Shape of Water, a romance between a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) and a humanoid fish creature (Doug Jones), has won del Toro yet another award, as he was recognised for his Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film at last night’s Directors Guild Awards.
Every director who has won this award in the past 14 years has gone on to win the corresponding award at the Oscars, save Ben Affleck in 2012. Del Toro has been nominated three times this year, for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, and has already won at the Golden Globes and Producers Guild Awards.
“We are living in a time that is tremendously difficult, and sometimes the best way to [celebrate]inclusion, and welcoming others rather than fearing them is with a fable,” del Toro said of his film. “Inclusion is necessary if not for any other reason than for the fact that we are not hearing all of the stories that need to be heard.”
Also nominated for Feature Film were Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), and, unlike at the Oscars, both Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) were nominated for their directorial work, becoming the ninth female and fourth black director respectively to be nominated by the guild.
Peele, also the first in history to be nominated in both the feature-director and first-time-director categories, went on to win in the latter.
He said: “Directing Get Out was one of the greatest privileges, experiences, and responsibilities of my life. It was based on the notion that a cry for justice can come in many forms. . . I think the fact that this cry for justice has been heard is very much a step in the right direction.”
In TV, Reed Morano won for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale, Bethany McCarthy-Miller for hers on Veep, and Jean-Marc Valée for Big Little Lies. Niki Caro also joined the host of victorious female directors at the ceremony for her work on the children’s program, Anne with an E.
The Guild’s President, Thomas Schlamme, spoke in his opening monologue of the guild’s: “commitment in the drive to more respectful and inclusive workplaces, which includes a world where our members and others can show up for work without any fear of sexual harassment.”
He also pointed out that “only 5 percent of movies were directed by women in the last 10 years.”
“Isn’t that the worst, most embarrassing statistic?” Schlamme continued. “When women direct movies you get Lady Bird, Mudbound, and Wonder Woman. When you have male directors you get The Emoji Movie.”
Watch the trailer for Shape of Water, released in UK cinemas 16th February, below: