The Shape of Water has won the Oscar for best picture at the 90th Academy Awards, defeating strong competition from Get Out, Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in what had been considered the closest Oscar race in many years.
The award was presented by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who had been involved in last year’s mix-up over La La Land and Moonlight. Acknowledging the fiasco in 2017, Beatty said: “It’s so nice seeing you again”; Dunaway added: “Presenting is lovelier second time around.” On receiving the award, del Toro, said: “I want to dedicate this to the young film-makers; the youth who are showing [us] how things are done.”
The cold war-set fantasy thriller stars Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning woman who discovers a bizarre aquatic-human hybrid in a tank at a secret government lab, and helps it escape. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, it led to the Mexican film-maker’s first nomination for best picture – though Del Toro was also nominated in 2007 for best original screenplay and best foreign language film for Pan’s Labyrinth.
The film’s success has come in spite of it being the subject of a plagiarism controversy in recent weeks. After the nominations were announced, the family of late playwright Paul Zindel launched legal action over “glaring similarities” between The Shape of Water and Zindel’s 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper. The film’s studio, Fox Searchlight, has denied the allegations.