Tilda Swinton didn't compile a list of her favorite films specifically for your coronavirus-induced social isolation needs. She put it together as part of her new fellowship with the British Film Institute. However, if there was ever a time to hole up in your bedroom and immerse yourself in the high tastes of a divine, celestial witch, this is it.
Swinton's list is, naturally, full of art-house and foreign classics, many in black and white. Though, they're not all exercises in experimental obscurity or surrealism (there's only one Pier Paolo Pasolini film on here, after all). You'll find comedies, films about childhood, and even one version of a beloved fairy tail that would go on to directly inspire Disney's version decades later. It's as good as any well-rounded Film History 201 syllabus you're likely to find.
Though, not a single one of these films is available on Netflix and only one is on Amazon. So how do you stream them? Well, they're all available on the BFI Player (which may have directed her choices in some respect). Its available as a Roku channel in the United States (there's a 7-day free trial as well). Many can be found on Criterion Channel (which we've already suggested as a wise investment right now), and quite a few are on Kanopy, which may be available for free with your local or university library card (though, not for New Yorkers, sorry). A couple of them also live on other various niche streaming sites, and a few can even be watched for free.
I Was Born, But… (Yasujirō Ozu, 1932)
A silent comedy about the realities of class told through the eyes of two young brothers. Swinton calls it a "beautiful wee silent masterpiece about childhood."
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
The second Ozu film on Swinton's list, but this film has sound. It's also widely considering the Japanese director's masterpiece and a mainstay of various greatest films of all time lists. It tells the story of an elderly couple from a small town who travel to Tokyo to visits their grown children, who often are too busy for them. "Magisterial," is how Swinton described it.
Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
Starring Ingrid Bergman, Rossellini's film tells the story of an English couple whose marriage starts to show strain during a trip to Italy.
La Belle et la Bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946)
Yes, this is the original film version of Beauty and the Beast. While it's based on the classic French fairy tail, Cocteau added ideas that Disney would repurpose for their own version, including enchanted household objects and the design of the beast. Though in this version there is no loopy talking candlestick.
M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
A masterpiece of German Expresionism, this film also had a huge impact on the American film noir genre of later decades. Swinton says it's, "maybe the original psychological thriller."
Medea (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)
My Childhood / My Ain Folk / My Way Home (Bill Douglas, 1973, '74 and '79)
A trilogy of shorter films inspired by the director's own childhood, Swinton calls it "a proper Scottish cultural treasure."
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, 2013)
Streaming: BFI and Shudder
A lustful thriller set at a gay nude beach, the film wowed critics when it premiered at Cannes.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
Another recent Cannes hit, this Thai film is a sparse ghost story which punctuates its slowly unraveling plot with moments of levity.