Last night, for the first time in the Academy Awards 90-year history*, a creature feature won Best Picture. Now we know that all the normal critics keep trying to rename and redefine what it is, but us monster kids know that it is a monster movie. Sure, it’s not the first horror movie to win, which would be Silence of the Lambs, but that movie featured human monsters. Yes, there is a monster in The Shape of Water, but he’s the one wearing the tailored suit, not the fish suit. Never in a million years would I ever think that a film like this could even have a chance to win Best Picture. And the creator of this “fairy tale for trouble times”, Guillermo del Toro, also took home the Oscar for Best Director. I am speechless.
So why is this a big deal? Because it shows that after decade after decade of monster movies getting left behind, only to maybe get a little nod in the makeup or visual effects department, they now at least have their foot in the door and have that chance. Guillermo del Toro has opened that door for us. Because of him, we can no longer say “Creature features and monster movies never win”. For that, every monster kid and horror fan out there should be forever thankful. This is a guy that I could pretty much guarantee will never shy away from the horror genre to make “real films”. He is someone that is more than proud to be part of and is a huge fan of the genre. I mean, the guy bought a separate house to put his collection in to help inspire him and others that go there.
Yes, we could still argue that Doug Jones should have been nominated in an acting category for his role as “Amphibian Man” or that it should have gotten a nod in the Best Makeup category. But that is a fight for another day. And trust me, it will be.
Del Toro showed audiences something that we already knew. That you could have a film filled with monsters (both human and non-human), that could terrify you, creep you out, as well as enlighten you, make you think and feel, just like one of hundreds of other drama flicks that usually take home the gold. He showed us style and talent and beauty, all wrapped in a bizarre love story. He showed us that we can learn from these monsters. As he stated in his acceptance speech for the Golden Globe award for Best Director, “Since childhood, I’ve been faithful to monsters. I have been saved and absolved by them. Because monsters, I believe, are patron saints of our blissful imperfection.” I really think that explains it all. And maybe, just maybe, others in Hollywood … the ones writing the checks …. will now maybe take a chance on someone coming to their door with a crazy notion for a movie.
In fact, if I was one of those guys from Universal, I’d be banging on Bleak House’s front door, waving a blank check for del Toro and his Lovecraft epic. But that’s just me. Or even better, how about letting him do his version of Frankenstein?
And Doug Jones posted this photo earlier on Twitter and it made me laugh out loud. So I thought I’d post it here as well, because I think it is just awesome.
*Disclaimer: Yes, I am not counting Lord of the Rings: Return of the King because even though it does have monsters an creatures in it, I wouldn’t consider them main characters, as in Shape. Plus, that takes place in a fantasy world. Right or wrong, this is my opinion.