The Shape of Water

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm

A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol, smoking
Violence/ Scariness: Intense and graphic violence, peril, torture, murder
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: December 9, 2017
Date Released to DVD: March 12, 2018
Copyright 2017 Fox Searchlight

There is some reassuring symmetry in the cinematic bookends that gave us “Beauty and the Beast” in January (the highest-grossing film of the year), a “Beauty is the beast” film with the mid-year’s “Colossal,” and now, in December, another variation with Guillermo del Toro’s enthralling R-rated fairy tale, “The Shape of Water,” which was awarded the 2018 Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.

Sally Hawkins is luminous as Elisa Esposito, a custodian in a secret government lab during the cold war era. Her closest friends are her chatty, unhappily married colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), an anxious, cat-loving, old-movie-watching, out-of-work illustrator. They are the only two people who can communicate with Elisa. She can hear but is mute due to a childhood injury, and uses via American Sign Language.

The film is as gorgeous as any enchanted tale could wish, with a green-blue color palette that evokes the sea and old-school, analog equipment in cavernous rooms and huge, clanking equipment harking back to early horror classics like “Frankenstein” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (the later of which del Toro acknowledges as inspiration), with a nod to princess in the castle stories as well.

Elisa discovers one of the lab’s biggest secrets. Strickland (Michael Shannon) a harsh, brutal, “collector,” has captured and brought back to the lab a creature he discovered in the Amazon, a gilled, scaley human-shaped reptilian (played by del Toro regular Doug Jones) who has two separate breathing systems, one for air, one for water. He has some other unusual qualities, which Strickland is not learning much about because he mostly zaps the creature with a cattle prod to “tame” him. Elisa shares her hard-boiled eggs with the creature, and then some music, and then some words, as he begins to learn her language. As we will see, there are parallels between them that make them seem almost like star-crossed lovers kept apart only because they are of different species. Elisa is an orphan who was found not on a doorstep but in the water. The scars on her throat from the abuse that cost her her voice look like gills. Most important, she believes the creature is the only one who sees her as whole, complete, not missing anything.

There is a scientist at the lab named Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), who has a secret of his own. There are other people who want to steal the creature and people who just want to kill him because it is more important to keep him away from the enemy than to learn more about who he is and what he can tell us about who we are. Of course, the way we treat him tells us a lot about who we are.

The story capaciously encompases a fairy tale romance with spies, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, a heist, and a musical number without, well, losing a step, thanks to del Toro’s ability to create cinematic magic. Hawkins is, as she was in “Maudie” earlier this year, exquisitely able to create a character of fierce intelligence and the kind of gentleness that is grounded in moral courage. Instead of subtitles in white at the bottom of the screen, her words are depicted in yellow letters floating around her, her face communicating as clearly as her hands. The movie is bracketed with images of Elisa floating. By the end, the audience will feel we are floating as well.

Parents should know that this movie includes some elements of horror with graphic and disturbing images, peril, and violence, including torture, sexual references and situations, strong language, smoking and drinking.

Family discussion: How are Elisa and the creature alike? How are Hoffstetler and Strickland different? Why does Giles change his mind?

If you like this, try: “Colossal” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”

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Disabilities and Different Abilities Drama DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Fantasy Horror movie review Movies Reviews Romance Spies

WAFCA Nominations 2017

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 4:14 am

The Washington Area Film Critics have announced their nominees for 2017

 

Best Film:
Call Me by Your Name
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director:
Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Dee Rees (Mudbound)

Best Actor:
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Best Actress:
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Meryl Streep (The Post)

Best Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name)
Jason Mitchell (Mudbound)
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me by Your Name)

Best Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip)
Holly Hunter (The Big Sick)
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Best Acting Ensemble:
Dunkirk
It
Mudbound
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Youth Performance:
Dafne Keen (Logan)
Sophia Lillis (It)
Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project)
Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck)
Jacob Tremblay (Wonder)

Best Voice Performance:
Will Arnett (The LEGO Batman Movie)
Gael García Bernal (Coco)
Michael Cera (The LEGO Batman Movie)
Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Anthony Gonzalez (Coco)

Best Motion Capture Performance:
Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes)
Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast)
Steve Zahn (War for the Planet of the Apes)
Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok)

Best Original Screenplay:
Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Hampton Fancher & Michael Green, Story by Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner 2049)
James Ivory (Call Me by Your Name)
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (The Disaster Artist)
Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game)
Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (Mudbound)

Best Animated Feature:
The Breadwinner
Coco
Despicable Me 3
The LEGO Batman Movie
Loving Vincent

Best Documentary:
City of Ghosts
Faces Places
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Jane
Step

Best Foreign Language Film:
BPM (Beats Per Minute)
First They Killed My Father
In the Fade
The Square
Thelma

Best Production Design:
Production Designer: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decorator: Katie Spencer (Beauty and the Beast)
Production Designer: Dennis Gassner; Set Decorator: Alessandra Querzola (Blade Runner 2049)
Production Designer: Nathan Crowley; Supervising Set Decorator: Gary Fettis (Dunkirk)
Production Designer: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decorators: Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin (The Shape of Water)
Production Designer: Aline Bonetto; Set Decorator: Anna Lynch-Robinson (Wonder Woman)

