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 have a feeling that both @ramblingfilm and @FlixChatter could have done their entire 'one look' posts on ScarJo performances.
— Andrew Ellington (@fististhoughts) November 1, 2014
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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
|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!