We’re handicapping the odds on the nine Best Picture contenders for the March 4 Academy Awards. Today: The Shape of Water.
Guillermo del Toro made his finned infatuation fantasy as much for himself as for his audience, since he’s long adored movie monsters.
But The Shape of Water certainly has its hooks into Academy voters, who have given a leading 13 Oscar nominations to del Toro’s captivating tale of a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a humanoid water creature.
It’s by far the obvious choice for a Best Picture win, a feeling bolstered by the many lead-up prizes the film has earned. But will it be the actual choice at Sunday’s awards ceremony, given that the preferential ballot for this category — and the vote-sharing it entails — often leads to surprise results?
I’m betting The Shape of Water will indeed take Best Picture, despite the fact there’s an omission the size of Moby Dick in its pre-Oscars school of awards fish: no nomination for Best Ensemble from the Screen Actors Guild. Only once before has a SAG ensemble non-nominee gone on to win Oscar’s Best Picture, and that was Braveheart in 1995.
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Quick Pitch: It’s 1962, and while the Cold War rages between the U.S. and Soviet Union, love is quietly heating up between a mute cleaning woman (Sally Hawkins) and a humanoid water creature (Doug Jones). But the Americans and Russians have military plans, not romantic ones, for the merman locked inside a secret Baltimore research facility.
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg.
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro.
Key early kudos: BFCA Critics’ Choice Best Picture, PGA Best Picture, DGA Best Director, Golden Globes Best Director, Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Best Film.
Box office (domestic, U.S. dollars): $ 55.8 million
Ladbrokes odds: 6/4
Howell’s line: This fish story won’t be about the one that got away.
Star rating: 3-1/2 stars (out of 4)
Full review: Here.