Saturday, 16 June 2018

'Hereditary' Review

After the death of her secretive and difficult mother, Annie (Toni Collette) and her family start to experience some changes in their lives. As more is found out about the families past, the trauma intensifies as the family look to escape the terror they are destined for. 

Recent horror films have taken different approaches to freshen the genre up, through new ideas or building on those previous tropes. 'Hereditary' looks to build on this, with clear inspiration from past films being handled in a mature, clever and fresh way. 'Hereditary' combines art and horror exceptionally as its shocks are truly shocking whilst maintaining its aesthetic appeal.

Horror is most effective when there is a sense of realism behind it which reflects the real world in disturbing ways. With 'Hereditary', what seems like a 'demon' or possession movie has deep laying themes of mental illness, stress, family and coping with loss which is showcased in deeply harrowing ways. Like other A24 films, it is fairly unconventional with metaphors and ambiguity being used heavily throughout the film which may take time for viewers to absorb and fully appreciate. The jumpscares are kept to a minimum but are used effectively with chilling build ups and brilliant use of tension. There are no cheap tactics with 'Hereditary' as its story, performances and atmosphere do more than enough to keep you on edge. This is best summed up by how a simple click of the tongue can continuously make your skin crawl.

From the very start, it feels as if something is off and you are immediately drawn into the film. First-time director Ari Aster does a masterful job in creating this constant feeling of unease, with his slow pans and long takes early on establishing this feeling before escalating further on in the film. Less is more and Aster displays this as he hides actions and figures in the darkness with subtle movements giving away that something creepy is around the corner. Aster uses every inch of the screen which no doubt will benefit the film on rewatches as viewers will pick up on creepy and disturbing moments that they may have missed the first time around.

Toni Collette is undoubtedly the star of the film as her characters emotional turmoil allows the Australian actress to showcase her abilities. Whether it's bickering with her son or screaming the house down in terror, Collette is wonderful and never silly, creating a true feeling of dread and fear for what is happening. She is supported tremendously by Gabriel Byrne, a great contrast to Collette's character as he is the calm head who looks to keep everything together. Both Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro leave a lasting impression with impressive performances in such intense roles, with their youth and innocence adding to the trauma.

'Hereditary' is an incredibly clever horror film that trusts its story to carry through its horrifying messages. It never engages in lazy tactics and respects its audience and it pays dividends. This is not only the best horror films of the year but one of the best films in general of the year. This remarkable debut is truly special and is a genuinely terrifying art piece. 'Hereditary' is exactly the kind of horror film we should expect and hail with plaudits due to its boldness, creativity, intensity and the sheer terror it creates. Genuinely horrific and unpredictable, 'Hereditary' is undoubtedly the best horror film of the year.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, 9 June 2018

'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Review

Years after the disaster at Jurassic World, a rescue mission is set to retrieve the dinosaurs from Isla Nublar where a volcano threatens all living species. This mission soon turns for the worst with the dinosaurs being auctioned off to the highest bidder as weapons. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) must stop these creatures being sold off for the world's sake.

'Fallen Kingdom' starts off with a horror-esque, dark and creepy sequence with director J.A. Bayona showcasing his talents yet again using larger than life creatures. This suspenseful scene joins the original 'Jurassic Park' as one of the best starts in the franchise's history and offers hope for the remainder of the film. Unfortunately, there is little of this creativity and originality to be found in the rest of the film.

The latest installment of the 'Jurassic' series may as well be titled 'Greatest Hits' as the film is filled with moments found in previous films with little more to them. Audiences will feel the nostalgia being forced upon them as the film tries to re-create classic scenes and moments with updated CGI and technology. The problem is that the film doesn't have the magic and engagement of the audience to get the maximum effect from these scenes. Due to this, it just seems like a cheap imitation more often than not. Unfortunately, there isn't much to rave about in terms of new additions to the series, with a potentially interesting look at John Hammond's relation with previous partners being squandered for more explosions and dinosaur attacks. The 'Jurassic' series now has very little meaning to it, other than dinosaurs being a metaphor for nuclear weapons, with the action spectacle being the main feature. 

