophisticated tale didn’t stimulate intellectually, but it has a killer score and it looks gorgeous. Random anecdote: for her sex scene with Ewan McGregor, Johansson offered to go full topless. Bay said no thanks.
The Perfect Score: Johansson and Captain America play high school kids who attempt to cheat the SAT’s. The heist itself doesn’t matter that much and is executed rather corny, it’s more of a “what are we gonna do with our lives after school’s over” talk without any depth. It does fly by quickly though.
These are most certainly the best she’s done:
Captain America – The Winter Soldier: Garry Shandling’s best movie ever, hands down.
Ghost World: Witty adaptation of the clever graphic novel. Pop culture has completely forgotten it by now, but it’s really good.
Her: Johansson voices an operating system Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with. It might sound dumb, but it’s a masterfully told dystopia disguised as a truly sweet character study.
Lost in Translation: We’ll always have Tokyo.
Match Point: I bet most of you haven’t seen this one. Yes, it does look like the other tennis themed romance movie of that time, Wimbledon starring Kirsten Dunst, but it is not. It’s a really mean take on Johansson’s He’s Just Not That Into You.
The Avengers: …
The Prestige: I know everyone loves The Dark Knight to death, and so do I, but after the dust has settled, this story of two hateful illusionists trying to outdo each other might eventually go down in movie history as Christopher Nolan’s best movie.
Under the Skin: If you haven’t watched this yet, clear your evening and finally watch this. It is a dark, depressing movie, but boy is it worth it. It’s quiet, uncomfortable, full of weird, vague scenes, and even though Johansson goes full frontal in this it’s no exploitation. The soundtrack is one of the best of the last decade, and it has haunting images you’ll never forget. If you “enjoyed” Only God Forgives and Mulholland Drive, it’s a must-see.
A Love Song for Bobby Long: This John Travolta affair tries hard to leave a powerful, weary impression, and both Travolta and Johansson are actually good in this. However, the movie isn’t able to stir up any true emotions, and it’s a slog to sit through.
North: Let’s just say that Scarlett Johansson didn’t exactly make the best choices at 10.
Scoop: Here’s a scoop for you – avoid the bland rom-com murder mystery that is Scoop. It’s lower tier Woody Allen.
The Black Dahlia: This Brian de Palma project was a tragic disappointment. You can spot all the traces of what could have been a great movie, but it just never added up.
The Spirit: That’s the one with the toilet smashing. It felt like a bad rip-off of Sin City, and it kinda is, as Frank Miller imitates his previous work to adapt another writer, but after Sin City 2 you can’t really decide which is worse.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Another Woody Allen collaboration. I’d argue it’s the weakest of the Johansson/Allen trilogy, and I’m not even a fan of the Academy Award winning performance of Penelope Cruz.
We Bought a Zoo: So cute you’ll develop caries. This is a movie for people who have to take breaks throughout Pixar movies because it’s just too much to handle.
Overall, Scarlett Johansson has an impressive filmography, especially for a 30 year old. She does have a few weak spots on her list, but especially lately she’s made some great decisions and we should expect to get even more of that. I highly doubt that Rupert Sanders will do Ghost in the Shell justice. However, Johansson should be a great choice for the main role if she absolutely has to be Caucasian for the live action version. She’s a great actress and we can be glad that she’s around.
So, what do you think of Scarlett’s career so far?