'Shape of Water' wins best film as Oscars target social justice

Frances McDormand won for her lead role in 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'
The cast and crew of 'The Shape of Water' attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
By Bloomberg
Mon 05 Mar 2018 09:39 AM

“The Shape of Water,” a film about a mute woman who falls in love with a captive reptilian creature, was crowned the best movie of 2017, a timely win in a year when sexual harassment and women’s pay have taken centre stage in Hollywood.

The Oscar for best picture was handed out Sunday at the 90th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, in a show carried by ABC and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Frances McDormand won for her lead role as a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” while Gary Oldman was voted best actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.”

Guillermo del Toro was named best director for “The Shape of Water.”

This year, Hollywood’s biggest awards show pulled double duty - serving as a forum to tackle sexual harassment, racism and unequal pay in the film industry, and to promote movie-going after US theatre attendance fell to a 25-year-low.

“We all have stories to tell,” McDormand said in her acceptance speech. She used the moment to ask all of the female nominees in every category to stand and uttered two words - “inclusion rider” - as she left the stage, suggesting top actors use their contracts to require diverse and inclusive casts and crew.

No single film dominated the ceremony, which ran a long 3 hours 52 minutes. But the winners reflected the diversity many have called for in Hollywood. “The Shape of Water,” “Three Billboards” and “Lady Bird” all feature women in powerful emotional roles.

Best Director

The best director was a Mexican filmmaker who was previously nominated twice, while the original screenplay award went to the black man who wrote, directed and produced “Get Out.”

“I thought no one would ever make this movie,” said writer-director Jordan Peele. The horror film follows a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s family who learns they kidnap African-Americans to steal their minds and bodies.

The show ranked among the longest. It was expected to be seen by about 30 million viewers in the US and millions more worldwide, though last year ratings fell to the lowest since 2008.

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