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Oscars 2018: The Shape of Water named best film

The Shape of Water

Story by Rob Carnevale

GUILLERMO Del Toro’s fantasy romance The Shape of Water has surprised many by being named Best Picture at this year’s Oscars.

The film, starring British actress Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaner who falls in love with a captured sea creature, also picked up the director prize for filmmaker del Toro, who told the audience upon winning the night’s main prize: “A few weeks ago, Steven Spielberg said, ‘If you find yourself on the podium, remember that you are part of a world of filmmakers, and be proud of it’. I want to dedicate this to every young filmmaker that is showing us how things are done, really they are. In every country in the world.”

He continued: “When I was a kid enamoured with movies, growing up in Mexico, I thought this could never happen… it happens. Everyone that is using the genre of fantasy to tell the story about things that are happening in the world today, you can do it. This is a door, kick it open and come in.”

Speaking after lifting the best director statuette, del Toro also said: “I am an immigrant, like many of you… and I think the greatest thing our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand, we should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper.”

Heading into the ceremony, it had been widely expected that revenge drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri would land the top prize, particularly in the wake of its BAFTA success.

But while Martin McDonagh’s film missed out in that category, two of its stars – Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell – did pick up acting awards, for best actress and best supporting actor respectively.

Upon picking up her prize, McDormand – who has basically cleaned up at every ceremony she has been nominated in – thanked McDonagh for his achievements, joking: “We are a bunch of hooligans and anarchists but we do clean up nice.”

She continued: “If I may be so honoured to have all the female nominees stand with me in this room tonight. The film makers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the songwriters, the designers…”

She then paused as many of them got to their feet, before adding: “Look around, because we all have stories to tel. I have two words to leave with you tonight: Inclusion rider.”

Rockwell, meanwhile, generated many laughs when thanking “everybody involved in Three Billboards and everyone who’s ever looked at a billboard”, before paying an emotional tribute to his friend, the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

This year’s ceremony – the 90th – was notable for arriving in the wake of the Me Too movement sweeping Hollywood and for a new drive to honour diversity and inclusion. And so it proved that The Shape of Water‘s win for its Mexican filmmaker capped a memorable night for film’s from a wide spectrum of filmmaking talent.

In addition to del Toro’s win in two big categories, Jordan Peele was recognised for his horror film, Get Out, by being named the winner of the Oscar for best original screenplay, while Disney-Pixar’s Coco – which celebrates Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival – was named best animated film, as well as picking up the award for best original song (Remember Me).

Another of the night’s big winners was British star Gary Oldman, who took home the best actor prize for his performance as Sir Winston Churchill in World War II drama Darkest Hour.

The actor, who has never won the trophy before despite coming close for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, said: “My deepest thanks to the academy for this glorious prize. The movies – such is their power – captivated a young man from South London and gave him a dream.

“I’d like to salute Winston Churchill who has been marvellous company on what has been an incredible journey.”

Oldman also thanked his mother, who is “99 years young next birthday”, and who is “watching from the comfort of her sofa”.

“Put the kettle on – I’m bringing Oscar home,” he added, to rapturous applause.

The best supporting actress prize went to Allison Janney for her portrayal of an abusive mother in ice skating drama I, Tonya. As part of her acceptance speech, the former West Wing luminary said: “Thank you to the Academy, my fellow nominees, you represent everything that is good and human about this industry.”

There was widespread approval for veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins, who finally picked up the Oscar for best cinematography for his work on Blade Runner 2049.

Other British winners included former Hollyoaks actors Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton, who won best live action short film for The Silent Child, starring six-year-old Maisie Sly from Swindon.

Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman was named best foreign language film.

The night was hosted for the second time by Jimmy Kimmel, who wasted no time in alluding to last year’s Best Picture fiasco, when the wrong name was read out ahead of Moonlight taking the top prize.

He joked: “This year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away. What happened last year was unfortunate… a week before the show last year the producers asked if I wanted to do some comedy with the accountants. I said no. So, the accountants went ahead and did comedy on their own. And I have to hand it to them, it was hilarious.”

He also alluded to Harvey Weinstein, the producer who has been expelled from the Academy after a string of sexual harassment allegations, saying: “We can’t let bad behaviour slide anymore. the world is watching us, we need to set an example.”

The winners list in full