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Posts Tagged ‘The Shape of Water’

  1. The Shape Of WaterThe Shape Of Water

  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing MissouriThree Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

  3. Phantom ThreadPhantom Thread

  4. A Quiet PlaceA Quiet Place

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  6. Leave No TraceLeave No Trace

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With all the talk of the race for the best picture, the more interesting Best Director category has been slightly overshadowed.  One thing that is certain, whoever wins it will be there first Oscar.  Three of them have previous nominations, only one, Paul Thomas Anderson for directing. 

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk.  He is also nominated for Best Picture for Dunkirk.  His previous nominations are; Best Original Screenplay for Memento (2000) and Best Picture for Inception (2010). Christopher Nolan

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird – Nominated for her solo directorial début, Lady Bird (she co-directed Nights and Weekends (2008) with Joe Swanberg), Gerwig is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay but not for Best Picture (Lady Bird is nominated for Best Picture but Gerwig is not one of the named producers).Greta Gerwig

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water – Amazingly, del Toro has never won an Oscar! His only previous nomination was for Original Screenplay for Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).  He is also nominated for The Shape of Water in the Best Picture and Original Screenplay categories.Guillermo del Toro

Jordan Peele – Get Out – Get out is Peele’s début as director, he is nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.  They are his first nominations.Jordan Peele

Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread – The veteran of the group, he is nominated for Phantom Thread in the Best Picture category as well as for best director.  His previous nominations are: Best Adapted Screenplay for Inherent Vice (2014), Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for There Will Be Blood (2007), Best Original Screenplay for Magnolia (1999) and Boogie Nights (1997).Paul Thomas Anderson

Who will win?  My choice would be Guillermo del Toro but I would be happy to see any of them win, they deserve to for different reasons. 

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In my last article I commented, somewhat flippantly that many Oscar members vote for films they haven’t seen.  Is this true?  I suspect it is but cannot be sure.  Assuming I am correct, I wondered how people would vote for movies they hadn’t seen.  They could only choose by reputation, with this in mind I asked a few friends and colleagues.  I gave the name of a couple of nominated movies each, and asked what they know about them.    Here are a few real comments, one per movie:

I want to see that, it’s a sort of comedy horror but with black people. Get Out

Not another war movie. Dunkirk

The trailer looks a bit boring.  Is it supposed to be a horror? Phantom Thread

The one with the sweary woman and the raciest cop. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Is that the one about the woman and a fish man? Weird!The Shape of Water

Another comedy about a girl who doesn’t like her mom… and her teacher. Lady Bird

Never heard of it, oh, Is that the Churchill movie, why don’t they just call it Churchill. Darkest Hour

Is that the gay one? Call Me by Your Name

Oh, I like Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.  What’s it about. The Post

I think The Post will pick up the most votes from this type of voter! The voting system for the foreign language movie makes a lot more sense! 

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I have now seen Lady Bird so have included it in my ballot.  As the Oscars are happening in two days, I don’t think I will See Call Me by Your Name before the ceremony. 

* * *

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced about a month ago, voting is about to start in preparation for the ceremony on Sunday, March 4, 2018.  The nominees for best picture are:

Call Me by Your Name – Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, and Marco MorabitoCALL-ME-BY-YOUR-NAME

Darkest Hour – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten, and Douglas UrbanskiDarkest Hour

Dunkirk – Emma Thomas and Christopher NolanDunkirk

Get Out – Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., and Jordan PeeleGet Out

Lady Bird – Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O’Neilllady bird

Phantom Thread – JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupiphantom_thread

The Post – Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko KriegerThe Post - Copy

The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles DaleThe Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonaghThree Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Since 2009, the Academy has allowed more than five films in the best picture category.  At the same time they changed the way this category is voted for.  Unlike the other categories that appear on  ballet as a simple tick box, the Best Picture category has a larger box with a space to rank films in order of preference.  The system known as instant-runoff voting, the idea being that the eventual winner is the film preferred by the widest consensus of voters.

When counted, if a film receives more than half the votes, it is declared the winner.  If there isn’t a winner, the film with the lowest number of first-choice votes is removed from the ballot.  All ballots that places this film at number one are redistributed using the second placed film on the ballot.  This process is continued until there is a clear winner.

I have not received my ballot paper, possibly something to do with not being an academy member.  Were I able to vote, this is my ranking for the best picture nominees:

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Get Out 
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Phantom Thread
  6. Lady Bird
  7. The Post
  8. Darkest Hour

Not Ranked*

  • Call Me by Your Name

*I haven’t ranked this film as I haven’t seen it.  Will the actual voters stick to films they have actually seen, or even better, watch all the nominated films.

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I first came across Guillermo del Toro in 1997 when I rented Mimic on Video (I didn’t see Cronos until some years later on TV). I have since seen every one of his movies in the cinema on their original release. Mimic is an enjoyable genre movie.   It doesn’t do anything outstanding but it does it with a style that made del Toro a director to look out for.  Four years later came the stunning ghost story The Devil’s Backbone.  This was closely followed in 2002 by Blade II.  A big fan of the original Blade, I was curious what a sequel would be like.  With a bigger scope and a more in-depth story it is better than the first film.  This is where I first saw a lot of the themes that have become the mainstay for del Toro stories; themes that were explored further in Hellboy and (2004) and his masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).  My favourite film of the year and possibly the decade.  While I have enjoyed all his films that have followed, none have quite hit the highs of Pan’s Labyrinth until now! Pans labyrinth

