Monday, November 10, 2014

One Look: The Scarlett Johansson Chronicles


It started with a brilliant idea from the glorious Brittani over at Rambling Film.  She posted this great post on Brilliant Acting with Just One Look, inspired by the wonderful work David Fincher does with his actors.  Then, Ruth over at Flixchatter followed suit, presenting us with her 10 Brilliant Acting Performances Defined by One Look.

Then this happened:



 I meant to do this sooner, and then Sati over at Cinematic Corner posted her Brilliant Acting Defined by One Look and I thought...DO THIS NOW!

So here I am.

So basically the idea is to draw attention to actors who have used a simple look to convey so much in a simple scene.  Sometimes an actor walks away with an entire movie just by the way they stare right into your soul.  For me, one actress who has the ability to say so much with just her face, is Scarlett Johansson.  She's used this gift in so many spectacular ways, and so I decided to dedicate this entire idea to her brilliance.

So here is a Top Ten of Scarlett's use of One Look:



The Avengers
I love this.  Scarlett, with just a simple raise of the eyebrows, let's us in on her little secret.  She has this whole thing under control, and any ounce of dominance her aggressor feels he has over her is all in his head and is only there because she is allowing it.  

Lucy
We're going to look at all of this rather progressively, so moving on from the obvious 'don't be stupid' eyebrow raise, Scarlett teases her aggressor here, clearly in the know of how well she's going to overtake him, and fully aware that he's far too arrogant to understand he's about to lose.  Look at the way she utilizes that side smirk AND that wide eyed wink (OMG, she's winking even though she's NOT winking).  

Ghost World
Alright, so here we are slipping away from the brilliant taunt and getting into her ability to lure.  Again, we're going to look at this rather progressively, so let's start with this almost afterthought in Ghost World.  I love the way that she rattles on and then throws in that single eyebrow raise to let us know that she's in on her own joke.  She knows how to sell it, and in that one almost nonchalant expression, she adds so many layers to this one character.  It seems so simple and so unimportant and yet it tells us so much.

Match Point
And now she's fully aware of her allure.  She's moved into full on tease territory.  She understands EXACTLY what she's doing to your pants, and she knows how to make that work to her advantage.  Look at the way she purses her lips, but there is an innocence in it, a naturalism.  This isn't some fake try-hard.  She just oozes sex...it just happens.

Don Jon
But, when she does try hard, she makes it look so damn easy.  Yup, let's push that allure one step further into full on bombshell territory where she's actively SEEKING to let you know that she knows she has you on a leash.  She's not being coy about shit anymore.  Look at her eyes.  She is having a full on conversation with your wallet, your car keys and your cock just with the way she's moving those eyes.

We're going to switch up things a little bit and talk about the more emotional side of Scarlett.  So many balk at her being this actress who sells nothing but sex, but UM NO, she's more than that.  As a segue, let's get Scarlett's own reaction to the BS talk about her being a one trick pony.


Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Moving on...

The Other Boleyn Girl
The best part about this whole moment is that Scarlett doesn't move her eyes or her mouth, but is saying so much just with the muscles in her neck.  Like, OMG, she's emoting such deep seated sorrow from a dramatic standpoint without resorting to overbearing theatrics.

Girl with the Pearl Earring
So here any and all dramatics are pulled back for such deterioration of emotion in a single, breathless moment.  The way she speaks to her own sexual awakening, her lost innocence and her complete unawareness of her own allure, Johansson breathes such rich character development in a single look.

Lost in Translation
Talk about a look that absolutely KILLS ME, this final moment between Johansson and Murray is such a marvelous moment for the both of them, and a single look (both give it) that sums up their entire character in a perfect end note.  You feel the relationship they built and the pain in their hearts as they depart for their inevitability.  It's a feeling you can't shake, looking into their eyes, feeling everything they're feeling.  It's pure, organic and raw, and in that moment these characters become reality for the audience.  We understand them.

Under the Skin
It feels almost appropriate to end this post with her most recent performance because, with this performance, her career feels like it has reached a point of full understanding of her gifts, and this moment, in this film, is like a scene of complete awakening, complete understanding.  When she sees her own reflection, it's as if everything that came before finally falls into place and life as she (and we) know it will never be the same.  Notice the way her eyes narrow in on what she's embracing, something inside, something stirring in her soul.

