Movie Views: Diving into Oscar Run Stop 3, THE SHAPE OF WATER

Movie Views: Diving into Oscar Run Stop 3, THE SHAPE OF WATER

Love takes many forms, and sometimes in very unexpected ways. This weekend, we embarked on stop #3 of #OscarRun 2018 with Guillermo del Toro‘s THE SHAPE OF WATER. I first want to say out of the gate that I have only seen parts of HELLBOY (but enjoyed what I saw) and I’ve yet to see what is regarded as the director’s masterpiece PAN’S LABYRYNTH but want to do so (perhaps even more than before). This latest feature film from del Toro is enchanting and engrossing. I knew the acting would be wonderful with such a stellar cast, in particular leading lady Sally Hawkins, who plays a shy, lonely woman unable to speak, using sign language throughout the film, but who conveys so much with a single look or sly smile. She is flanked by a perfectly cast group of actors in Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg (who fellow BOARDWALK EMPIRE fans will recognize), Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and my particular favorite, Michael Shannon.

 

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Is there anything that Michael Shannon cannot play? I really don’t think so. The actor’s intensity fills up the screen in every scene but these other actors are able to still shine in his presence. Since I first recall meeting up with this talented actor in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, I’ve been captivated by his willingness to dig deep into a character and figuratively turn them inside out to expose every facet of who they are. His turn on BOARDWALK EMPIRE brought the show to a completely different level, and for anyone to steal away my focus from Steve Buscemi, one of my all-time favorites and lead for that great HBO television gem, that is something pretty incredible.  In many of his roles, Shannon unveils bit by bit, like peeling back the layers of an onion, just how evil the character is capable of being, and this latest portrayal is no exception. His take on Richard Strickland is cruel, driven and scary as hell. It’s not surprising that Shannon, along with Hawkins, Spencer and Jenkins, are all nominated for acting Oscars, as well as film and director, of the core 30 nominations I try to see before the March 4 Awards Ceremony. In total, SHAPE received 13 Oscar nominations, leading all other films in contention.

 

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What can I tell you about THE SHAPE OF WATER, or maybe more accurately, what should I tell you? I would rather you went into the film knowing as little as possible about the plot. But I will tell you that you should enter the theater with an open and willing mind to embrace the tale you will be told about a young woman during the Cold War in the United States, who lives a simple and predictable life, some would say boring. She has an unappealing job (though her place of employment would be a pretty exciting place to explore), supportive friends and a happy, carefree way about her, but something is missing in her life – love. And having met my own hubby at work 24 years ago, I speak from experience when I say — love can sneak up on you in the unlikeliest places and circumstances.

 

 

The imagery is striking, and the film shot with a tenderness about it coupled with a lovely score, including great use of the endearing musicals of the ’30s and ’40s. The plot is not all that complex but its characters’ actions and motivations intrigued me. I found myself quietly thinking back to walking out of my bedroom as a toddler into the dark living room to join my mom on the couch in a fond memory I have watching THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON with her. The director of this charming film has admitted that his leading “fish-man” was inspired by the title creature in that 1954 classic.  I’m sure my affection for that film added to my enthusiasm as I watched SHAPE.

 

 

I was surprised by my reaction to this film.  I experienced some raw emotion that I had not anticipated at a key moment thanks to the director’s tender touch and Jenkins’ gentle reading of a poem. I am happy to say that I have yet another movie, along with GET OUT, that I will be rooting for at the 2018 Oscars for Best Picture, and one that I will look forward to watching again. But hey, there are still movies to be seen, so who knows? There may be others I will enjoy even more. But, if you ask me, THE SHAPE OF WATER is one you shouldn’t miss. Thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.

 

On a scale of 0-100, I give THE SHAPE OF WATER a 93.

 

 

 

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