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Tilda Swinton Oscar and Movies: Subversive & Commercial Mix in Unusual Career

Tilda Swinton OscarTilda Swinton: Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for 'Michael Clayton.'

Tilda Swinton Oscar winner

Tilda Swinton, whose unusual film career dates back to the mid-1980s, was the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner at the 2008 Oscar ceremony held on Feb. 24 at the Kodak Theatre in the Los Angeles district of Hollywood.

Swinton won for her performance in Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton, a socially conscious drama co-starring George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson. That was Swinton's first Oscar nomination.

Tilda Swinton movies

Tilda Swinton film credits range from the subversive to the mundane, from the outlandishly independent to the mind-numbingly commercial. But in all fairness, Swinton's movie career has been (much) more daring than most. Below are a few samples.

  • Derek Jarman's Caravaggio (1986), with Nigel Terry in the title role and Sean Bean as Ranuccio.
  • Jarman's experimental The Last of England (1987), narrated by Nigel Terry.
  • Jarman's dialogue-less War Requiem (1989), with Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Nathaniel Parker, and Laurence Olivier in his last film role.
  • Jarman's audience-unfriendly Edward II (1991), with Steven Waddington in the title role.
  • Sally Potter's gender-bending Orlando (1992), with Swinton in the title role and Quentin Crisp as Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), with Karl Johnson as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michael Gough as Bertrand Russell, and Tilda Swinton as Lady Ottoline Morrell.
  • Jarman's final film before succumbing to AIDS complications, Blue (1993), featuring a blue screen and narration by Jarman himself, Swinton, Nigel Terry, and John Quentin.
  • The Deep End (2001).
    A crime drama in which she becomes involved with gay blackmailer Goran Visnjic.
    Dir.: Scott McGehee. David Siegel.
    Cast: Tilda Swinton. Goran Visnjic. Jonathan Tucker. Peter Donat. Josh Lucas.
  • Vanilla Sky (2001).
    An audience-friendly remake of Alejandro Amenábar's Open Your Eyes.
    Dir.: Cameron Crowe.
    Cast: Tom Cruise. Cameron Diaz. Penélope Cruz. Tilda Swinton.
  • Adaptation (2002).
    A highly unusual – and ultimately frustrating – big-studio release (Columbia Pictures).
    Dir.: Spike Jonze.
    Cast: Nicolas Cage. Meryl Streep. Chris Cooper. Tilda Swinton.
  • Broken Flowers (2005).
    A sort of male version of Julien Duvivier's Un carnet de bal, toplining Bill Murray and the women in his past.
    Dir.: Jim Jarmusch.
    Cast: Bill Murray. Jessica Lange. Chloë Sevigny. Julie Delpy. Tilda Swinton. Sharon Stone.
  • The big-budget fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).
    Dir.: Andrew Adamson.
    Cast: William Moseley. Georgie Henley. James McAvoy. Skandar Keynes. Jim Broadbent. Tilda Swinton as the White Witch.
  • The low-budget psychological/crime drama Stephanie Daley (2006).
    Dir.: Hilary Brougher.
    Cast: Amber Tamblyn. Melissa Leo. Tilda Swinton. Vincent Piazza. Timothy Hutton. Constance Wu.

Upcoming titles

Upcoming Tilda Swinton movies include:

Tilda Swinton photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.

More Oscar 2008 photos

Below are a few more Oscar 2008 images featuring the likes of Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis, Brad Bird, and presenters Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, and Owen Wilson.

Daniel Day-Lewis OscarDaniel Day-Lewis: Best Actor Academy Award winner for Paul Thomas Anderson's 'There Will Be Blood.'
Steve Carell Brad Bird Anne HathawayBrad Bird: Oscar winner in the Best Animated Feature Film category for 'Ratatouille,' with presenters Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway.
Owen WilsonOwen Wilson: Presenter at the 2008 Academy Awards.


Steve Carell, Brad Bird, and Anne Hathaway photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.

