If you haven’t watched all of the movies nominated for an Oscar this year, now is your last chance to catch up — and you might want to start with The Shape Of Water, a fantasy drama directed by Guillermo del Toro that has been nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, including Best Drama Motion Picture. The Shape Of Water plot summary is incredibly interesting, unique, and enticing, so it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss. So, what is about?
Let’s start with the basics: The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, and Michael Stuhlbarg and is set in Baltimore, Maryland in 1962, during the Cold War. It’s about a mute custodian, Elisa (played by Hawkins), who works at a high-security government laboratory and falls in love with a strange amphibian creature.
This creature, though, isn’t your average amphibian. Dubbed the “Asset,” it was captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland (played by Shannon), and is actually a fish-human hybrid that the government is studying. Throughout the research, the Asset is brutally tortured and treated as nothing more than government property, despite the fact that he poses no threat to anyone. It’s been pointed out several times that this is an obvious reference point to Creature From The Black Lagoon, which is a horror movie about a weird fish-human creature during the Cold War.
The Asset is treated poorly by most of the people in the lab, but especially by Strickland. Elisa, on the other hand, treats the Asset as a friend, feeding him, trying to do things to make him happy, and eventually falling in love with him.
It seems weird, but when you consider the characters, it starts to make sense. Elisa is a mute person who communicates using sign language, and she isn’t treated very humanely herself. Her two best friends are Zelda (played by Spencer), an African-American woman who works with her, and Giles (played by Jenkins), a gay man who lives next door to her. They are, essentially, a group of outcasts, welcoming another outcast. They are also fighting against Strickland, who seems intent on destroying the Asset no matter what — Strickland is clearly the villain of the movie.
Del Toro is known for making movies about monsters and super-human creatures (he’s the master behind Hellboy, to name just one previous film he’s directed). This film is being praised by critics as one of his best. In a review, Forbes said del Toro has “managed to depict a loving, consummated relationship between Sally Hawkins and a slimy fish creature, and not induce the audience into vomiting. Not only is this most-unconventional relationship not stomach-churning, it’s actually rather beautiful.” If that’s not intriguing, we’re not sure what is. See the trailer:
The Shape Of Water was awarded the Golden Lion for best film in the 74th Venice International Film Festival. Hawkins is getting a tremendous amount of praise for her role as Elisa — it has already scored her a Best Actress in a Drama nomination at the Golden Globes. Spencer received a Best Supporting Actress nomination, Jenkins snagged a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and del Toro got a Best Director nomination. It was also nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Original Score.
Clearly, the film is one to watch, and judging by the nominations and praise it’s already received, it’s sure to be a big one at the Academy Awards as well. We know what we’re watching this weekend!