It was a moment that felt like it came straight from the movies. At the end of the 90th Academy Awards, after seeing Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read this year's honored nominees for Best Picture, the award was called for director Guillermo del Toro's film, The Shape of Water. While there was some apprehension in the shadow of last year's big-ticket fiasco, at the end of the night, Del Toro himself confirmed with a nod and a grin that his masterpiece was the top honored film of the year.
Some viewers may have been surprised by the result, but even if they were, it's hard for them not to see why The Shape of Water would win the highest prize of 2017's awards season crop. In fact, you could narrow it down to three key reasons that explain not only why the film won, but also why it's so well regarded in the first place. Those three reasons are the following, shared in honor of the latest Best Picture to join the gallery of past honorees:
It's A Heartfelt Tribute To Hollywood / Genre Filmmaking
There are two great loves in Guillermo del Toro's life: classic Hollywood and genre-laden storytelling. Those twin obsessions that he constantly indulges in have lead to popcorn theatrics like Pacific Rim and deeply felt classics like Pan's Labyrinth. And both are certainly on display in The Shape of Water, as del Toro has delivered a modern version of both Beauty and The Beast and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Better still, he's done it using old school Hollywood tricks and on a sensible budget, much like the classic monster movies of old.
Every Performance Is Top Notch
It's hard to pick a favorite performance in The Shape of Water, as the diverse cast all fill their roles spectacularly. The supporting cast of Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, and Michael Stuhlbarg all get their moments to shine as three dimensional characters who make the world of 1960's Baltimore come to vibrant life. But the wordless performances of Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones are the true heart of this film, as their primarily physical acting speaks volumes that mere words could not reach.