The Shape of Water (2017)
“Words lie, but looks don’t…When you fall in love, you fall in love, absolutely, all at once, all-in. It’s a miracle” (Guillermo del Toro).
“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere” .
This tale of unlikely love between the Princess without Voice or Elisa and the creature from the Amazon has been nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and there are good reasons for this furore. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)) has finally made the movie he wanted to make for a long time. Del Toro merges different cinematic genres (fantasy, drama and romance), while paying tribute to black-and-white Hollywood musicals and B-movie monsters, to produce a movie which is almost faultless in its directional execution, acting and emotional content. The director draws on a number of sources to tell the unlikely love story which, among many other things, portrays and sympathises with the lives of the “underdog” minority, and engagingly sets out the high-pressure conditions of living in the times of the Cold War.
**SPOILER ALERT FOR THE FILM “THE SHAPE OF WATER”**
A number of newspapers and news sources (such as IndieWire, DailyMail) reported that French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet accused Guillermo del Toro of copying one of his scenes from his movie “Delicatessen” (1991) for del Toro’s latest film “The Shape of Water“. Moreover, Jeunet accused del Toro of copying the character of Amelie from “Amelie” (2001) for “The Shape of Water“. In particular, there is a scene in Jeunet’s movie “Delicatessen” where Louison (Pinon) and Plusse (Viard) appear “dancing” to music while sitting on a bed. In “The Shape of Water“, the characters played by Hawkins and Jenkins also perform a step-dance while sitting on a sofa. As for “Amelie“, the French director claims that the concepts of a shy and naive girl, a painter and an apartment were lifted off straight from “Amelie” to make “The Shape of Water“. The Mexican director defended himself by saying that it was Terry Gilliam who influenced both Jeunet and himself.
My favourite to win: The Shape of Water
It is a bit of a surprise that “Phantom Thread” as well as “Get Out” made this list. “Get Out” is a horror (not the Academy Awards’ favourite genre), which was released a bit less than one year ago. Even though it is good to see the Academy nominating such a dark-horse, the amazement is still there. For all its unforgettably tense psychological atmosphere, “Get Out” is still a flawed film (see my review here), and one may wonder whether, as with “Moonlight” the year before, there were not some “race politics” involved in this decision as well. On the other hand, such a great film as “The Florida Project” is nowhere to be seen here, which is astounding. I guess the Academy thought that by nominating “Call Me By Your Name”, they would be done with it when it comes to paying their dues and nominating aesthetically-pleasing, independent-spirited films. The limit is ten nominees per category, and, surely, “The Florida Project” deserves its tenth place on this list.
Although there are six years separating the movies and they have distinct plots, “The Others” and “The Orphanage” have things in common, such as a Spanish production and a near-perfect execution.
The Others (2001)
“The Others” is a ghost horror movie directed by Spanish Alejandro Amenábar. It became the first film in history to receive the prestigious Spanish Goya Award in the Best Picture category for a film where not a line was spoken in Spanish (IMDB).“The Others” tells of a single mother Grace (Nicole Kidman) who, together with her two small children, Anne and Nicolas, lives in a remote house in Jersey just after the WWII. The household has changed a number of servants, and welcomed the arrival of three new ones: Mrs Mills, a housekeeper, Edmund Tuttle, a gardener and Lydia, a mute girl servant. After the servants’ arrival, the mother and her children start to detect intruders in their home, who sometimes leave very surprising traces.
This may not be Jean Cocteau classic, but something must explain its current opening success in Italy. There are things here I like: Vincent Cassel as Beast/Prince, a powerful soundtrack and great visuals. I hear the story does not live up to all the visuals, but it’s a rule, rather than an exception today. Apparently, there is another “Beauty and the Beast” movie to be announced with Emma Watson in it, but we will also see other Disney animation-themed movies soon. Joe Wright is directing “Pan” (2015), “the origin” story of Peter Pan staring Hugh Jackman; “Maleficent” (2014) with Angelina Jolie is coming soon, and we anticipate (for years now) “a darker version” of the fairy-tale “Pinocchio” (2016) – an animated film directed by Guillermo del Toro.
In no particular order:
1) Abre los Ojos (1997)
2) All About My Mother (1999)
3) Volver (2006)
4) Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
5) Sin Nombre (2009)