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Tilda Swinton Receives Oscar Boost From New Yorker Critic's Picks

The New Yorker's Anthony Lane may be the most droll film critic in America, but he lives in England, and even if he lived at Hollywood and Vine, he'd occupy a parallel universe, a skew plane that intersects at no point with ours -- where people care about Oscars and Golden Globes. So his Top 10 flicks list for 2010, the first major one I've seen, is perversely unuseful for us awards racetrack touts. He won't put them in numerical order. As befits a man whose #3 Rule for Film Critics is "Try to keep up with documentaries about Swabian transsexuals," he favors foreign films. If A Prophet was last year's Oscar news (a nom, not a winner), he leads with it anyhow:

1. A Prophet

2. The Father of My Children

3. Life During Wartime

4. Dogtooth

5. Toy Story 3

6. I Am Love

7. The Social Network

8. Mother

9. Winter's Bone

10. Sweetgrass

But Lane is respected, and The New Yorker is the best magazine in the world after The Hollywood Reporter, so he may exert a bit of awards influence. Toy Story 3 is too enormous and his praise of it too backhanded to affect anybody's opinion, and his reason for liking The Social Network is odd: it's "gripped by great animus and hostility but [not] resolved by violent means." He objects to what most people deem artistically appropriate "unabashed closeups of bloodletting" in Joon-Ho Bong's Mother, and though he likes Winter's Bone, he calls its violence "Gothic folly." Evidently Lane is haunted by the shade of late New Yorker editor William Shawn, who once killed a cartoon about fishing because his was "a vegetarian magazine."

There is one film Lane might help, awards-wise: Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love, which "showed with fine, Italianate panache how uncontrollable feelings can be held and sustained by an organizing eye." Somewhere in Scotland, I Am Love producer/star Tilda Swinton, whose 2007 Oscar in Michael Clayton got this movie made, must be smiling. Awards voters tend to be old enough to have New Yorkers stacked up in their bathrooms (instead of on iPads or Kindles where they belong). Now maybe they'll actually watch those I Am Love screeners stacked up on their DVD piles.