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Why The Hate On “The Shape Of Water” Is Misplaced

You really considered a film about a guy who makes ugly dresses to win?

When Guillermo Del Toro’s film has been announced as the best picture of 2017, I wasn’t overjoyed. I belonged to the “Dunkirk” team and I feel sorry for Christopher Nolan for not winning in any major categories.

Nonetheless, I found this verdict to be fair. “The Shape Of Water” was one of the best films of 2017. It’s a magical tale, where sex with a fish man is just the tip of its charming weirdness.

As a cultural hater, I understand that some moviegoers wanted other films to win. There were probably even those, who claimed “Phantom Thread” should have won (however I don’t want to know these people).

Out of all of the hatred that was channeled towards Del Toro’s win, I have distinguished several reasons. Let’s consider them.

#1 “The Shape Of Water” is copied from “Splash”

“Splash” was about a mermaid, who rescues a boy from drowning. Years later, she is captured by scientists. One of them became more fascinated in the creature and got emotionally engaged in rescuing her.

This whole theory of Del Toro copying “Splash” was born thanks to this video, originally posted by Screen Junkies on Facebook. The similarities are there without a slightest doubt. It proves that Del Toro has definitely seen “Splash”. He might have even loved it.

Which leads to the conclusion that “The Shape Of Water” was at least partially based on the idea from Ron Howard’s movie. The kiss in the water, the secret lab and even goddamn stairs – it all feels like a rip-off.

But if you think a bit deeper, you might come to a conclusion that many films copy from many films. Countless times did people re-did scenes from Tarkovsky, Polanski, Kubrick or Bergman. Films should be considered as a whole – not as particular scenes. And as a whole, “Splash” and “The Shape Of Water” carry completely different messages. Del Toro offers a film rich in nuances – he plays with a fairy tale set within boundaries of a very real world. It’s a strange love story, and whilst we’ve seen many strange love stories, this one still stands out.

#2 A film where a cat is killed – this is outrageous!

Outrageous is this whole cat fascination nowadays.

This is just a goddamn movie – get over it. Please.

#3 She Had Sex With Him.. It… Whatever, It’s Disgusting

Yes, it is pretty disgusting. But hey, this is Guillermo Del Toro – remember this scene from “Pan’s Labyrinth”? 

#4 This Is A Fairy-Tale – “Three Billboards…” Was At Least Relatable

Well, so were majority of the nominees. It’s not really an argument whether the film is relatable. Many films that has won Oscars were completely bonkers and out of this world. Look at “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Grand Budapest Hotel”.

The truth is, the Academy used to be narrow, but they are changing now – becoming more inclusive. Which is a good thing.

Apart from that, “The Shape Of Water” has won, because it’s a fantastic film from the narrative point of view. It’s engaging, told in a way the kid books are. It’s charming, it’s sometimes scary. There is good and bad, light and darkness. It’s all there!

#5 Where Is The Diversity? “Get Out” Should Have Won!

“Get Out” was a lot of fun. It was smart in dealing with frozen-cold frames of the horror genre. Yet it should have not been nominated for Best Picture. The way this film’s hype carried it among the best was a great marketing campaign.

And this whole argument favoring diversity… should we really look at any awards this way? I like to think that “Moonlight” has won, because it was a sublime, beautiful drama. Not because Barry Jenkins and all of the cast was black.

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