Today we are going to be discussing the best picture winner of 2018. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water surrounds the story of Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a lonely janitor whose life gets flipped around through their encounters with a mysterious amphibious creature (played by Toby Jones). The film is shot predominantly in a government research facility in Baltimore, where Strickland (Michael Shannon), oversaw the capture and study of the amphibious creature.
First, lets get this out of the way: I do not believe that this film deserved to win best picture at the 90th academy awards. It was bare bones average. Looking at all the nominees that year, I would’ve personally given the award to Get Out. That being said, there are several reasons why I find this movie to be just mediocre.
Firstly, its story is weak and just didn’t do enough to keep me hooked on for the entirety of the film. It was a snooze fest for sure. The pacing of this film is a bit slow for my taste, and the way that it was edited was reminiscent of Hollywood films released in the 1960s and 70s; films that I am just out of touch with. Though this is a romantic movie at its core, The Shape of Water dabbles with way too many other themes in order to keep itself relevant to the issues we are facing today. The film features story threads about homosexuality, cruelty to animals, treatment of the disabled, racial tensions between different ethnic groups, and so on and so forth. I honestly believe that the film could have benefited itself by not incorporating these themes.
The romance between Sally Hawkin’s character and the amphibious creature was also very awkward and uncomfortable. A particular lowlight of this relationship was an elaborate white/black song and dance sequence that just seemed out of place. I also couldn’t help but notice how similar this amphibious creature looked to Abe Sapien in Hellboy 2 (see below):
Abe Sapien from Hellboy 2 (left), Amphibious Creature (right). Could both these films be set in the same universe?
But this film wasn’t all that bad. The cinematography and color palettes were just brilliant; some shots in the movie make for great desktop screensavers. The relationship between Elisa and the creature, though awkward and uncomfortable, did relay the important message that we shouldn’t be judged by how we look but the positive ideals, kindness, and love that we radiate. Sally Hawkins’ performance was also a positive highlight; it is challenging to play a mute and I think she did the best possible job she could’ve done.
In summary, did The Shape of Water deserve its best picture win? In my opinion, no. But are there things to like about this film? Absolutely yes.