#RoadtoOscars: The Shape of Water Review

Road to the Oscars: The Shape of Water

Every once in a while a film comes out that makes you think about the things that you take for granted.

Guillermo del Toro’s new film The Shape of Water has a total of 13 Oscar nominations, the most nominated film of the year. A masterpiece on its own, the film deals with topics that aren’t normally seen in Academy-recognized films.

First of all, it is a science fiction film; this type of genre is not normally recognized by the Academy. The setting is in the United States during the 1960's, the peak of the Cold War which had the country on its toes. Elisa, the main character, is a mute woman who works as a janitor in a U.S. government lab since that is the only job she is allowed to have because of her disability. She has a daily routine that includes her close friends Giles and Zelda, but one day, her routine-filled life is interrupted by a wondrous surprise: a new experiment is brought to the lab. Elisa discovers that it is an amphibious creature whose purpose is to be used by the U.S. government to win the space race that has been happening with the Russians. Elisa starts to communicate with the creature through sign language, the first time her disability has come in handy for her. Through her direct communication with the creature, she starts developing a plan to help it escape from the lab.

Elisa has never been able to speak, thus making her life a little harder than most. She is not treated very well by those in her work save for her close friends. Yet, Elisa walks with her head held high and always does what she believes in. She cares deeply about others and puts them first. The concept of the Amphibian Man is one that was developed way better than expected. Maybe it is because I didn’t know much about it when I saw it, but it went deeper into his story than I imagined it would. It was simple, yet intriguing.

The film is beautifully shot, rightfully earning the Cinematography nomination. It also is nominated for Production Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Costume Design and Film Editing. While it is beautiful, it doesn’t deserve to win all of the visual effects categories. Cinematography and Production Design should suffice.

It also garnered nominations in all of the acting categories, including Best Director. Guillermo del Toro deserves to win his Oscar nomination, and in the acting category, all of the actors did an amazing job. My favorite one was Richard Jenkins as Elisa’s closeted gay best friend Giles; he manages to show the hardships of the 1960's towards gay men while Octavia Spencer’s Zelda shows the racism that was still going on towards African Americans. Octavia Spencer’s performance was good, but not as amazing as her previous one in the film The Help.



The Best Original Score Oscar is one it should definitely win since the score was pure perfection. It encompasses the music of the era and just adds a bit of a twist. Simple, yet perfect.

As for Best Original Screenplay, I think it’s not going to win, but it would be nice if it did win it.

Is The Shape of Water Best Picture material? Yes, it is. It is an unusual pick for the Academy, but it encompasses what it looks for in a Best Picture which are: historical periods, social commentary and an original story.

Keep in mind, this is not a film for everyone. Some might find it uncomfortable which is understandable since Guillermo del Toro’s work is not up everyone’s alley. Still, it is a beautiful film and one that shows us how important communication is and how we should all be able to understand each other for the greater good. Once again, the Academy chose to recognize a film about the positive effects of communication, like 2016’s Arrival.



Picture Credit: rottentomatoes.com