The Shape of Telluride Film Fest: Del Toro & Others, Monster Wins

The Shape of Telluride Film Fest: Del Toro & Others, Monster Wins

The 44th annual Telluride Film Festival won Big at the 90th Annual Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” which also won for Production Design and Music (Original Score) and Best Actor for Gary Oldman in “The Darkest Hour,” which also nabbed Makeup and Hairstyling. Greta Gerwig and “Lady Bird” also got a world of love – and photo ops. “A Fantastic Woman” won Best Foreign Language Film. “The Insult,” “Loveless,” and “Faces Places” were also nominated.

All you need is love.

And just like that Guillermo del Toro’s surreal adult fairy tale about a mute janitor who falls in love with a captive god-like merman won big at the 90th Annual Academy Awards – and Del Toro himself won Best Director.

Guillermo del Toro at the Oscars, curtesy, The Hollywood Reporter.

As quick as you can say “And the envelope please,” at the 90th annual Academy Awards, “The Shape of Water” joined a long, illustrious list of Oscar-winners that premiered at the Telluride Film Fest – including last year’s “Moonlight,” also “Spotlight,” “Birdman,” “12 Years A Slave,” “Argo,” ‘The Artist,” “The King’s Speech,” and “Slumdog Millionaire” – and in one magical moment, broke the stranglehold musicals and dramas have had on the Oscars, becoming the first ever true sci-fi film to win a golden statue.

In the past, sci-films have made their way onto Oscar ballots before “Shape of Water,” dramas like “Arrival” (2016); “The Martian” (2015); and “Gravity” (2013). As have classics like “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977); “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” (1982); and Kubrick’s beloved “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), which did not even get a Best Pic nod.

The only fantasy-adventure film that managed to take home the top prize at the Oscars was Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2004. That year, the epic won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Why the “Shape of Water?,” an A-plus project – a soaring musical, a Cold War noir, and romantic comedy rolled into one irresistible package – that unapologetically nods to B-horror flicks?

The short answer is propitious entry or right time, right place.

In this Year of Inclusion on what proved to be a very “woke” evening, the star of “Shape of Water” is a woman, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who plays a blue collar worker – who is also mute and sexually harassed. Eilsa’s besties are a repressed, depressed gay artist (Richard Jenkins) and a black custodian (Octavia Spencer), who is her Rock of Gilbratar. Those unlikely muskateers team up to save the life of an amphibious sea “monster” (Doug Jones as The Other), by facing off against the real monsters, government suits, who themselves are facing off against, you guessed it, the Russians.

Oh, and let’s not forget, del Toro himself is an immigrant.

So yes, “Shape” checks all the right boxes.

Then there was also the film’s winning streak at Oscar precursors  – Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Award, Producers Guild Award, Directors Guild of America – plus media buzz, a brilliant marketing campaign – and 13 Oscar nominations.

“Shape’s” win was no big surprise, however, to Telluride Film Fest regulars, who embraced the beauitfully made movie and its message about unconditional love, which like water, when it hits, “takes the shape of the vessel it occupies,” per del Toro, and whose “beast” is not forced to shape shift into a handsome prince.

He is beautiful in Elisa’s big brown eyes just as he is.

Self acceptance (and tolerance in general) rules.

What’s more, we called “Shape’s” win back on September 5, 2017, right after the curtain came down of the Telluride Film Fest, where year after memorable year, Oscar buzz and movie love stroll together down Main Street.

Check out our full review of “The Shape of Water” and other Telluride Film Fest films here.

We also predicted a Big Win/Best Actor for Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour.”

Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release, courtesy,

“…The illustrious roll call of “Winnies” includes Albert Finney, Brendan Gleeson, Timothy Spall, Robert Hardy, Brian Cox and John Lithgow, who played the elder statesman in “The Crown,” the 2016 Netflix series about Queen Elisabeth II. But the buck stops here: if there is justice in the world, Gary Oldman’s superb, warts-and-all, full-bodied portrayal should make him a frontrunner for next year’s Best Actor.”

Go here for a full list of Oscar winners.



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