The biggest strength of the film comes from its casting, with Chris Pratt's unquestionable charm and charisma making the film a lot more enjoyable. His pairing with Bryce Dallas Howard works tremendously yet again, giving the audience a genuinely likable pairing to root for. Rafe Spall and Toby Jones provide good support in villain roles with greedy motives and although not given much to work with, leave a lasting impression on the film. With better material, this cast could do wonders with a wide range of quality actors featuring but we just have to settle with them making the film watchable. 

'Jurassic' is undoubtedly now just another franchise that offers very little to be excited by. We can expect sequels to come out every other year but they won't be much different to each other or worth the time. It's a shame to see this series go further and further away from what made it so great in the first place. 'Jurassic' is now just another 'Transformers' or any other franchise that is just being milked for money which audiences will eat up undoubtedly. As far as generic blockbusters go, 'Fallen Kingdom' ticks all the boxes and although it's watchable, it offers a very limited experience in terms of shocks, thrills and excitement. 

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Friday, 27 April 2018

'Avengers: Infinity War' Review

The evil Thanos (Josh Brolin) is on a path to bring destruction to the world by collecting the 6 Infinity stones. With these gems, he can wipe out half of the entire universe at the click of his fingers. Earth's mightiest heroes and many more will need to come together to save the entire world from Thanos' sick plans.

10 years and 19 films later, Marvel have continuously been raising the bar and pushing the boundaries for how franchises and cinematic universes. This culminates with Infinity War, the biggest Marvel film to date which features characters from nearly every single film within the franchise. Featuring basically every hero shown on the big screen to date, this could very easily have been a completely bloated, incoherent mess. Thankfully, it's another hit from Marvel. 

The pacing of the film is relentless - for better or worse at times - as each minute is used to further the many storylines and character set pieces as possible. Due to the focus on many different characters who are separated, the different stories come fast and furious at you with little time to catch your breath. This harms the films more emotional moments or reunions as something potentially powerful may be on the cusp of happening but is rushed and transitions into the next scene. In a film with fewer characters and stories being told, these could really have been capitalised on. Instead, they are mainly replaced for more spectacular moments. However, when the film reaches these moments, they knock them out of the park. There may not be as epic or memorable a shot or scene as in previous Avengers films or Civil War, but there are many great moments to satisfy the audience. The 2 and a half hour runtime completely fly by as there is plenty of action, great characters, humour and serious moments to satisfy. As far as big budget popcorn blockbusters go, it doesn't get much better than this. 

With an abundance of stars and characters, some do get lost in the shuffle throughout the film which may leave some fans dissatisfied. With this comes a few surprises, including a standout performance by Zoe Saldana as Gamora. Saldana is very key in the story and provides a powerful, emotional performance which is up there with the best of the franchise. Each character does have a moment to provide some fan fair, with Robert Downey Jr excelling yet again in his beloved Iron Man role. Marvel continues to do right with their villains - one of the biggest criticisms they've faced over their 10 years - as Josh Brolin's Thanos poses a great threat to our heroes. Brolin is excellent and menacing throughout the whole film, with clear established goals and reasons that make him one of the best Marvel villains to date on the big screen. Thanos brings a whole new level of stakes to the film which is showcased immediately in the film. From the start, you know exactly how big a threat he is and how Marvel isn't messing about this time around. Like never before, there are real risks to these superbeings and they are believable - until perhaps the next film - but this brings a lot of weight to the story and actions regardless. 

