Seven performances that show why Scarlett Johansson is the world's most successful actress

The 'Lost in Translation' star has become the first woman to ever break into the top 10 highest grossing actors

According to ticket sales tabulated by Box Office Mojo, Scarlett Johansson has become the first female movie star to ever break into the top 10 highest grossing actors of all time, having banked more than $3.3bn (€2.96bn). The 32-year-old actress knocks Gary Oldman out of the top 10, in a list dominated by veteran actors with an average age of 64.

Johansson’s box-office clout is largely due to her involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which she plays the non-superpowered superspy Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow. The actress has starred in five of the Marvel movies, with her last turn as Black Widow netting more than $1.1bn at the global box office in Captain America: Civil War.

After Johansson, only eight other actresses break into the top 50: Cameron Diaz (19), Helena Bonham Carter (26), Cate Blanchett (29), Julia Roberts (30), Elizabeth Banks (31), Emma Watson (32), Sandra Bullock (47), and Anne Hathaway (50).

Johansson’s versatility as a dramatic actress, comedienne, sex symbol, and skilled vocal performer means she deserves a spot in the top 10. Here is our pick of seven Scarlett Johansson performances that make her the real deal.

  • As Barbara in Don Jon (2013)

This breezy romantic comedy is mostly remembered as actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first feature film, and tells the story of a New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, his church, and an insatiable habit for pornography. Gordon-Levitt and Julianne Moore put in solid performances as Jon and the enigmatic Esther, but it’s Johansson’ Barbara who steals every scene she’s in – in a movie packed with character actors like Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, and Brie Larson. Exploiting her beauty and comedic timing, and slinging a thick Jersey shore accent, her turn as a master manipulator looking to lock down what she wants is a pitch perfect.

  • As Samantha is Her (2013)

Coming late to the game in Spike Jonze’s modern masterpiece – British actress Samantha Morton had already recorded the entire part before the role was recast – Johansson charms utterly as a piece of artificial intelligence who becomes Joaquin Phoenix’s soul mate. A complicated narrative and incisive look at how technology and humanity interact, Johansson’s Samantha dominates the entire film as only an unseen voice, lending incredible pathos and depth to an, admittedly, perfectly written role.

  • As Natasha in Avengers Assemble (2012)

That all the world building that had been laid down in the lead up to Marvel’s giant risk take paid off now really seems like no surprise. But that Johansson, as one of only two non-superpowered heroes in the line-up and the only woman, would so utterly dominate the film is. Going toe to toe with seasoned zinger slingers like Robert Downey Jr, Black Widow more than holds her own in Joss Whedon’s film – she often shows the rest of the team how it’s done.

  • As Charlotte in Lost in Translation (2003)

While not Johansson’s cinematic début – nor even the first critical smash to turn audiences on to her as an electric screen presence – this is arguably the film that put her on the map to superstardom. A quiet turn opposite a never-better Bill Murray, the film tells the story of two emotionally displaced Americans, worlds apart, staying in the same hotel in Tokyo and drawn together. The movie that turned Murray into an indie darling and copper fastened Sofia Coppola as a new auteur, Johansson holds the whole thing together as the straight man to Murray’s more comedic part.

  • As The Female in Under the Skin (2013)

Post-Avengers, having helped bank a billion dollars, Johansson proved herself a force to be reckoned with when it comes to picking interesting and challenging parts. In the same year that her voice made Her something special, she appeared in Under the Skin, a baffling and utterly tense sci-fi drama. Part improvisational art project, part WTF did I just watch, the film sees Johansson drive around Scotland, picking up lonely men and bringing them back to her house. With very little dialogue and paired back style, Johansson is a chilling screen presence who lingers long after the credits and rolled.

  • As Rebecca in Ghost World (2001)

Arguably her first comic book movie, Ghost World is cut from a very different cloth than the Avengers franchise. Opposite Thora Birch’s unforgettable turn as Enid, Johansson plays second fiddle admirably in the tale of two high school graduates navigating the first waves of adulthood. While Enid’s life changes when she meets Steve Buscemi’s Seymour, Rebecca confronts reality and goes to work. The interplay between the two leads as they battle to save their friendship or accept that sometimes they don’t survive makes for excellent viewing.

  • As Lucy in Lucy

Granted, this one is not for everyone – the film is essentially about an all-knowing, omnipotent, transcendental USB stick – the film deserves attention for showing that Johansson can bring home the bacon going it alone. A star vehicle led entirely by her guileless drug smuggler, Lucy brought home a very respectable $460m at the global box office, establishing Johansson as a tent-pole movie star capable of carrying a franchise by herself. French director Luc Besson has confirmed a sequel is coming, but time will tell whether or not Johansson signs on.

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