Owen Wilson photo: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.

Daniel Day-Lewis image: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.

Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway
According to Oscar savants, experts, and know-it-alls everywhere, one TV-ratings point was lost per unfunny repartee at the 2008 Oscarcast. If so, the one between Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway was both long and unfunny enough to lose the show about 2 million viewers.

Jennifer Garner - Oscar 2008Blame it on the dark-themed films, the (relatively speaking) little-known nominees (in the US), the – until just a week ago – threat that the show wouldn't go on because of the Writers Guild strike, network TV's recent strike-related viewership slump, the proliferation of film-award TV shows, the bad weather in Los Angeles, the Danish Film Critics' Bodil Awards held on the same day, the evening's fashion (Jennifer Garner, right), the iPhone, or the Oscarcast's reputation for being both long and ennui-inducing.

Or blame it on the ignorant masses whose idea of quality filmmaking is Meet the Spartans.

As per Nielsen Media Research, the 2008 Oscarcast hosted by Jon Stewart earned the lowest national household ratings ever (since 1953, when the show was first televised): 18.7.

With 32 million viewers in the US, it was also the least watched show since this sort of tallying began in 1974. The previous Oscar viewership nadir, the 2003 ceremony (which began right after the US-led invasion of Iraq), had 33 million viewers.

Now, considering that so many non-US personalities were nominated this year – all four acting winners were European – here's wondering if the Oscars, much like a number of Hollywood movies of late, fared better with TV audiences elsewhere.

The most watched Oscar broadcast was in 1998, when the blockbuster Titanic won a record-tying 11 awards, including the best picture statuette. Approximately 55 million US viewers tuned in that year.

This year, only one movie among the five best picture nominees, Jason Reitman's Juno, starring Ellen Page as a pregnant 15-year-old, has thus far crossed the US$100 million box office mark in the U.S. and Canada market.

Still, those 32 million viewers are nothing to be sniffed at. As per a Reuters report, “the Academy Awards show ranks as the year's highest-rated entertainment special and a cash cow for Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, which raked in an average of $1.8 million for each 30-second spot, up 7 percent from a year ago.”

(As per ABC, the show had “a cumulative 'reach' of 64.1 million viewers, referring to the aggregate number of viewers who tuned in for at least six minutes.” Source: The New York Times.)

Martin Scorsese presented the Best Director Oscar to Joel and Ethan Coen. Other winners this year include Best Actress Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose and Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood.

Photos: Darren Decker (Garner), Michael Yada (Carell). All photos: © A.M.P.A.S.

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1 Comment to Tilda Swinton Oscar and Movies: Subversive & Commercial Mix in Unusual Career

  1. Marcus Tucker

    People aren't really interested in awards and awards shows in general these days. All of the films in the major categories could have been financially successful had the studios that released and or bought them felt the need to promote the films. The strike didn't really factor in as much as the industry is pretending like it did, people just don't really care all that much anymore.

    It has gotten to the point that I find films because of IMDB and Amazon rather than actually seeing the trailers for films. And no one is really going to the movies anymore so why would anyone really want to watch a show about a bunch of films virtually no one outside of the entertainment community and the festival circuit saw.

    It's often said that studios pander to the masses but they can't be doing that good a job as people are just plain not interested in what Hollywood has to offer. But that's happening all over the entertainment industry.

    The Motion Picture Academy is also to blame for the lack of variety in nominees. Even with categories like costume design, it was so predictable and boring that the big period piece won. Nothing fun like Fantastic Four or Enchanted. Always the period piece. The same goes for most of the other categories.

    But primarily, I think the age of the 24 hour celebrity is turning people off of the entertainment industry in general. Nothing interesting about seeing movie stars or just plain old actors getting awards, we see them all the time: It's boring, and the more people realize actors are real people the more boring the are. Even Pola Negri couldn't manage to seem interesting to the public today, they're just plain jaded.