Its traditional to start a review, if that is what this is, with a brief synopsis.  Rather than agonising over how much plot to give away in a carefully worded description, I have lifted this from IMDB “At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.”  This is as much as you want to know going in, I would certainly avoid any trailers as they give the whole story away. The Shape of Water PosterThe key to the brilliance of the movie is the central performance by Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito.  The part is largely without speech, but she expresses so much without words.  This isn’t achieved with a silent movie style over exaggerated performance; this is naturalistic, subtle and beautiful.  Without this central performance, the romance that is at the heart of the story would not be believable, but more importantly, we as audiences would not care about it. The Shape of Water

The brilliance of the film goes far beyond the central plot and the main characters: Richard Jenkins plays a neighbour and friend who has his own story, with his own triumphs and failures as well as being key to the central plot.  We get a glimpse of the home life of co-worker Zelda (Ocatavia Spencer).  Then we have Michael Shannon’s character he is essentially the films villain, but he truly believes he is a patriot and the hero.   All these things hold a mirror up to society, how we live and what we believe, not the society of its early 60’s setting, this is a movie for today, a movie for today.  A time of Brexit Britain, Trumps America and tensions between the two Korean states. The-Shape-of-Water-Michael-Shannon-Strickland

The film looks amazing.  Many of the visual effects are real, in camera and not digital.  The production design is stunning, not exactly German Expressionism, but certainly a couple of degrees of real world.  There is so much going on and there are some truly tense scenes, but the film drifts along telling its story with pace and a truly gentle touch.  The themes and metaphors are clear to see but not rammed down our throats.  Del Toro trusts that his audiences with enough intelligence to make their own mind up about what they are seeing as he did with The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.  This all helps make the film totally engrossing, the time absolutely flies by; I was amazed to learn it was just over two hours long, when the credits rolled I would have guessed closer to 90 minutes. Octavia_Spencer_in_The_Shape_of_Water

Nominated for a well-deserved 13 Oscars.  It’s hard to say how many it will win; given the other films nominated, I would probably only give it three or four: Best Achievement in Directing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Sally Hawkins, and Best Achievement in Production Design.  It is credited as a 2017 film, had it been released last year it would have topped my list of favourite films for the year. 

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2018 has started well, as you would expect for awards season we are getting some of the big hitters that came out in the back end of last year in America.  Here are the movies I have seen in January, I expect one or two of them to be in contention for my top ten come year end: 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – A mother personally hires three billboards to challenge a local sheriff to catch the person who raped and murdered her daughter.  So much more than its synopsis.  The cast are all fantastic particularly Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.  Dark and devastatingly funny in equal measure.Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri - Copy

Hostiles – Revisionist western; in his last mission before retiring, an army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief (a former adversary) and his family home. Brutally violent but compelling drama.  Christian Bale is at his intense best.Hostiles

All the Money in the World – True story of the kidnapping of the grandson of the richest man in the world J. Paul Getty.  Overshadowed by the recasting (after the film had wrapped) replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer.  As it turns out, Plummer is the best thing about the film.  Good, but not great.All the Money in the World

Happy End – Michael Haneke’s family drama set in Calais against the backdrop of Europe’s refugee crisis.  I don’t think anyone is expecting a happy end from a Haneke film called Happy, this isn’t as bleak as you may expect!  Intelligently shot and always interesting, Isabelle Huppert is as brilliant as ever.Happy End

Darkest Hour – During his first month in office, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is under tremendous pressure to make peace with Hitler.  His only hope, bringing the British troops, stranded at Dunkirk home.   The film is good, Gary Oldman’s performance is outstanding. The film is best summed up by a line of dialogue, spoken by Viscount Halifax “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle” (I believe broadcaster Edward Murrow said it in real life).Darkest Hour

The Commuter – Liam Neeson, plays the commuter of the title.  A contrived plot forces him to do things he doesn’t want to do in order to keep the story flowing and the action moving.  A by the numbers thriller with all the clichés and telegraphed plot twists you would expect.  Vera Farmiga is wasted in a confused supporting role.  Generally entertaining with an excellent opening sequence.The Commuter

The Post – Spielberg, Streep, Hanks; Three names that come with an expectation of a classy movie, it doesn’t disappoint. Streep and Hanks play the owner and editor of The Washington Post during the time of the publication of The Pentagon Papers.  Clearly made as reaction to the world today, and as such sadly relevant.The Post

Coco – Set on Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), a twelve year old boy is transported to the Land Of The Dead and must seek the help of his ancestors to return home  before dawn.  Pixar’s best movie since Inside Out.Coco - Copy

Downsizing – High concept satirical Sci-Fi about shrinking people to about five inches tall to solve the worlds overcrowding problems.  The ideas are better than the execution resulting in a film that is always interesting but rarely thrilling.

DOWNSIZING

12 Strong – True story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11.  Having more in common with a classic western than a war movie.  Entertaining, informative, well made with a great cast but too gung-ho for its own good.12 Strong

Early Man – The latest from Aardman Animations is advertised as a Bronze Age comedy history, it is actually a football comedy.  A little lightweight but amusing movie.Early Man

The Shape of Water – A mute woman working as a janitor at government facility forms a bond with a captured amphibious creature.  Another dark fairytale from Guillermo del Toro full of the themes you would expect, a beautiful and moving movie, his best since Pan’s Labyrinth.The Shape of Water

Maze Runner: The Death Cure – After losing its way in the second movie the YA adaptation finds its way in a the final instalment. Retaining the action throughout, it doesn’t offer anything new but is enjoyable and exciting film, the opening sequence is particularly good.Maze Runner The Death Cure

Easy choice, my movie of the month is: The Shape of Water Poster

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