The movie is up for 13 Academy Awards — more than any other film this year.
Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water follows a mute cleaning woman in love with a fish-man. The movie leads the pack of Oscar nominees with a total of 13.
Below are 10 things to know about the movie, including del Toro’s suggestion to the lead designer-sculptor on how to make the humanoid amphibious creature sexy.
Del Toro wanted to make the creature swoon-worthy. The design of the creature actually took two years.
Lead designer/sculptor Mike Hill explained, "Guillermo brought me in and said, 'Give it a soul.'" The director was also "adamant that the creature have a nice butt."
The body and face included a slim waistline, broad shoulders, big, expressive, doe eyes, "kissable" lips, a strong jaw and cleft chin.
During The Hollywood Reporter's Director Roundtable, del Toro spoke about many things that went wrong during filming, including a brush with death.
After actor Michael Shannon parked his car during a take, “It stays in drive, the car continues going, Michael runs to try to stop the car, the car drags Michael in the middle of the rain, Michael lets go, the car hits the first post, destroys it — shower of sparks — goes for the second post, is going straight for videos, everyone says run!" he said. "Now I've never run for anything in my life, I don't know that is, so I was like, 'I'm going to die.'"
The car eventually stopped without destroying the set, but the director said that was just one of the many things that went wrong during filming.
Composer Alexandre Desplat focused on the water theme, including using 12 flutes, rather than the time period of Cold War America.
"I'm a flutist, so I know what they can deliver in terms of texture and sound and blurriness and softness," says the Oscar winner (for 2014's The Grand Budapest Hotel). "There's no trumpet playing or anything banging. It's all very soft, like if you were underwater."
To transform into the creature, Doug Jones was entirely covered in makeup and prosthetics and filmed in a water-filled set. With this, del Toro noted, the most important component in his casting process is the eyes of an actor.
Del Toro was just 6 years old when he saw his first monster movie, 1931's Frankenstein, and felt an overwhelming sense of identification with the damaged creature. Growing up, del Toro struggled with childhood demons and terrifying lucid dreams. For him, he said, "There was no difference between that and reality.” He believed the monster merged with his grandmother's notion of Christ.
Later, Frankenstein and The Creature From the Black Lagoon became inspirations for The Shape of Water.
The Shape of Water production designer Paul Austerberry said aspects of the room were literally influenced by the "shape of water."
“I wanted it to be the wave engulfing, crashing over doorway," he said. "So [anyone] entering this room would be engulfed by water — or the shape of water, anyway," like Elisa's blue interior walls and curved chaise lounge.
Shape of Water producer J. Miles Dale and del Toro wanted to give the actors a degree of freedom, including input on their costumes and conversations about their character’s backgrounds and perspectives.
Shape of Water production designer Paul Austerberry noted the actors knowing “what their character is and what their history is” was beneficial for everyone on set.
Del Toro wanted to relish his first Golden Globes win while onstage.
"Lower the music. It's taken 25 years. Give me a minute. Give me a minute,” The Shape of Water filmmaker demanded after orchestra music began during his acceptance speech.
With a lack of diversity in films with disabled female heroines, Guillermo del Toro propelled disabled narratives with a complex lead that shows people with disabilities as sexual beings.
The Shape of Water marks Jones' sixth appearance in a del Toro film. Most notably, he also portrayed Abe Sapien in the two Hellboy movies and was both the Pale Man and Pan in Pan’s Labyrinth.