Best Cinematography:
Roger A. Deakins, ASC, BSC (Blade Runner 2049)
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me by Your Name)
Hoyte Van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC (Dunkirk)
Rachel Morrison, ASC (Mudbound)
Dan Laustsen, ASC, DFF (The Shape of Water)

Best Editing:
Paul Machliss, ACE; Jonathan Amos, ACE (Baby Driver)
Joe Walker, ACE (Blade Runner 2049)
Lee Smith, ACE (Dunkirk)
Gregory Plotkin (Get Out)
Sidney Wolinsky, ACE (The Shape of Water)

Best Original Score:
Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner 2049)
Michael Giacchino (Coco)
Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk)
Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water)
Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC:
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Last Flag Flying
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Post

 

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Awards Critics

Critics Choice Awards Nominations for 2017 from the BFCA

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I am very proud to be a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which today announced our nominees for the Critics Choice Awards. I’ll be there on January 11 when we announce them — please be sure to watch the show on the CW!

FILM NOMINATIONS FOR THE 23rd ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

BEST PICTURE

The Big Sick

Call Me by Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Florida Project

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Copyright 2017 Fox Searchlight

BEST ACTOR

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name

James Franco – The Disaster Artist

Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger

Tom Hanks – The Post

Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out

Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Copyright 2017 Focus

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie – I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

Meryl Streep – The Post

Copyright 2017 A24

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project

Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name

Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Patrick Stewart – Logan

Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me by Your Name

Copyright Fox Searchlight 2017

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound

Hong Chau – Downsizing

Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip

Holly Hunter – The Big Sick

Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Mckenna Grace – Gifted

Dafne Keen – Logan

Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project

Millicent Simmonds – Wonderstruck

Jacob Tremblay – Wonder

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

Dunkirk

Lady Bird

Mudbound

The Post

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST DIRECTOR

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird

Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk

Luca Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name

Jordan Peele – Get Out

Steven Spielberg – The Post

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer – The Post

Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Jordan Peele – Get Out

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

James Ivory – Call Me by Your Name

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist

Dee Rees and Virgil Williams – Mudbound

Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game

Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad, Stephen Chbosky – Wonder

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049

Hoyte van Hoytema – Dunkirk

Dan Laustsen – The Shape of Water

Rachel Morrison – Mudbound

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom – Call Me By Your Name

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin – The Shape of Water

Jim Clay, Rebecca Alleway – Murder on the Orient Express

Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis – Dunkirk

Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola – Blade Runner 2049

Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer – Beauty and the Beast

Mark Tildesley, Véronique Melery – Phantom Thread

BEST EDITING

Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar – The Post

Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos – Baby Driver

Lee Smith – Dunkirk

Joe Walker – Blade Runner 2049

Sidney Wolinsky – The Shape of Water

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Renée April – Blade Runner 2049

Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread

Jacqueline Durran – Beauty and the Beast

Lindy Hemming – Wonder Woman

Luis Sequeira – The Shape of Water

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Wonder

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Thor: Ragnarok

War for the Planet of the Apes

Wonder Woman

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Breadwinner

Coco

Despicable Me 3

The LEGO Batman Movie

Loving Vincent

BEST ACTION MOVIE

Baby Driver

Logan

Thor: Ragnarok

War for the Planet of the Apes

Wonder Woman

BEST COMEDY

The Big Sick

The Disaster Artist

Girls Trip

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes

James Franco – The Disaster Artist

Chris Hemsworth – Thor: Ragnarok

Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick

Adam Sandler – The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip

Zoe Kazan – The Big Sick

Margot Robbie – I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

Emma Stone – Battle of the Sexes

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE

Blade Runner 2049

Get Out

It

The Shape of Water

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

A Fantastic Woman

First They Killed My Father

In the Fade

The Square

Thelma

BEST SONG

Evermore – Beauty and the Beast

Mystery of Love – Call Me By Your Name

Remember Me – Coco

Stand Up for Something – Marshall

This Is Me – The Greatest Showman

BEST SCORE

Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water

Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread

Dario Marianelli – Darkest Hour

Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer – Blade Runner 2049

John Williams – The Post

Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk

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Awards Critics

Alice Faye Sings “You’ll Never Know”

Posted on December 2, 2017 at 6:33 pm

What a treat to see a tribute to Alice Faye’s classic “You’ll Never Know” in Guillermo del Toro’s new film, “The Shape of Water.”

The song was introduced by Faye in “Hello, Frisco, Hello.” The lyrics were based on a poem by a WWII war bride. It not only won the Oscar for best song and became a hit — it was such a hit that Faye sang it again a year later in another movie, “Four Jills in a Jeep.” It is now a standard, covered by Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and many others, including Barbra Streisand, who chose it as her first-ever recorded song, made at a do-it-yourself booth when she was 13 as a gift for her mother.

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