Epic is the only word that can really be used to describe this complete spectacle. Alongside the huge action set pieces, Alan Silvestri's score does an incredible job at maintaining the epicness of the film. From a score standpoint, Silvestri's is by far the best the MCU has ever had. A mix of past themes and new music combine tremendously well, leaving a lasting impression and one that will induce goosebumps. From triumphant action scenes and character introductions/returns to the more emotional scenes, Silvestri's score captures the feeling excellently, maintaining a high level of consistency throughout the film. 

Over the years, Marvel have been criticised for playing it safe and not taking a lot of risks. This is absolutely not the case with Infinity War which is best shown with its ending. The finale of the film is really unexpected and is something Marvel deserve high praise for as they look to expand on the superhero movie in any way they can. Not only is it bold but it is incredibly effective, leaving a satisfied feeling but one that you can't quite believe at the same time. 

Another hit for Marvel in what will surely be the highest grossing film of 2018, this is entertainment in its finest form. Fun with great action but some decent moments of seriousness sprinkled throughout, Infinity War is a fan's dream and will have you eagarly anticipating its follow up immediately after the film.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, 16 March 2018

'Annihilation' Review

As Lena (Natalie Portman) mourns her husband, he mysteriously returns home but seems off and is violently ill. The two are taking to a mysterious facility where they learn about an area that is very different to our world, one that doesn't obey the current laws of nature. Lena and a group of scientists will set off to explore this new world and just what has caused it.

2015's Ex_Machina saw Alex Garland burst onto the scene in tremendous fashion. His slow burn sci-fi/thriller was a huge success and made Garland one to keep an eye on for the future. His latest film is finally here but seems to have been overshadowed by the decision on how it should be released rather than Garland's talents. Thankfully, Annihilation delivers and is yet another success from the English director.

Following in the footsteps of his previous venture, Annihilation is yet another slow burn packed with mystery and intrigue. Based on Jeff Van Der Meer's novel, Annihilation is one of the most intelligent films of the year and one that requires full attention and one that you will be constantly thinking about once it's finished. This is a great difference in sci-fi compared to most other sci-fi stories we've received in recent years and is one that shouldn't be slept on.

Annihilation really takes its time with its story, offering bits of information at a time but never allows the viewer to know exactly what is going on make what will happen next predictable. The early return of Oscar Isaac's character provides huge mystery from the start of the film which only continues throughout the rest of the runtime. Onwards we experience unique creatures, plant life and alien lifeforms whilst also taking time to tackle some deep human issues. This also brings a fair amount of darker moments, both from humans and a terrifying hybrid bear. Combined with the beautiful unique colours and visuals, there is never a dull or wasted moment on screen.

Natalie Portman leads a majority female-led cast for the most part of the film which provides solid performances all around. The film doesn't dive too deep into the lives of the characters but provides the exposition surrounding each of them which fits them perfectly into the story. Naturally, Portman is given the most attention as the star but her co-stars are equally as interesting and make sure this ensemble cast is not wasted. Portman is fantastic in her role but Tessa Thompson is perhaps the standout. Thompson continues to show her abilities as an actress and after coming off franchises like Creed and Thor, she makes her presence known in a much quieter but still fantastic way.

The last thirty minutes is where the film makes or breaks it for many people. The ending is indeed strange and requires your full attention, if your focus drifts away then you could be feeling slightly puzzled. Unlike Ex_Machina, I don't feel like the finale is entirely satisfying compared to the brilliant slow burn tempo. However, it certainly does not ruin anything, it simply just doesn't tie the film up as nicely as hoped. Perhaps it's a little too weird but it is ambiguous and really makes you think which is the job a film like this should set out to do.

Annihilation is undoubtedly an intelligent film that commands your attention and doesn't look to give you answers easily. It's a unique film that deserves to be seen, whatever way possible. Not quite as great as Garland's previous venture but still a very fine film in its own right.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Oscars Collab Post: Best Actor

The Oscars are taking place tonight and all of the stars are glamouring up to celebrate a great year of film! One of the biggest awards that will take place on the night is the coveted Best Actor award currently held by Casey Affleck. The award has been a mainstay and highlight of the show for years with recent triumphs like Leonardo Di Caprio's eventual win to Tom Hanks historic double win in 1994 and 1995. 

