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Scarlett Johansson: A New Career Watermark

November 6th marked the limited theatrical release of Marriage Story, the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Frances Ha, While We’re Young). The film chronicles the messy divorce between an LA actress and a New York theater director. Baumbach has described the film as “a love story about divorce.” Since its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival back in August, Marriage Story has been met with critical acclaim.

“It’s a life-affirming, profoundly affecting classic.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

The Netflix release is expected to be a strong Oscar player this awards season for Baumbach’s screenplay and direction as well as the performances by its stars: Adam Driver and Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute alumni Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern.

Scarlett Johansson began taking acting classes at LSTFI where she took classes on Lee Strasberg’s Method™ through the Young Actors at Strasberg program. She broke into the Hollywood scene in 2003 when her roles in Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Necklace earned her two Golden Globe nominations and a BAFTA. Since then, Johansson has become one of the biggest names in the world, balancing acclaimed indie titles like Her and Under the Skin with box office hits like Lucy and her role as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For her performance in Marriage Story as Nicole Barber, an actress fighting for custody of her son amid a messy divorce, Johansson has received some of the best reviews of her career:  A. O. Scott of The New York Times calls her “simply extraordinary…” while Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com hails her performance as “a new career watermark…” 

“Johansson has simply never been better, giving a knockout performance as a woman equally intent on moving on, with her own life goals in mind.”

Brian Truitt, USA Today

Johansson isn’t the only LSTFI alumna featured in Baumbach’s Best Picture hopeful. A fellow student of Lee Strasberg’s Method, two-time Academy Award nominee Laura Dern’s performance in Marriage Story is the latest addition to her recent streak of incredible performances. Just in the last five years, Hollywood has been treated to a Dern-issance with her scene stealing performances in The Fault in Our Stars, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Tale, Wild, Twin Peaks: The Return as well as her Emmy award-winning portrayal of Renata Klein in Big Little Lies.  As Johansson’s divorce lawyer in Marriage Story, Dern’s performance has been crowned the frontrunner for Oscar gold: Jon Frosch of The Hollywood Reporter  calls it “savage perfection” while Owen Gleiberman at Variety declares her performance to be a “ripsnorting classic…”

“Nora Fanshaw, played by the sensational Laura Dern with a delicious blend of mirth and malice that should make her a leading contender for Best Supporting Actress.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Baumbach’s Marriage Story is now in limited release in LA and NY. Click here to find a showing near you. It will be available for streaming on Netflix starting December 6th.

Alumni News is written by NYU Tisch at Strasberg alumnus Christian Masinsin. If you are an alum and have a story you think should be featured, please email [email protected] 

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