Best Picture went to the film that collected the most trophies of the night (four): Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. A strange, sometimes violent, but sweetly told story of love between a mute custodian and an amphibious creature in a government lab, the film clearly inspired voters with its allegorical thrust, telling a story of outsiders fighting to exist in a hostile world.
“Growing up in Mexico as a kid, I was a big admirer of foreign films, like E.T. or William Wyler or Douglas Sirk or Frank Capra,” del Toro said before gesturing to Steven Spielberg in the audience. “A few weeks ago, Steven Spielberg said, ‘If you find yourself [on the podium], remember you are part of a legacy, part of a world of filmmakers, and be proud of it’ ... I was a kid enamored with movies growing up in Mexico. I thought this could never happen; it happens.”
After last year’s mix-up over Moonlight’s Best Picture win, del Toro made sure to check the envelope, flashing an excited grin to the audience (the award was, for the second year in a row, presented by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway). “Everyone who’s dreaming of a parable, of using genre and fantasy to tell stories about the real world … This is a door,” del Toro said of his win. “Kick it open and come in.”
The host Jimmy Kimmel then took the stage with the most important news of the night: the costume designer Mark Bridges of Phantom Thread had won the jet ski prize for shortest speech at 36 seconds. Thus concluded a nearly four-hour ceremony with a lot less drama than last year, a fact that was probably music to Kimmel and his producers’ ears.