The Shape of Water wins Best Picture award at the Venice Film Festival

Guillermo del Toro’s new film ‘The Shape of Water’ is already tipped to be a major contender at the 2018 awards shows – and now, it’s picked up its first high-profile accolade.

The Venice Film Festival has awarded the Golden Lion, given annually to the best picture shown at the event, to del Toro’s acclaimed fantasy drama, starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Doug Jones.

Previous Golden Lion winners have included Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Lust, Caution,’ and Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ – and the accolade marks del Toro’s first major festival win since ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ received the Jury Prize at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

Variety reports that a “visibly moved” del Toro accepted the award, declaring, “I believe in life, I believe in love and I believe in cinema.”

The director – who also co-wrote the film with Vanessa Taylor, and gave up his salary to help get it financed – has spoken widely about his hope that ‘The Shape of Water’s positive message can make a difference in these troubled times.

Del Toro recently described the film – in which a mute janitor (Hawkins) forms a bond with a mysterious humanoid amphibian (Jones) held in the science lab where she works – as “an antidote to the times we’re living in. Everything is so sordid and horrible right now, but this movie is not shy about talking about love and beauty and the good things in life.”

Hopes are high that ‘The Shape of Water’ will be a major contender at the Oscars, the Golden Globes et al in the new year – and, as such, del Toro has delayed the start of production on his next feature, a remake of ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ in order to concentrate on his awards campaign.

‘The Shape of Water’ (currently sitting on a coveted 100% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes) has its UK premiere at the London Film Festival on 10 October, then goes on wide release in the UK from 16 February 2018.

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