WEEKEND WEB: Proof that love comes in many forms

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GAVIN MILLER reviews Oscar-nominated The Shape of Water

It’s going to be a close race for that Best Film gong at the Oscars – with the 13-time nominated The Shape of Water neck-and-neck with Three Billboards.

And deservedly so, as they’re both fantastic films in their own right – definitely the best two films of the year so far – with very little to choose between them.

Visionary filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) should definitely pick up the Best Director award – with his sublime fingerprints all over this lusciously-rendered world – with this romantic fantasy adventure that conjures up something that little bit different.

And when Del Toro’s involved, you’re guaranteed two things: that it will look amazing, and will have ingenuity in waves. And this undoubtedly has both.

At a top-secret Cold War era-set (circa 1963) research facility, lonely mute janitor Elisa (Oscar-nominated for Best Actress Sally Hawkins) forms a unique relationship with an other-worldly – but deemed to be a species from the Amazon by powers-that-be – amphibious creature (played by Doug Jones, who has previous in a similar role with Del Toro’s Hellboy) that is being held in captivity.

Her only friends in the world are down-on-his-luck artist Giles (Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins), and work colleague, and fellow janitor Zelda (Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer), until her daily routine of ‘pleasuring’ herself and taking hard-boiled eggs for lunch is upended when she forms a bond with this slimy being through sign-language and music.

But behind the scenes there are things afoot that are above her pay grade, with security head Richard Strickland (Man of Steel’s Michael Shannon) looking to dispose of the creature, with the Soviet Union looking to steal the amphibian for research via Michael Stuhlbarg’s (Boardwalk Empire) agent serenading as an American doctor.

And what transpires is a sensationally-acted and beautifully-crafted tale of love, loneliness and a time when the world was political correctness gone wrong – headlined by Hawkins’ (Paddington) tremendous rounded performance.

The sad thing for her is that Frances McDormand’s turn in Three Billboards is probably even better – and she is just about a ‘lock’ for Best Actress – and may even pip The Shape of Water to Best Picture too.

That’s because, despite Water’s many noteworthy triumphs, it probably isn’t quite as accessible to the casual cinema-goer as Billboards, by being a bit ‘odd’. That’s the only minus point to the movie. Some people may not get it.

But for those of us who do, it’s easy to swim in Del Toro’s gloriously-devised cinematic ocean.

Rating: 4/5 Gavin Miller



Steven Spielberg directs the acting dream team of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in this biographical 70s-set political thriller that has garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

It chronicles the cover up that spanned four US Presidents, and pushed the country’s first female publisher (Streep) of The Washington Post and its hard-driving editor (Hanks), to battle the government in publishing the infamous Pentagon Papers.


Suicide Squad’s Margot Robbie stars as legendary ice skater Tonya Harding – who famously had her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked – and has garnered an Oscar nomination to boot. But it’s actually Alison Janney, who portrays her hardline mother, who is a bigger favourite in the Best Supporting Actress category, while Sebastian ‘Winter Soldier’ Stan stars as Harding’s abusive husband in this biopic.


On the eve of retirement, judgemental middle class snob ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott (Imelda Staunton) discovers her husband of 40 years has been having an affair with her best friend. She then seeks refuge with her bohemian sister (Celia Imrie) – who lives in an impoverished inner-city council estate – in an attempt to piece her life back together. Timothy Spall and Joanna Lumley co-star in this comedy-drama.