2018 brings another 5 lucky nominees in what is a fairly diverse range of actors with a couple of newcomers appearing amongst some regular faces. In this post, I am going to look at each individual and evaluating their performance, looking at the buzz surrounding them and also how likely they are to win the award. As this is a post that is part of a collaborative effort, I will leave links to other members posts on the different categories of tonight, enjoy!

Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel Esq

Previous nominations: 8x Academy Award nominee and 2x Winner

Now I have to make a confession for this performance... I actually haven't seen it. What on earth happened with the distribution of this film? This only showed in a handful of theatres in Scotland, none really in City Centres meaning I wasn't able to catch this film. To add to that, nobody seems to be talking about this performance in the lead up to the Oscars at all. Due to that alone, I feel we can basically rule Denzel out of having any chance of winning at all. Denzel had a lot better chance last year with Fences but this time around, he's got no chance.

Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread

Previous nominations: 6x nominee and 3x Winner

As expected, Daniel Day-Lewis proved why he is one of the world's best actors with his performance in Phantom Thread. Day-Lewis commits to his role remarkably in what is yet another high point of his career.  His charm and quirks are highly entertaining throughout as his chemistry with co-stars Vicky Krieps and Lesly Manville. Unfortunately, due to some stern competition, he is actually an outsider to win. Day-Lewis, in my opinion, has the second-best performance of the nominees and unfortunately won't be walking away with his fourth Academy Award. 

Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out

Previous nominations: First-time nominee

Kaluuya being nominated came as quite the surprise for me, I hadn't even taken it into consideration that he was a possible candidate. I have come around to an extent on Kaluuya on the second watch of Get Out where I realised Kaluuya genuinely was great. It's a fairly quiet performance but Kaluuya's is excellent reacting to the madness that is surrounding him. I also have a soft spot for this film and performance simply due to the fact that it's incredibly cool that a horror film is getting this attention from the Academy. That alone amazes me but it isn't for me to actively root for Kaluuya and I don't think he'll be walking away with the gold. Nonetheless, it is one hell of a breakout performance.

Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name

Previous nominations - First-time nominee

In an ideal world, by Monday we would all be calling Timothee Chalamet an Academy Award winner. He is the youngest Best Actor nominee in around the last 80 years but his performance is nothing but remarkable. Chalamet is charming and cool but showcases an impressive range that will stick with you for a long time. The ending of Call Me By Your Name is incredibly beautiful and packed with emotion and a lot if it is down to Chalamet. It's heartbreaking to watch him at the end of this film and due to the impact it left on me, I have to support Chalamet this year. Sadly and unjustly, I think he will miss out. 

Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour

Previous nominations: 1x Best Actor Nominee

I'm not going to use this as a chance to rant against Oldman winning the Oscar. He definitely isn't my pick to win but I cannot deny that he was really good in this role. Oldman has completely transformed into Churchill with the help of makeup to the point where he is completely unrecognisable. Oldman's performance is the loudest performance but fantastically well with the dialogue where he gets the chance to rant in parliament. It's not my pick but I think he is a shoe-in to win this award and gain his first Oscar in what has been an incredible career.

Who will win? Gary Oldman

Who should win? Timothee Chalamet

Thank you for checking out my blog post on the Best Actor category! Please make sure to check out the rest of the posts down below and have a great time with the Oscars!

@QF_Reviews video on the Best Picture nominees:
@ThrSilverScreen post on the Original Screenplay nominees:
@ThrSilverScreen post on the Cinematography nominees
 post on the Best Music nominees:
@PlainSimpleTom post on the Best Supporting Actor nominees:
@__Nathan post on Best Animated Feature and Adapted Screenplay nominees:
@madelexne post on the Best Actress categories:

Saturday, 3 March 2018

3rd Annual Oscar Predictions!

