From visionary director Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labrynth glory, comes a fantasy love movie that blew up its competition at the 90th Academy Awards. Nominated in thirteen categories, The shape of water won Oscars for Best Production Design, Best Original Music, Best Director, and Best of Motion Picture, Best Picture. Faced with memorable selections like Get out, Lady Bird, Call me by your name, Phantom wire, and more, he won against fierce competition, and not all critics agreed that he deserved the highest honor.
After the life of a mute cleaner in a government facility in the early 1960s in Baltimore, the story concocted by Guillermo del Toro takes a unique turn when she falls in love with a half-man, half-fish who is kept in the establishment as a research test subject. Years later, people are still talking about the film’s merits, and if that isn’t proof that it deserved every last golden statue, we’ve rounded up seven reasons why The shape of water holds to this day. Whether it’s the incredible performances by talented actors, an inventive plot, or a set design that anchors the period piece in a reality full of fantastical elements, the timeless film is undoubtedly worth a look if you didn’t see it the first time, and will remain an important part of cinema history into the future.
The storyline is quite different from the movies made today.
The plot of the film, as well as the dialogue, is so special compared to the usual blockbuster hits or independent dishes of today. Watching the movie, it’s easy to forget how odd the concept is, getting carried away by the characters and the story. It is the magic of cinema worthy of an Academy, it makes us sympathize with characters with whom we have nothing in common, finding ourselves rooted in the relationship of a woman with a man-fish who subsists exclusively of eggs.
Sally Hawkins plays her eccentric maid role
Before appearing in The shape of water, British actress Sally Hawkins already had an award-winning acting career on several continents. After watching the movie, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else taking on the role with such a full understanding of the character. A mute woman living a simple and quiet life, she opens up, transforms herself by falling in love with another being who understands what it is to live on the margins of society.
The score is an absolute home run
The film’s score is by the legendary composer Alexandre Desplat. Desplat has racked up awards from BAFTAs to Caesars to Oscars, marking a seemingly endless cavalcade of commercially successful and critically acclaimed films, with titles like Argo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I and II, and so many others. To create the score, Desplat worked with del Toro to create music that actually contained waves, in the hopes of creating a “warm” sensation evoking the feeling of falling in love.
Octavia Spencer kills as a sidekick
Actress Octavia Spencer is best known for her key roles in films such as Hidden numbers and Ugly. While she was a supporting character in the film, it wouldn’t have worked without her character, who played a crucial role in the film. As a fellow cleaner at the government facility and close friend of the main character Sally Hawkins, she realizes Hawkins’ budding romance and helps him sneak in to see her aquatic friend.
Production design makes the world real
Production design is so often overlooked in filmmaking as audiences focus more on acting performance and camera work. But the production design, when done right, becomes almost invisible, as it immerses us in the world of film, allowing the story to unfold. For The shape of water, the director and production designer looked at thousands of paint colors to choose the one that best suited Hawkins’ character’s apartment, choosing to keep a color palette of dark browns, grays, and rusty greens. throughout the elegant film.
Specific plot details make for a compelling story
While the film might have existed without the Cold War context, and still would have had plenty of sources to work with, basing the supernatural film in historical fiction makes for a fascinating watch. Not only does Hawkins attempt to steal his beloved from a top secret government facility, but she also works with a Russian spy to prevent her from being dissected by the Americans. After successfully sneaking the Fishman out, Hawkins keeps him in her tub, where she discovers his power to heal wounds, physical and possibly emotional as well.
The man-fish / man romance is fascinating to watch
While internet talk was quick to poke fun at the film, calling it the odd story of a woman falling in love with a fish, the original idea at the heart of the film is what makes it so special. Knowing the basics of the plot in advance almost becomes a challenge, daring the film to get you rooted for the inter-species relationship. It’s here that The shape of water succeeds, converting even the fiercest critics into romantics, wowed by the couple’s beautifully told, improbable tale.
Topics: The Shape of Water, Oscars
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7 reasons why the shape of water still deserves its Oscar for best picture