best film: This is not an easy one. It is sort of fun to just go down the list to survey Tilda Swinton’s full filmography. It does look like The Grand Budapest Hotel is the single best film. There are many other prime candidates. Near the top of the list is Moonrise Kingdom. Tilda has just a few minutes on screen in her collaborations with (to date) Wes Anderson but she is certainly making herself part of the greater good in Wes’ ever-expanding ensemble universe. Though they may be a half-step below The Grand Budapest Hotel, both Orlando and We Need to Talk About Kevin are worthy of debate in this category. Swinton’s contribution is much more essential to these two films.
best performance: It is either Orlando or We Need to Talk About Kevin- both would be acceptable answers. Next on the list would be Michael Clayton and it is sort of jarring to see how straight and narrow Michael Clayton seems in comparison (she is still magnificent here) with the vast majority of her films. Orlando feels like the role only Tilda would have played. Director Sally Potter has a penchant for close-ups in Orlando, and who could blame her with a performer as captivating as Swinton. Swinton is not only one of her generation’s most talented actors- but she is also perfectly cast in Potter’s film as the “androgynous” (in the text)- David Bowie-like (she would lean into that comparison again in A Bigger Splash as well) Orlando— “ambiguous sexuality”.
stylistic innovations/traits: Tilda Swinton seems to only work with auteurs on artistically ambitious projects. She is an indie/arthouse goddess at this point- that is her brand. Her brand stands for creativity and risk-taking in her roles (and who she chooses to collaborate with). She has an abundance of range and certainly a distinct—non-traditional Hollywood/glamour look. She is a breath of fresh air and a singular talent. Orlando is a major feather in her cap- but even before that in 1992 Swinton was a big part of the avant-garde British film scene working with artist Derek Jarman. To date Swinton has been in twenty-four (24) archiveable films and she feels destined to hit thirty (30) and go beyond (she slows no sign of slowing down in her sixties here). She really has not done much in terms of traditional (that word is just not her) romantic or heroic leads—but if there is a trend in her body of work- it does seem like she has a gift for comedy. She has had several collaborations with the Coen Brothers, her cartoon-like performances in the films of Bong Joon-ho along with collaborations with Jim Jarmusch and Wes Anderson (three apiece) as the sort of arthouse deadpan kings. If you add those up- that is ten (10) films where she plays comedic characters- but to showcase her range- there is not a stich of humor in her best three performances.
directors worked with: Few actors can outmatch Tilda Swinton here. Luca Guadagnino (3), Jim Jarmusch (3), Wes Anderson (3) The Coen Brothers (2), Joanna Hogg (2), Bong Joon-ho (2), Charlie Kaufman, Bela Tarr, David Fincher, Lynne Ramsay, Terry Gilliam. It is very telling that she has gone out of her way to work on artistic projects (a collaboration with Bela Tarr?-wow).
top five performances:
- We Need to Talk About Kevin
- Michael Clayton
- I Am Love
- A Bigger Splash
|1999- The War Zone|
|2001- Vanilla Sky|
|2005- Broken Flowers|
|2007- Michael Clayton|
|2007- The Man from London|
|2008- Burn After Reading|
|2008-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button|
|2009- I Am Love|
|2009- The Limits of Control|
|2011- We Need to Talk About Kevin|
|2012- Moonrise Kingdom|
|2013- Only Lovers Left Alive|
|2013- The Zero Theorem|
|2014- The Grand Budapest Hotel|
|2015- A Bigger Splash|
|2016- Hail, Caesar!|
|2019- The Souvenir|
|2021- The French Dispatch|
|2021- The Souvenir: Part II|
What an interesting career. One forgets that shes also in the MCU and shes really good in it thoigh the films arent special. That list of directors doesn’t include Weerasethakul and George Miller. Haven’t seen the latter’s new movie but Memoria is HR/MS Territory.
@Drake-Did you see George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing(2022)? I thought it was brilliant. But probably wanted a bit more at the end and probably more present day interactions.
@Malith- Have not had a chance to catch Three Thousand Years of Longing yet unfortunately
Isn’t Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (how many actors can say that they’ve worked with him) in the archives. I think not only the movie is excellent but Swinton is pretty damn good.
@MASH- Have not had a chance to catch Memoria yet unfortunately
Assuming all else being equal does an actor/actress working with many different auteurs carrying more “weight” in terms of your rankings than an actor/actress whose best work came primarily from collaborations with one or two auteurs?
@James Trapp- more weight
“directors worked with: No actor can match Tilda Swinton here”
Willem Dafoe wants to have a word
@Harry haha noted and totally fair- I made an amendment to the that line. Thank you for keeping me honest.