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Top 10 Tilda Swinton Performances

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: JJ Heaton
She is Britain’s own androgynous muse, capable of playing practically any role. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Tilda Swinton Performances. For this list, we’ll be considering all of Swinton’s roles, from film to TV, and the bizarre to the wonderful. Special thanks to our users jkellis, Matthew Cowley Pearson, Stephen-616, Jacob Waltuck, Sanderson Sister, - Aspie Kid - and Felix Wood for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Tilda Swinton Performances

She is Britain’s own androgynous muse, capable of playing practically any role. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Tilda Swinton Performances.

For this list, we’ll be considering all of Swinton’s roles, from film to TV, and the bizarre to the wonderful.

#10: Lucy and Nancy Mirando
“Okja” (2017)

Tilda Swinton is a versatile actress, so playing a dual role is no problem for her. In this odd sci-fi adventure film, Swinton plays eccentric CEO Lucy Mirando with bounds of forced whimsy and childlike anger, giving a performance that could be best described as ‘Ivanka Trump as directed by Tim Burton’. For Lucy’s twin sister Nancy, Swinton transforms on screen into a much less insane character, but one who is just as despicable. Only an actress of her calibre could find two different ways of being this skin-crawling in one film.

#9: Katie Cox
“Burn After Reading” (2008)

Pairing Swinton with filmmakers like The Coen Brothers seems like an ideal match, and their idiosyncrasies line up perfectly in this dark comedy. Playing the wife of a retiring CIA analyst in an affair with a US Marshal, Swinton’s Katie Cox makes for a perfect straight foil in the midst of a cavalcade of insane characters. She brings some degree of sanity to the Coens’ usual off-kilter sense of reality and stands tall against the likes of George Clooney and John Malkovich.

#8: Gabriel
“Constantine” (2005)

In one of many roles in her career where she plays a gender non-conforming character, Swinton brings a fresh approach in her interpretation of the angel Gabriel. In this Keanu Reeves-starring adaptation of the comic book “Hellblazer”, this depiction of God’s messenger is portrayed in a far darker light, showing a disdain for humanity and John Constantine specifically. Though not the favoured adaptation of the demon-slaying antihero by fans, Swinton’s performance alone makes the film worth a look.

#7: The Ancient One
“Doctor Strange” (2016)

There was much controversy surrounding the casting of Tilda Swinton, a white woman, in the role of The Ancient One in Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange”. Then again, considering the original comic book version could be perceived as an Asian stereotype, there was no easy way to win. Fortunately, Swinton’s performance as the mentor to Dr. Stephen Strange transcends those difficult issues and gives another uniquely Swinton-esque performance. Hey, who doesn’t want to see her fighting with magic on the side of a building?

#6: The White Witch
“The Chronicles of Narnia” franchise (2005-2010)

Though she can play sensitive when she wants to, Swinton is often at her best when she’s playing a cold-hearted bitch, and this character is one of the coldest. Taking on the iconic villain from C.S. Lewis’ fantasy series, Swinton easily slips into the icy role of the White Witch of Narnia, making for a perfect adversary to the curious children. Though defeated in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, Swinton returned for minor appearances in both “Prince Caspian” and “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, proving you can’t keep a good villain down.

#5: Eve
“Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013)

Tilda Swinton already has an ethereal quality to her beyond us mortals, so having her play an immortal woman makes perfect sense. In this 2013 film from acclaimed indie director Jim Jarmusch, Swinton plays one half of a vampire couple with Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston, as her lover. It’s as offbeat and fascinating experience as you would expect from the director of “Ghost Dog” and “Coffee and Cigarettes”, and Swinton’s performance is a key part of that, earning her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her efforts.

#4: Karen Crowder
“Michael Clayton” (2007)

For the role that won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Swinton played a far more grounded character than her usual exploits. In the George Clooney-starring legal thriller, Swinton’s Karen Crowder is on the edge of a mental breakdown and taking drastic measures to protect her company, which only puts her in the crosshairs of Clooney’s titular ‘fixer’. As usual, Swinton delivers a powerful antagonistic performance, but one where she is as pathetic as she is ruthless, which is proven in her final confrontation with eponymous character.

#3: Minister Mason
“Snowpiercer” (2013)

Prior to her collaboration with Bong Joon-ho on “Okja”, Swinton appeared in the Korean director’s English language debut. Like her later performance, Swinton’s villainous Mason isn’t exactly a sane individual, but it’s hard to be normal when you’ve spent most of your life on a train that never stops. Her powerful sense of superiority makes her an easy figure to hate, and the perfect foil for Chris Evans and his fellow bottom-dwellers to rise up against.

#2: Orlando
“Orlando” (1992)

Based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, “Orlando” is possibly Swinton’s strangest role but also one that perfectly sums up everything about her as an actress. Tasked with playing the titular English nobleman who miraculously changes gender and becomes immortal, the role seems tailormade to Swinton’s abilities and she of course excels in every facet. Like its source material, “Orlando” uses its unique premise to discuss gender roles through history, and who better to embody that than an actress who has embodied both throughout her career?

Before we reach our number one pick, here are a few honourable mentions:

Social Services
“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)

“The Beach” (2000)

“Julia” (2009)

#1: Eva Khatchadourian
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” (2011)

As much as we love Tilda Swinton when she’s playing strange, larger than life characters, it’s in her more human roles where she really gets to show off the subtleties of her acting. Swinton’s role as the mother of an extremely disturbed child is one the most heartbreaking performances of her career. Her relationship with son Kevin, played by Ezra Miller, is truly haunting and Swinton sells us on the horror of a mother scared by her own child. It’s a performance more than deserving of her Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

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