It seems almost certain that 2018 is Guillermo del Toro’s year to bag an Oscar – and it’s about damn time.
He already had the Golden Globe for Best Director in his back pocket, and last night he added a BAFTA to his haul.
But the Oscar is the big prize everyone’s eyeing up – will he complete his trophy cabinet with an Oscar statuette?
It seems like a done deal, given the other major awards he’s already picked up, but the Oscars aren’t traditionally big fans of fantasy or sci-fi, and with its girl-meets-fish-monster premise, The Shape Of Water is far from the usual Oscars fare.
The Academy could choose to honour Greta Gerwig for her phenomenally well-reviewed Lady Bird, or Christopher Nolan for the epic visuals of Dunkirk.
They’re both great films – and, crucially, neither has a whiff of fantasy about them.
But del Toro is the most deserving winner this year.
The Shape Of Water is a truly brilliant film – moving, engrossing, thrilling and unexpectedly sexy.
It boasts a heart-warming message about love and looking beyond exteriors in a way that transcends romantic love. It’s a movie that’s as much about friendship as it is about finding The One.
Del Toro draws incredible performances from his actors – who, sadly, are being overshadowed by the Three Billboards cast at awards ceremonies so far.
But del Toro is a director who has always known that the performances are just one part of a film – albeit a crucial part.
Visually, he’s been one of the most interesting directors around for more than a decade.
But his love of the gothic – and monster movies – has largely kept him away from Oscar-fodder films so far.
His Hellboy films are some of the best comic book movies ever made, but they’re never going to win him an Oscar. Ditto ghost story Crimson Peak.
Due to various cancelled projects, there was a five-year gap in his CV after Hellboy II, and he came back with Pacific Rim – the biggest and dumbest movie he’s ever made, the perfect blow-out after five years of career frustration.
But obviously not an Oscar contender.
His best film, prior to The Shape Of Water, was the dark and utterly sublime Pan’s Labyrinth, but its abundance of monsters and the fact that it was in Spanish left it unfairly overlooked come awards season.
(Although it did secure the Best Foreign Language Film BAFTA and Best Cinematography at the Oscars, along with some technical trophies. It also did well in non-Hollywood awards ceremonies.)
With The Shape Of Water, he’s managed to produce an awards-friendly monster movie, and FINALLY awards bodies can give him some love.
His Oscar competition this year have all done sterling work, but none have shown the scope that del Toro demonstrates in The Shape Of Water.
In one film, he shows that he’s a master of emotional drama, tension, humour, lush visuals, special effects and getting amazing performances out of his cast.
The Shape Of Water probably won’t pick up Best Film – its male lead is a fish monster, after all.
But surely – SURELY – this is del Toro’s year to pick up Best Director. He deserves it.