Oscar winning actress Tilda Swinton, honored for her role in Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton” from 2007, is a cinephile with a passion for international films.
One thing most cinephiles can agree on is that Tilda Swinton is a mystifying gift to the film industry. In addition to delivering consistently excellent performances in almost every movie and cast she joins, the Oscar-winning actress has long been a champion of the sort of unique films that without her involvement might otherwise never get made.
From her repeat collaborations with auteurs like Wes Anderson and Bong Joon-ho to her risky roles in experimental projects like “The Souvenir” series, Swinton is an extremely familiar face for fans of arthouse cinema. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton”: a crowd pleasing George Clooney legal thriller from 2007. And yes, she scared the hell out of millennials as the White Witch in Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Hell, she’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But it’s Swinton’s stranger performances for which she’s known best. The actress has appeared in both bizarre and grounded worlds; some oddly sad and delightful (see “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Okja”), others bone-chilling and terrifying (see Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” and Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”) It’s hardly surprising that Swinton appears to enjoy consuming movies as much as she likes making them, and even less shocking to find she’s drawn to works as influential as her own.
The “Snowpiercer” actress has always been a vocal advocate for the movies she loves, regularly singling out Old Hollywood classics and beloved foreign films from around the world as some of her favorites. She often uses Sight & Sound as platform to share her tastes, as she contributes to the once-a-decade Best Films of All Time polls and shares additional picks in other features for the magazine.
Her picks are often undisputed classics, so you could get a great foundational film education just by watching the movies she recommends. Keep reading for a list of Tilda Swinton’s favorite movies, according to the 2022 Sight & Sound poll. Her selections include the works of filmmakers such as Alfred Hithcock, Ernst Lubitsch, Nicolas Roeg, Roberto Rossellini, Chantal Akerman, and more.
“A Matter of Life and Death”
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s fantastical drama — which famously features a staircase ascending to Heaven — is just the kind of whimsical film that you’d imagine Tilda Swinton enjoying in her free time. And you’d be correct, as it was the first film listed on Swinton’s 2022 Sight & Sound ballot
“Vertigo” saw Alfred Hitchcock masterfully combining suspense and romance, and many people consider it to be the director’s finest work. It topped Sight & Sound’s Best Films of All Time list in 2012 before being dethroned in last year’s poll. Swinton is still a fan of the film, as she included it on her 2022 ballot (though she also voted for the film that dethroned it).
“Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot”
Jacques Tati’s “Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot” is one of the more unique comedies in film history. It’s not quite a silent film, as it features recorded sound, but there is virtually no dialogue. The story of a vacation gone awry is told exclusively through visual gags and background noise. Swinton clearly thinks that the comedy holds up, as she named it one of the best films of all time on her 2022 Sight & Sound ballot.
“To Be or Not to Be”
Long before “Hogan’s Heroes” and “JoJo Rabbit” portrayed Nazi troops as bumbling stooges, Ernst Lubitsch’s legendary rom-com “To Be or Not to Be” figured out how to get laughs at the Third Reich’s expense. The 1942 film followed a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who use their abilities to manipulate the soldiers. The film was groundbreaking at the time of its initial release, and it still has fans nearly a century later. Swinton listed it as one of her 10 favorite movies on her 2022 Sight & Sound ballot.
One of the wild cards on Swinton’s 2022 Sight & Sound ballot is “Walkabout,” Nicolas Roeg’s survival story about two young Australian children who are abandoned in the Australian Outback and befriend an Aboriginal boy. The film is considered by many to be one of the best films from the Australian New Wave.
“Journey to Italy”
Swinton has long been a vocal fan of Roberto Rossellini’s landmark Italian neorealist masterpiece “Journey to Italy.” In addition to including it on her 2022 Sight & Sound ballot, she discussed it in a 2010 interview with the magazine.
“One of the most elliptical and mesmerising films I know,” Swinton wrote. “George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman caught in a landscape of alienation — from each other, from southern Italy: a study in inarticulacy, loneliness and longing, built on a radiant belief in miracles.
One of the best examples of Robert Bresson’s trademark brand of slow cinema is “Pickpocket,” his meticulously crafted study of a petty criminal who thinks that the rules of morality don’t apply to him. The film was clearly an influence on Swinton, as she included it on her 2022 Sight & Sound ballot.
“Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”
One of the best things about the Sight & Sound list is watching how the general consensus about film history evolves over the course of each decade. The 2022 poll saw Chantal Akerman’s landmark experimental film “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” ascend to the top slot on the list after years of dominance from “Citizen Kane” and “Vertigo.” Swinton was one of the many voters who helped its cause, as she included it on her 2022 ballot.
“La Dolce Vita”
Swinton’s Sight & Sound ballot showed her deep appreciation for Italian cinema, so it’s hardly surprising that she found room for a Federico Fellini movie. She picked “La Dolce Vita,” Fellini’s legendary Palme d’Or winning film about a philandering gossip columnist in Rome. Arriving just three years before his career-defining “8 1/2,” “La Dolce Vita” is Fellini at the height of his stylistic powers.
“My Neighbor Totoro”
Swinton’s Sight & Sound ballot focused heavily on live action films, but she still dedicated a slot to one of the greatest animated filmmakers of all time. By selecting Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro,” she found a way to honor animation as an art form as well as the rich history of Japanese cinema.
Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.
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