Ontario-made Shape of Water shimmers at Academy Awards

Guillermo del Toro's fantasy feature film netted four awards on the night, including best picture and best production design.

Shape of Water

The local Ontario film industry gathered at Toronto’s Palais Royale on Sunday to cheer on Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water in the 90th Academy Awards. And it did not disappoint.

The Ontario-made fantasy feature shone brightest on the night, claiming four awards including best picture and best production design.

All told, the film converted 13 nominations into four wins, also nabbing prizes for best director and best original score.

In the best picture category, Shape of Water fended off competition from Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out, The Post, Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird to claim the night’s final prize. The award was collected by del Toro, his Canadian producing partner Miles J. Dale and other stars, crew and creatives.

Earlier in the night del Toro won the best director prize, besting Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) and Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk) in the category.

The award for best production design was collected by Ontario-based Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau and Paul D. Austerberry, whose acceptance-speech shoutout to Toronto drew a rapturous response at The Shape of Water‘s Oscar party, held for local industry members involved with the project. “Thanks to all the Canadian crew who are partying right now at the Palais Royale in Toronto – this is for you,” said Austerberry while collecting the prize.

Meanwhile, French film composer Alexandre Desplat claimed the prize for best original score for Shape.

The Shape of Water was filmed at Cinespace Film Studios, as well as on location in Toronto and Hamilton, on a budget of approximately USD $19.5 million. The film tells the story of a mute woman cleaning lady at a secret government facility, who falls in love with an amphibian man. The project is distributed by Fox Searchlight and has grossed around USD $110 million globally.

Elsewhere on the night, the Oscar for best visual effects went to Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. Montreal-based Framestore worked on around 300 of the film’s shots, with a team of around 175 artists working on the film for the VFX company. Framestore’s art department also worked on concept work and pre-production for the film, which is also executive produced by Vancouver-based Thunderbird.

“Winning this award is a huge achievement, and for our efforts to be recognized in this way is incredibly rewarding,” the Montreal company said in a statement following the win.

The Breadwinneranother Canadian hopeful nominated in the best animation category, did not win on the night, as Pixar’s Coco claimed the prize.