Scarlett Johansson is no ordinary movie star. Radiant, uncompromising and versatile, she's also 2016's highest-grossing actress, as reported in Forbes. This March, she's poised to kick ass in futuristic manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell, so to get you ready and to celebrate all things Scarlett, we've selected her nine greatest performances.
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
One of Scarlett's earliest roles sees her demonstrating an emotional maturity beyond her years, a harbinger of the remarkable performances to come. At the age of 14, she stuns in Robert Redford's moving drama, playing a young girl traumatised in a riding accident who must travel with her mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) to seek help from the whisperer of the title (played by Redford). Never striking a false note, Scarlett is utterly convincing as a teenager on course for redemption.
Ghost World (2001)
Scarlett's transition to complex, teenage roles came with this achingly cool graphic novel adaptation, held up as one of the greatest ever. She plays Rebecca, who along with her friend Enid (Thora Birch) finds her life unravelling when she meets loner Seymour (Steve Buscemi). The star's familiar husky voice and air of charismatic detachment is well-suited for a movie that glides along to a hipster soundtrack before uncovering darker truths.
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
A great actor will always be able to adapt to different genres and time periods. In this ravishingly designed historical drama set in 17th century Holland, Scarlett plays Griet, the real-life muse of famed painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth) who provides inspiration for the celebrated painting of the title. The actress's beauty is put to thoughtful and captivating use yet beneath the surface she also convinces on a dramatic level.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Scarlett's signature role? It's got to be this. If not quite her best performance it's almost certainly the one that solidified her as one of the coolest and most charismatic A-listers of the modern age, drawing on her penchant for compelling understatement in its tale of Tokyo loneliness and melancholy. Sofia Coppola's acclaimed indie draws more attention for bringing Bill Murray back into the limelight but Scarlett's valuable contribution shouldn't be forgotten.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
For a short time in the mid-to-late 2000's, Scarlett appeared to become the legendary Woody Allen's latest muse, further cementing her reputation as one of the brightest and most eye-catching stars around. There's no denying she rolls off his famously acerbic dialogue like a pro, as seen in this excellent late-period charmer about two women seduced by a charismatic Spanish painter. Her character (the Cristina of the title) isn't always sympathetic, but that only makes the character more enjoyable to watch.
The Avengers (2012)
It takes a special kind of actor who can flip-flop between stylish indie drama and rollicking popcorn thrills. But Scarlett is that person. She first appeared as badass Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in 2010's Iron Man 2 but it wasn't until Joss Whedon's triumphant Marvel ensemble adventure that she really began to stand out, mixing action chops with sincere humanity in a manner that rivalled and often excelled her beefier co-stars like Chris Hemsworth. Seriously, where is our Black Widow movie?
Under the Skin (2014)
If we're thinking of Scarlett's best acting performance, it has to be this: the hypnotic, disturbing and eerily detached centrepiece of Jonathan Glazer's confounding sci-fi mood poem. Mixing candid camera footage with breathtakingly surreal vistas, this captivating and enigmatic critical favourite is brilliantly held together by Scarlett's performance as an unnamed alien in human form, one going clandestine on the streets of Glasgow. Conveying the essence of an otherworldly being slowly awakening to a sense of humanity, she is superb.
Who says Scarlett needs to appear on screen in order to impress us? Spike Jonze's dreamy and moving romantic drama centres on a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his alluringly voiced operating system (Johansson). Given she has one of the most distinctive vocal ranges in the business Scarlett's casting is nothing short of a masterstroke, conveying all manner of emotion – love, pain, betrayal and all – without ever showing her face.
She hasn't just blown away the bad guys in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scarlett also made another bid for iconic action movie status in this nutso revenge thriller from The Fifth Element Luc Besson, playing a woman used as a drug mule who essentially turns into a superhero when the drugs she's carrying leak into her bloodstream. If you ever wanted to see the brilliant Scarlett essentially move onto a higher plane of existence and transform into God (after loads of physics-defying special effects action), you've got it here.
Where do you think Ghost in the Shell will rank among Scarlett Johansson's best roles? Tweet us @Cineworld with your thoughts. The movie is released on 31st March 2017.