Smoke Signals

Best Picture And Cutest Couple: Elisa And The Aquaman

Courtesy of IndieWire

Courtesy of IndieWire

Barbara Lopez, Entertainment Editor

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**WARNING: Spoilers ahead**

  From the first frame to the final scene, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is an unexpected whimsical masterpiece full of suspense, stunning visuals and unrequited love.

  The Jalisco native garnered seven Golden Globe nominations and two wins: one for Best Director of a Motion Picture and another for Best Original Score, composed by Alexandre Desplat. The film also had the most Oscar nominations, leading at thirteen. Del Toro took home four Academy Awards including Best Director and the highest praise of all, Best Picture.

  The film’s opening scene displays ethereal, smooth melodies as Desplat (who won an Academy Award for Best Original Score) transforms you from your theater seat to the bleak, quixotic world of The Shape of Water.

  The sci-fi fantasy, based during the Cold War Era, stars British actress Sally Hawkins as Elisa: a mute custodian with a less-than-average life, enduring meek daily routines such as boiling eggs for breakfast, shining her shoes, and conversing with her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) through sign language.

  Elisa’s mundane life changes in an instant when the laboratory she cleans begins housing a special asset: an aquatic creature (Doug Jones) displaying man-like features and shocking communication skills. Upon seeing this mysterious Aquaman for the first time, she makes it her mission to sneak into the lab every single day with boiled eggs and vinyl records in hand.

  Hawkins’ performance–which earned her a Golden Globe nod for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) and an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role–is nothing short of phenomenal as she manages to captivate the audience through mere facial expressions.

  At one point in the film, Elisa desperately attempts to convince Giles of freeing the Aquaman from the laboratory before he gets killed off by the evil Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Giles refuses, giving up hope after facing a long week of rejection from the company he works for.

  As he walks out of his apartment, Elisa follows him down the hallway and signs, “If we do nothing, neither are we.” That single line filled my heart with compassion. At first glance, the plot of this film sounds ridiculous: mute custodian falls for the fish man. If someone came up to me a year ago and said that plot would garner critical and audience acclaim alike, I would laugh in that person’s face. Yet once the love hits, it is much more profound and climactic.

 What is so amazing and special about this film is that it triumphs even when it is not supposed to. Our world is superficial; if you’re not constantly sharing every miniscule detail of your life on a social platform, you’re basically outcasted. Attraction is based on looks, status, and wealth.

  This film completely discourages the idea of physicality: a woman who cannot speak and an aquatic creature fall for each other. And as strange as that sounds, Del Toro seamlessly blends these aspects of passion and idealism–and he makes them work.

  A film that is so anti-Hollywood, a film that goes exactly against societal standards, is exactly what captured the hearts of Hollywood socialites and the public. And I could not be any happier. Not only is Del Toro an amazing director but an amazing storyteller as well.

  My heart beams with love and hope and I cannot wait to buy this DVD [once it goes on sale after two months of its release] so I can rewatch this masterpiece. And the fact that Del Toro comes from Mexico–one of my native countries–makes it even better.

  As he walked up on that stage and accepted the honor of Best Picture, I felt as though I could do the same. Someday.

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Barbara Lopez, Entertainment Editor

Barbara Lopez is a senior at West and is the Entertainment Editor for Smoke Signals. She enjoys film, music, and making new friends.

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Best Picture And Cutest Couple: Elisa And The Aquaman