UPDATE: The Shape of Water wins Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards.
Well, friends, we’ve made it. The final film in my Oscars Challenge 2018 is The Shape of Water. Nominated for 13 Oscars, which is just one shy of a record, Guillermo del Toro’s latest work is obviously a heavy favorite going into Sunday night.
The Shape of Water is set in early-sixties Baltimore, smack dab in the middle of the space race and the Cold War. We meet Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), who was found abandoned as a baby, and who is mute. Her disability has not afforded her much in the way of opportunity in life. She works a day job as a cleaner at a military research lab and doesn’t have much in the way of companionship either. She’s friends with fellow cleaner Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) who she relies on to translate her sign language. Elisa also has a friendship with neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who lives across the way from Elisa in apartments above a movie theater. When officials, led by Col. Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), bring in a mysterious creature to the facility to supposedly test to send it into space, Elisa’s life changes forever. She communicates with it through sign language and the two form an impenetrable bond. But, when Elisa learns why the creature was ultimately brought to the facility, she’ll be forced to choose to risk her life to save it.
Guillermo del Toro has done it again! Despite its fairly violent and gruesome scenes, The Shape of Water addressed themes of loneliness and companionship. Historically, del Toro’s films celebrate characters considered as “outsiders” and he continues this here by showcasing Elisa, the creature, and Giles in their loneliness and how they find meaning and purpose in their lives despite what the world hands them. This is even true for Zelda, who faces racism in the workplace and troubles at home with her husband. Visually, the film was a masterpiece from beginning, where we see Elisa lying on a couch underwater as things in her apartment gracefully fall into place, to end, where light and water combine in the most magical of ways. The use of water was at the forefront, of course, and del Toro does an exquisite job of keeping it that way. Even making simple rain drops on a window look entrancing.
Entrancing is exactly what The Shape of Water was, indeed. It’s one of my personal favorites to win Best Picture and I will not be surprised if it does so.
I Give It An: A+
Check Out The Trailer Here