The 90th edition of the annual Academy Awards is happening this Sunday and with that, everyone is making their predictions before the big night! It's always a bit of good fun and brings good discussion, whether you agree with the nominees or not. So for the third year running, my friends and I will be making our predictions and who will be the 2018 winner. Returning are Billy, Drew and last years winner Michael, as well as newcomer Conor.

 Like last year, there will be a brief look at some of the major categories with a table down below listing our entire predictions. Unfortunately again, we have not managed to see the documentaries or short films so these will be excluded. Now that's out of the way, lets take a look at some of the predictions. 

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees:

Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project, 
    Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,     
Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water,     
Christopher Plummer - All The Money In The World,    
 Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Pick (Angus): Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell seems to be the frontrunner for this award, beating out co-star Woody Harrelson in what would be a deserving Academy Award win. Although I am not the biggest fan of Three Billboards, I can't deny that Rockwell's performance was one of the best of the year and was helped by strong writing.

Billy's Pick: Sam Rockwell
Sam's character has a really interesting arc in Three Billboards and he approaches it with great care and subtlety, very funny performance.

Conor's Pick: Sam Rockwell
I haven't seen many of the films and Rockwell is simply the favourite to win.

Drew's Pick: Sam Rockwell
Rockwell just stunned me. I had no idea of his acting capabilities beforehand, to be honest.

Michael's Pick: Sam Rockwell
I chose Sam Rockwell because he seems to be the critics favourite at this point and has already won a Golden Globe, BAFTA and a SAG award so I expect him to add this to his trophy case which considering his redeeming character arc in Three Billboards, it is deserving of one.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees:

Mary J Blige - Mudbound
Allison Janney - I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water
Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread

My Pick (Angus): Allison Janney
Janney seems to steal every scene that she appears in giving an incredibly humourous performance amongst the craziness of I, Tonya.

Billy's Pick: Allison Janney
Similar with Rockwell, Allison gives a fiery, punchy performance and while it's an archetype character, she brings it to life.

Conor's Pick: Allison Janney
Same as before, I'm not too familiar but Janney is the favourite.

Drew's Pick: Allison Janney
She provided an interesting "anti" antagonist role into I, Tonya that added depth to Tonya's struggle.

Michael's Pick: Allison Janney
Allison Janney should pick up this award easily as she plays the unlikeable detestable mother to Tonya and both presents a barrier to her social life and tey pushes Tonya's skaing success and drive to win. Mixed with the fact that there's no outstanding candidates to win this award this should seem a certainty.

Best Director

The nominees:

Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
Jordan Peele - Get Out
Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread
Guillermo Del Toro - The Shape of Water

My Pick (Angus): Guillermo Del Toro
In an ideal world, Christopher Nolan would be picking up this award for Dunkirk which I believe is the best-directed film up for contention. But I'm going with my head and choosing Del Toro for The Shape of Water who has been doing very well on the awards circuit and who I do believe is the second best director in the category.

Billy's Pick: Guillermo Del Toro
Loved The Shape of Water and each scene really has a dynamic and rich dressing. I think the overall aesthetic and style of the film makes it what it is, it really feels like Del Toro loved crafting it and it is unique to his flavour of film.

Conor's Pick: Guillermo Del Toro
Del Toro expertly crafted his story world in The Shape of Water. The way in which the story is told in addition to the aesthetics of the film were really interesting and enjoyable and I feel he should be recognised for his work.

Drew's Pick: Guillermo Del Toro
Del Toro always spends years developing the world he wants to showcase to the world, within his head and it shows with The Shape of Water. It was close between him and Nolan, but the pure originality of the world crafted helped nudge it on top.

Michael's Pick: Guillermo Del Toro
GDT really creates a magnificent looking world here and places a beautiful love story in the middle of it. This combination along with this world coming directly from GDT crafts my favourite film of the year so far as the passion for this masterpiece is clearly seen and should pick up the award.

