Most Oscar nominated film with 13 nominations. Bafta's front-runner with 12 nominations. Golden Globe winner for Best Director, winner of The Critics' Choice Award for Best Film and winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. 'The Shape of Water' is simply not to be missed and here are five reasons why the film will have you completely submerged...
1. Del Toro is BACK
If you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth, chances are you still have flashes of that iconic image of the Pale Man, hands to his head, palms outstretched, staring from his eyeballs within. It ruined both peekaboo and jazz hands for some time, but such is the viscerally expressive power of director Guillermo del Toro.
Winner of the Golden Globe as Best Director, Guillermo Del Toro has a very original style. He’s as much world-builder as director, and, influenced by The Creature From The Black Lagoon, he has created a universe that we recognise, yet is filled with monstrous beauty and dreamy interludes to compete with any classic love film.
2. It spans lots of genres
It’s a Cold War thriller. It’s a monster movie. It’s a sci-fi. It’s a fairy tale. It’s, at times, a comedy. And, most importantly, it’s a love story.
It's 1962 America and, in a top-secret lab, the US military are keeping secrets. No surprise there. They’ve captured a creature from the Amazon that was worshipped by locals as a god, and guess who wants to get their mitts on it? That’s right, those pesky Russians. But mute, late-night cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) sees its humanity and strikes up a relationship with “The Asset”...
3. It's cinematic magic
You don't get 13 Oscars nominations for free...The work behind the film is simply great and what makes the story even more engaging is the magic of seeing it on big screen.
The sumptuous cinematography by Dan Laustsen makes perfect use of the film’s Cold War–era setting, and Alexandre Desplat’s score (who previously won an Oscar for The Grand Budapest Hotel) is wistfully nostalgic.
Working from original designs by lead creature designer and sculptor Mike Hill, the monster's suit is a mix of make-up art and special effects. It's some sort of ‘digital make-up’ approach: pushing and pulling some of the prosthetics or replacing parts of the suit and face with digital effects to score extra emotion and expressiveness.
4. Sally Hawkins is amazing
Yes, Sally Hawkins is always amazing. But this time she’s REALLY amazing and her Oscar nomination is more than worthy. One of the most subtle and expressive actors of her generation, Hawkins can say more with her eyes than many manage with their entire bodies. And, in this case, it’s just as well.
Her character Elisa doesn’t speak using words for the entire film. She’s essentially a silent movie star in a sound film. “It’s about unadulterated expression and words are not needed,” said Hawkins. “You have the freedom to express so much through your eyes, breath and body.” She also studied ASL sign language and took dance lessons to give her character what she describes as the “otherworldly feeling in her physical being”.
5. Critically acclaimed
A message of tolerance, conquering prejudice and asking who the real monster is feels somewhat timely, and not only has The Shape Of Water made waves among critics, it is also getting its fair share of attention among audiences around the world.
The film is certainly a frontrunner to make some noise at this year’s Academy Awards. Guillermo del Toro has always been a visionary director, but with The Shape of Water he has taken that several notches further and crafted one of the most visually beautiful and surreal films in years.