So, I hope that this was a fun read for everyone.  I hope that this did justice to your initial post, Brittani!  

18 comments:

  1. Shit, I can't think of anything wrong w/ that list and to me, this is an example into why Scarlett is one of the best actresses... e-e-e-e-ever!!! The way she has that one look in her performances just goes to show how fucking good she is. There's some other one-look performances that Scarlett has done that I think is overlooked. The way she stares at a milk carton in Manny & Lo (which I'm re-watching right now), the way she smirks at Nastassja Kinski about how her family escaped in An American Rhapsody, and the way she stares at Pilgrim as she hesitantly feeds him in The Horse Whisperer. Shit, she could probably do a staring contest for a film and still blow away nearly every so-called actress that is in Hollywood right now.

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    1. She had so many to choose from, and I had the one from The Horse Whisperer ready to go for a few minutes before switching it out. She really is incredible, and I'm SO EFFING HAPPY that she's experiencing the career resurgence she deserves.

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    2. And I should note that I made a list of her performances from best to worst here.

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    3. I'll be heading over there in a momento!

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  2. Ahh I love that you actually did this! Excellent choices. I forgot how good she was in Girl With the Pearl Earring.

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    1. Her 2003 year topples nearly every other 'great year' any actress has had in recent memory.

      Take that Jessica Chastain!

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  3. She is an excellent actress and it shows that she can do quiet films like "The Girl With The Pearl Earring" to be a full on super hero gal in "Iron Man" and the other films of this style. She is one that can show so many emotions without breathing a word. She would be an excellent silent actress

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    1. It would be a dream to see Scarlett tackle a silent film! I'm really excited to see her in The Coen Brother's next film, which is set in Old Hollywood. She should NAIL the part.

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  4. You've outdone yourself Drew!! Glad you decided to take up your own challenge, ahah. There are some movies of hers I haven't seen yet but that one from Don Jon is absolutely spot on! I totally remember that scene and I thought, boy she's got Don hooked on her little finger in that very moment ;)

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    1. Yeah, that moment in Don Jon is classic greatness!

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  5. This list is flawless! I haven't seen some of the movies you've mentioned, but she looks amazing in them all the same! My favorite look from the list would have to be The Other Boleyn Girl.

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    1. I love how that movie itself is so tacky and yet her performance is really pitch perfect. It's on another level. She acts circles around the cast and breathes such life into that character.

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  6. Brilliant list! Now I want to rewatch Under the Skin, which I've been flirting with moving back to my #1. :)

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    1. There are only two films that I have a feeling could threaten Under the Skin winning the Fisti BP this year...one is by my beloved Dolen and one is about a washed up superhero.

      But we shall see.

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    2. Which Dolan? Mommy or Tom at the Farm? I'm guessing the former, but it isn't coming out in the U.S. until 2015.

      That other one might be my new #1. I had Boyhood at #2, but it's probably at #4 now. Currently I'm circling around Birdman, Calvary and Under the Skin for the top spot.

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    3. Latest word is that Mommy is getting a qualifying LA release end of December, to open wide early next year.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3612616/releaseinfo?ref_=tt_dt_dt

      Looks like the studio is trying to push Dorval into the shallow pool of Lead Actress contenders.

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  7. Wow when I read you're gonna do a post just on her I thought this will be on my levels of filthy but this is really lovely!

    Spot on choices too, I really like about her how she is both so sexy but also so i don't know, compassionate, friendly. It really shows in her work as Black Widow - in all 3 movies she managed to build this really cool 'I care about' you thing with three different Avengers, I like how she worked with Ruffalo in Avengers the most, it's very subtle stuff - http://littlesati.tumblr.com/post/102543501528/stormxpadme-just-something-i-noted-during .

    She made Other Boleyn Girl watchable, Portman's performance there is one of the worst things I've ever seen and only part of that can be attributed to ridiculous casting but Johansson was fantastic.

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    1. I hear you. Her range is incredible, and it saddens me that so many merely view her as a sexpot. She's SO MUCH MORE than that.

      LOL, I like Portman, but she doesn't have near the range as ScarJo, and it saddens me that Portman is the Oscar winner while Scarlett doesn't even have a nom!

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