Best Actor

The nominees:

Daniel Day Lewis - Phantom Thread
Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out
Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel Esq
Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour

My Pick (Angus): Timothee Chalamet
I'm going to afford myself a gamble and thinking with my heart on this one. Chalamet is by far the best performance and it'll be an atrocity if he misses out. He showcases more range in his role than the rest of the nominees combined in what is a powerful and emotional masterclass. No gimmick is needed, just pure raw emotion.

Billy's Pick: Gary Oldman
I chose Gary Oldman because I feel there is a romanticism with biopic old-timey representation and added with his transformative prosthetic appearance, he'll be a shoe-in.

Conor's Pick: Gary Oldman
Again, I haven't seen them all but Oldman is once again the favourite by popular vote.

Drew's Pick: Gary Oldman
Oldman always seems to provide a strong commitment to his roles, which in this case execute a powerful showcase of Britain's greatest leader in modern times.

Michael's Pick: Gary Oldman
I chose Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill because the academy values a huge commitment in a leading role which is clear here which helps that he portrays such an iconic figure. His performance is also helped by the excellent hair and makeup work on the film to the point that we don't even recognise Gary Oldman.

Best Actress

The nominees:

Meryl Streep - The Post
Margot Robbie - I, Tonya
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saorise Ronan - Lady Bird
Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water

My Pick (Angus): Frances McDormand
It pains me to write this but no matter how much I think Sally Hawkins had the best performance of the year, everything is pointing at a win for McDormand. McDormand does display a strong performance nonetheless but far from the best for me.

Billy's Pick: Frances McDormand
Frances is really great in Three Billboards, she demonstrates a great range and attitude to the unique character.

Conor's Pick: Sally Hawkins
Going with who I know and performance I feel was extremely well executed given that Hawkins had no dialogue.

Drew's Pick: Sally Hawkins
Despite McDormand providing a stellar performance in Three Billboards, I felt like Hawkins provided an experience that I enjoyed more as a viewer, and I somehow connected more with her portrayal of the character.

Michael's Pick: Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand's performance was quite excellent although she wouldn't be my personal pick. Despite this McDormand plays the perfect anti-hero in this, managing to gather sympathy from the audience whilst playing a bitter foul-mouthed violent woman which can be a challenge but is one that she excels in.

Best Picture

The nominees:

The Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My Pick (Angus): The Shape of Water
Overall, when taking everything into consideration, I think The Shape of Water is the best film in contention. When you take everything into consideration, from directing and performances to set design and costume and the beautiful story, TSOW stands out from the rest for me.

Billy's Pick: The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water was right up my alley. I decided to go with this film not because I think it'll win but because it was my favourite film of the bunch.

Conor's Pick: Get Out
From the nominees I have seen, Get Out was my favourite and I feel it has a solid chance to win thanks to its cultural commentary as well as the way in which the film borders between genres being a thriller with a very humorous script to alleviate tension and keep us engaged.

Drew's Pick: The Shape of Water
Similar to the Best Director category, it's yet again between Dunkirk and The Shape of Water and once again I've gone with the latter. Again, the originality not only in the visual storytelling but the screenplay (both developed by Del Toro) helped put it ahead yet again.

Michael's Pick: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
As mentioned with Sam Rockwell this seems to be picking up the majority of the awards which includes the BAFTA for Best Film. Considering this is a well-structured film which mostly is a joy to watch barring the first act of the film and deserves it's nomination although it wouldn't be my pick, I wouldn't be disappointed with this winning.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

'The Shape of Water' Review

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, cleaning lady who develops a close bond with a mysterious sea creature from the waters of South America. The creature is in danger as government officials look to kill him in use of research. With help from others, Elisa looks to break the creature out, allowing him to live freely.

