While the Oscar race is just gearing up, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water could become a heavyweight. The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, played at Telluride, and will play at the Toronto International Film Festival, just earned the highest honor at Venice, picking up the festival’s Golden Lion. While the Golden Lion doesn’t mean a surefire path to even a nomination, it does help keep the momentum going.
“I believe in life, I believe in love and I believe in cinema,” declared a visibly moved del Toro as he accepted his award to a thundering standing ovation — his first festival honor since “Pan’s Labyrinth” took the 2006 Cannes jury prize.
It will be interesting to see del Toro can get his due with Academy voters. Unlike his friends and Oscar-winners Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman) and Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), del Toro has remained slightly outside the attention of the Academy, arguably because his work his unapologetically in the realm of genre and the supernatural, two categories voters typically shun. And yet The Shape of Water is a love story between a woman and a sea creature, and the Academy membership is becoming younger, more diverse, and open to different kinds of movies. I’m very curious to see how its awards chances develop, and I’m even more curious to just see the movie. Click here for Brian Formo’s review of The Shape of Water from Venice.
Other big winners at Venice included Samuel Maoz picking up the Grand Jury Prize for Foxtrot, Charlotte Rampling earning Best Actress for Hannah, Kamel El Basha winning Best Actor for The Insult, Martin McDonagh taking home Best Screenplay for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Best Director going to Xavier Legrand for Custody.