Guillermo del Toro reflects on The Shape of Water becoming a monstrous Globes contender
Creature features don’t typically get awards. Guillermo del Toro knows this.
Usually, a film that features scares and a fearsome otherworldly creature can count on being forgotten during Hollywood’s trophy season. They are seldom even considered.
But with The Shape of Water collecting a leading seven Golden Globe nominations on Monday, including one for best drama, it becomes one of the leading contenders for the Oscars this year.
“You always have a kinship with the audience. The genre of the fantastic creates one of the most loyal, enduring bonds with the audience. But normally they are just the measure of your obsession, in terms of awards,” del Toro told EW.
Not this time.
Del Toro’s film, which is out in limited release now but debuts nationwide on Dec. 22, tells the story of a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) who develops a heartfelt bond with an amphibious creature who has been captured and held in a government facility for study.
In addition to best drama, the movie’s Globe nominations include best director and screenwriter for del Toro, lead actress in a drama for Hawkins, and supporting nods for costars Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins, who play the friends who help Hawkins try to liberate her aquatic friend. Alexandre Desplat also picked up a nomination for original score.
In celebrating the nominations announcement, he gave a shoutout to Jordan Peele’s blockbuster Get Out, a wry horror film that got a nomination for best picture in the musical/comedy category and picked up a best actor bid for star Daniel Kaluuya.
“The thing that warms my heart is through the decades we have seen genres that are not prestigious get a chance to coexist with the prestigious ones. You saw it happen to comedy, you saw it happen to film noir, you saw it happen with musicals. Fantasy like The Lord of the Rings got its place,” del Toro said. “I believe this is a great year to have Get Out and The Shape of Water in the conversation.”
He added with a laugh: “It may be the end of ‘genre-ism.’ It may be the year genre comes of age.”
Del Toro, who has a long history as a fan of horror and fantasy, describes The Shape of Water as a “fairy tale,” albeit one with science-fiction, horror, and noir elements.
The filmmaker last had a major awards contender with 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth. “The beauty is this is happening again without me having to do The Life of Louis Pasteur or anything remotely away from what I do,” del Toro says.