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.
The Film Is A Subtle Reflection Of Our Times
Good sci-fi / fantasy takes the world we live in, and shows it to us with a flare that makes it familiar and yet fantastical. The Shape of Water does just that in its running time, as it weaves a story of fear and love involving the unknown. The disenfranchised are the heroes, the status quo is the opposition, and in the end, love conquers all. With love and understanding, the world of The Shape of Water becomes a better place for our protagonists -- and it encourages us to do the same in our daily lives.
There are many other reasons why The Shape of Water deserved the top honors of 2017's film market, but out of that wide field, these three are the most worthy of our attention. And this film is more than worthy of your time, as you can see if you enjoy the film on Digital HD now, or on 3/13 when the film hits DVD and Blu-ray (opens in new tab).
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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