Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water" is definitely an...interesting movie. I mean that in the best way, it's just fascinating that a movie like this is getting so much buzz and acclaim during awards season. Typically monster movies or any other movies in the sci-fi genre don't get much recognition during awards like the Golden Globes or the Oscars.
They usually get awards for special effects or for costumes but "The Shape of Water" has been earning nominations left and right! Guillermo del Toro managed to beat out directors Christopher Nolan and Steve Spielberg for the Best Director award at the Golden Globes! It was that win that sold me on finally checking out the movie, and I am so glad I did.
"The Shape of Water" tells the story of a mute custodian in the early 1960s. Elisa works at a high-level government facility that is constantly bringing in secret projects (as this is set during the Cold War.) A strange Amphibian-like monster gets transported to the facility and Elisa begins to sympathize with and feel protective of the creature.
Aided by a rogue doctor and a fellow custodian, her best friend played by Octavia Spencer, Elisa smuggles the creature out of the government lab which is being watched carefully by Col. Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) who caught the monster himself.
The heightened tensions of the Cold War are so prevalent in the movie, the impact this mysterious monster has on Col. Strickland, the American government and the Russian government is fascinating to watch. Elisa's defiance and need to protect the creature is only boosted when you learn how horrible the government agents were treating the monster in attempts to learn its ticks and its origins.
Sally Hawkins plays Elisa and it's no surprise that she's getting a big bulk of these nominations, she plays the role phenomenally and it's even more impressive when you note that she communicates just with her face and via sign language the whole movie. It was a genius move on Del Toro's part to have the mute character be the one with such a close connection to the misunderstood amphibian creature.
Their relationship unfolds so perfectly throughout. There are so many wonderful shots and camera angles in this movie, Del Toro really knows how to build tension and show emotion just using the camera. It's no wonder he won the Best Director award at the Golden Globes, he deserves it.
Every scene works perfectly and nothing seems out of place (there is one or scenes that people will argue are too odd but I'll fight them on that.) The movie is simply a delight to watch, there is so much eye candy and small details to appreciate in the sets
Michael Shannon absolutely kills it in this role, I really loved his villainous performance as General Zod in 2013's "Man of Steel" and I didn't think he'd be able to ramp it up any more notches, but he brings everything he has to this movie. He is such an intimidating villain and there are many twists later in the movie that shows just how far he's willing to go to impress his superiors. Octavia Spencer is perfect, but there's nothing new there. She plays Elisa's sassy best friend and also serves as her translator at work.