On paper, a romance film with a mute cleaning lady and a humanoid sea creature as the romantic interests may sound too bizarre to be possible to work. It sounds off-putting and downright weird but in Guillermo Del Toro's latest film, The Shape of Water, it absolutely works. In fact, it works so well that it is the Mexican director's best work within his esteemed filmography.

1960's Baltimore provides a perfect setting for this forbidden romance as it takes us back to a time littered with strife over many different issues like segregation and homophobia that are highlighted in the film. Throw in power-hungry government officials and Russian spies amid The Cold War and you have a boiling pot of tension that looks certain to spill over. Each of these parts plays a huge role in building characters and the situations that our innocent protagonists find themselves caught in. Del Toro alongside co-writer Vanessa Taylor has packed a lot of detail into the film's script with each aspect having a point, leaving no loose ends or wasted plot lines.

Del Toro's films have been known for their beauty, both in the story and in production values. From Pan's Labyrinth to Crimson's Peek, Del Toro has shown that he has an incredible eye for detail as each shot he sets up is as meticulous as the rest. From the lighting to set designs, Del Toro makes genuine art with his films as he creates visually stunning set pieces. For this film, the camera is mainly in motion and is rarely stagnant which helps the film feel vibrant and constantly moving forward. Again, this helps in adding as much detail possible to every shot.

The Shape of Water's romance focuses undoubtedly on acceptance and loving others for who they truly are. Neither Sally Hawkins' character Elisa or the sea creature can communicate vocally with others which is the basic building block for this relationship to develop and flourish as the film goes on. This oddball romance undoubtedly is strange - with side characters questioning that - but it is one that is truly beautiful and displays the message of acceptance and embracing those for who they truly are and how they make you feel. It's deeply moving and touching as this pure love is infectious and enviable allowing the audience to become caught up in all of the drama. The film ends perfectly summing up the love from the film and the love we should aspire to receive/give with the poetic lines

"Unable to perceive the shape of you,
I find you all around me.
Your presence fills my eyes with your love,
It humbles my heart,
for you are everywhere".

As Richard Jenkins reads out those final lines and Alexandre Desplat's gorgeous score plays out, you will be sat in an emotional state of happiness whilst in awe of the beauty you just experienced.

Sally Hawkins is the star of the film in what is an Oscar-worthy performance as the mute Elisa Esposito. Despite being unable to vocally express her thoughts and feelings, Hawkins provides a powerful performance, showcasing an impressive range. Unlike many contenders during award season, Hawkins doesn't have to shout or deliver long monologues to leave a lasting and memorable impression. Her expressions and mannerisms perfectly capture how she is feeling, whether positive or negative and she makes the love between her and Doug Jones' creature feel genuine. If Hawkins role isn't believable, the film simply fails. Luckily, this is one of the best performances we've ever seen.

Hawkins is supported by a truly fantastic ensemble diverse cast, with each character having their own individual problems and wants that factor into the main story. Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer play Giles and Zelda, Elisa's closest companions. The two provide an excellent contrast to Hawkins, both being very chatty against Elisa's silence. The characters are incredibly likable and add a perfect amount of humour without overdoing it whilst maintaining the seriousness of the film's situations and settings. In what could've been an incredibly cartoony villain role is the ever-intense Michael Shannon. Shannon borderlines at times on being over the top but it cannot be denied that he is constantly one to be feared throughout the entirety of the film. His unpredictability and short temper create a vast amount of tension and a genuinely frightening villain. Huge credit again must go out to Del Toro's frequent collaborator Doug Jones who plays his non-human role perfectly yet again.

Del Toro has created a genuine masterpiece that is equally narratively and visually stunning. Everything comes together perfectly to create an emotional rollercoaster of a film that will leave you feeling incredibly satisfied by the time the credits roll. Del Toro has crafted something truly special with this film and is one that I will never forget. Emotional and beautiful, The Shape of Water delivers on all levels.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars