The Grand Budapest Hotel. Only Lovers Left Alive. And now, Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-ho’s dystopia-on-a-train film that tore up the box office — and wowed critics — in limited release, before going national this past weekend. What these three movies have in common is Tilda Swinton, making her somewhat ubiquitous on the big screen in 2014. For years, she’s been one of cinema’s most fascinating figures, and her more mainstream efforts, from the Chronicles of Narnia series to her work with Wes Anderson, have made her a household name. But most of Swinton’s best performances never screened at the multiplex. If you’re looking to dig deeper into her filmography — and you really should be — here are ten great places to start.
Although she’s had longstanding collaborative relationships with some of cinema’s greatest minds, from Jim Jarmusch to Wes Anderson, Swinton’s most crucial partnership was also her first, with the radical queer filmmaker Derek Jarman (who died in 1994). She made her big-screen debut in his Caravaggio, playing Lena, one-third of a sordid and tragic love triangle involving the Baroque painter. It’s a relatively small role, but a striking one, setting the tone for a career defined by otherworldly beauty, magnetic strangeness, and outré sexuality.