How Scarlett Johansson Took Over Hollywood in 2019 – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

How Scarlett Johansson Took Over Hollywood in 2019

In 2019, Scarlett Johansson dominated the media with her critical and commercial successes in the film industry. Even prior to that year, she was a well-known figure in Hollywood, with her breakout role in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) alongside Bill Murray earning her widespread acclaim and a Best Actress nomination at the Golden Globes.

Johansson had also lent her voice to several respected films, including Her (2013) and The Jungle Book (2016). However, her most popular character by far was Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which she had appeared six times.

But in 2019, Johansson set herself apart with her appearances in three well-known films: Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit, and Avengers: Endgame. While Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit may not have achieved the same commercial success as Endgame, they both resonated with critics, earning Johansson two Oscar nominations in the same year.

Endgame, on the other hand, shattered expectations with its astounding $2.8 billion worldwide box office gross, making it the second-highest grossing movie of all time. While Johansson’s performance was just one of many factors contributing to its success, her name value undoubtedly played a part.

Despite the mixed commercial success of her 2019 films, Johansson’s critical achievements cannot be ignored. She became just the twelfth performer in history to receive two Oscar nominations in the same year, and all three of her films boasted an impressive average review score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Overall, Johansson’s success in 2019 can be attributed to her past appearances in the MCU, her voice roles, and her notable efforts in critically acclaimed films. With a total box office gross of $2.9 billion off a combined budget of roughly $450 million, she solidified her status as both an Academy Award nominee and the highest-grossing box office star of all time.

Thanks to a series of critical and commercial successes, film fans across the globe saw headlines about Scarlett Johansson around every corner of media in 2019. But even before the year at hand, most viewers knew of her in some capacity, be it just by name or perhaps by face.

At that point, she had been on the Hollywood map for a decade and a half thanks to her role in Lost in Translation (2003) by Sofia Coppola. The actress of the hour showed up alongside Bill Murray, and both performers received widespread acclaim from critics. While Murray boasts more accolades for his role, Johansson did garner a Best Actress nomination at the Golden Globes for her work, while outright winning at the BAFTAs in that same category.


Related: Best Scarlett Johansson Movies, Ranked

Johansson acted in several other critical darlings before 2019, too: take her voice role in Her (2013), for example. Directed by Spike Jonze with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, that’s among the most respected films she’s ever taken part in. But it’s far from the only voice role under her belt. She also played Kaa in The Jungle Book (2016), Ash in Sing (2016), and Nutmeg in Isle of Dogs (2018). Then, there’s Marvel.

She had portrayed Natasha Romanoff (also known as Black Widow) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe six official times up to this point. That’s without a doubt the most popular character among her stable, with other roles in blockbuster projects including Lucy (2013) and Ghost in the Shell (2017). All three characters helped establish Johansson as a Hollywood mainstay throughout the 2010s. But at the turn of the decade, she set herself apart from her contemporaries by appearing in three, well-known films: Marriage Story (2019), Jojo Rabbit (2019), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Excelling at the Box Office

Scarlett Johansson in Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures

Off the bat, it’s worth noting that Johansson made a cameo during the mid-credits scene of Captain Marvel (2019). That’s within the MCU, so it of course raked in impressive numbers in ticket sales. But the appearance from the actress of the hour is ultimately uncredited, and thus won’t be factored in when analyzing her commercial success throughout 2019.

However, she did provide a prominent supporting part in Avengers: Endgame. After accruing an astounding $2.8 billion at the worldwide box office, it essentially shattered every expectation its superhero counterparts set in the years leading up. Endgame currently sits behind Avatar (2009) by James Cameron as the second-highest grossing movie ever made, and the fifth-highest grossing when adjusting for inflation. Stats don’t get much more impressive.

Of course, that popularity can by no means be attributed to the efforts of one particular performer — not Robert Downey Jr., not Samuel L. Jackson, not a single member of its ensemble cast. Not even Scarlett Johansson. Nonetheless, her acting prowess and overall name value played a part in rendering Endgame such a hit with audiences, with the same being true for her other two releases from this year.

Thanks to theatergoersJojo Rabbit turned a $14 million budget into a $90 million income. Pretty decent showing. Meanwhile, Marriage Story came up short with only $2.3 million made off an $18 million budget. However, two elements were at play with the latter: its distribution by Netflix, and its showing amid COVID-19. Since audiences could expect Marriage Story to be available on a streaming service soon after its release in theaters, they had less incentive than usual to attend their local venues.

And even if they did decide to go out on the town to see the newest entry in writer-director Noah Baumbach’s oeuvre, seating in theaters was sparse by virtue of the pandemic. Not that it mattered, though. Avengers: Endgame made enough money to last any film and crew a lifetime, let alone someone with as many MCU entries under their belt as Johansson. Plus, while Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story may have paled in commercial comparison, Endgame doesn’t quite stack up to the quality of her other two films.

Resonating With Critics

Scarlett Johansson in Netflix's Marriage Story

Perhaps the most prominent marks of critical success with regard to Johansson in 2019 would be her achievements at the Academy Awards. She famously garnered two Oscar nominations in the same year — by dint of her role in Jojo Rabbitthe first was for Best Supporting Actress. An impressive feature overall, it follows a ten-year-old Hitler youth who becomes enraged upon discovering his mother (played by Johansson) is harboring a Jewish girl in their home.

Then, there’s Marriage Story. While the particulars of its plot points and character arcs will remain in the dark under this specific lens, what’s undoubtedly worth noting would be Johansson’s famous rapport with co-star Adam Driver. Their emotional efforts as Nicole and Charlie Barber resonated with fans and critics alike, with Driver receiving a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. The aforementioned Best Actress honor was given to Renée Zellweger for her titular role in Judy (2019).

Related: These Are the Best Noah Baumbach Films, Ranked

Nonetheless, Johannson was nominated — not just at the Oscars, but at the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, too. And while her role as Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame was by no means worthy of a golden statuette, the movie as a whole resonated fondly with critics. All three projects did, in fact, with an average review score of 89.7 on Rotten Tomatoes.

Those are pretty impressive numbers given the volume of verified critics on the aforementioned critical consensus website. But without a doubt, the most prominent achievement of Johansson’s from 2019 was her showing at the Oscars. Only eleven other performers in the association’s history had been nominated twice in the same year, landing here in fairly rarified air. She had seen critical acclaim in her career before 2019, but nowhere near to this extent.

In fact, those two nominations mark the only instances of which Johansson’s name had been attached to the famous award ceremony. But with $2.9 billion made in total off a combined budget off roughly $450 million, it goes without saying that Johansson ran the gamut of success in 2019. She boasted appreciable name value going into it all thanks to her past appearances in the MCU, several voice roles throughout the years, and a few more notable efforts. But now, Johansson is both an Academy Award nominee and the highest-grossing box office star of all time. 2019 is a year she’ll never forget.

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