This Oscars season, it seemed fairly likely that Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Gary Oldman, and Frances McDormand would nab their respective acting awards — and they all did. What was less clear was which film would end up taking the night's highest honor, Best Picture. But at the end of the night — after nearly four hours of televised awards and performances! — Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, a dark fairy tale about two misunderstood creatures, came out on top.
As soon as he reached the stage, del Toro, who also won Best Director, double-checked the winning envelope to ensure his film's victory (after 2017's notorious mix-up). The look of sheer glee on his face when he confirmed the win was wonderful. And his speech followed the same mood.
"A few weeks ago, Steven Spielberg said, 'If you find yourself there, if you find yourself at the podium, remember that you are part of a legacy, that you're part of a world of filmmakers, and be proud of it,'" del Toro said, also name-dropping Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as an influence on him from a young age. "I'm very, very proud."
Del Toro continued and shared the award with young creatives just beginning to pursue their own ambitions and chase their inspirations: "I want to dedicate this to every young filmmaker, the youth that is showing us how things are done, really they are, in every country in the world."
He finished with a straight-up call to action. "I want to tell you, everyone that is dreaming of a parable of using genre fantasy to tell the stories about the things that are real in the world today, you can do it. This is a door. Kick it and come in."
The Shape of Water was nominated for 13 Oscars and won four tonight, including Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. For Best Picture, it beat out Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk (which sadly means no Oscar celebration for Harry Styles), Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
In a show marked by activist flourishes, moments of both presenters and winners speaking truth to power, and a string of rousing musical performances, its top award going to The Shape of Water — a throwback fable about a mute woman who finds love with an imprisoned aquatic man-like creature — seemed like an easy, tidy way to wrap things up. Only in 2018 would a sentence like that make sense.