On Monday, December 11, 2017 the nominations for the Golden Globe Awards were announced, officially kicking off the 2018 awards show season. Each year I try to see as many of the nominated films as possible. One of the nominees getting a ton of buzz is Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water. The director became well known here in the States after his 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth.
I saw the preview for The Shape of Water when I went to see Lady Bird over Thanksgiving weekend. I was immediately enchanted by its whimsy and fantasy. The film is set in 1962 and stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa, a woman who is mute and works as a maid in a factory. One day, during Elisa's usual cleaning routine, she witnesses an unusual creature being brought into the laboratory. Captivated by its beauty, she attempts to make a connection with him.
I hadn't seen Sally Hawkins in anything before this, though I remember her winning a Golden Globe in 2009 for her role in Happy-Go-Lucky. It's an incredible task to make an audience root for you without ever saying a word. Hawkins draws you in, makes you feel her pain and generates sincere kindness and empathy from the audience.
Guillermo Del Toro recently said, "Not only was she the first choice, she was the only choice. I wrote the movie for Sally. I wanted the character of Elisa to be beautiful, in her own way, not in a way that is like a perfume commercial kind of way. That you could believe that this character, this woman would be sitting next to you on the bus. But at the same time she would have a luminosity, a beauty, almost magical, ethereal."
Elisa is supported in her life by two friends - her neighbor Giles (played by Richard Jenkins) and her co-worker Zelda (played by Octavia Spencer). Giles is a bit of a lost soul and when Elisa calls on him for help, he hesitates, but is ultimately swayed by her desperate plea. Personally, I felt Octavia Spencer was totally under utilized. This is a brilliant actress. She shouldn't be playing anyone's sidekick!
The tension in the film comes from the disgusting behavior of Elisa and Zelda's boss, Richard, played by Michael Shannon. Shannon makes a superb villain. There is one scene where Richard sexually harasses Elisa at work and it was just a bit too raw given everything going on in our world right now.
Though I went into the theater thinking the film would mostly be a love story told through magical realism, it was actually quite violent and there was way more nudity than I was expecting. This movie is truly rated R.
I appreciated The Shape of Water for its creativity, imagination and stunning visuals, but I didn't love it. Tune in on January 7, 2018 to see if it takes home one of the seven Golden Globes it's nominated for. It's up for awards in the following categories: Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Score.
Before the awards show season is over I want to be sure to see Molly's Game, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Post and I, Tonya.