Guillermo del Toro won the top feature film prize for The Shape of Water at the Directors Guild of America Awards Saturday night in Beverly Hills, California, strengthening his bid to win the Best Director Oscar next month. A fantasy romance about a unique bond formed between a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) and an amphibian man (Doug Jones) in the early 1960s, The Shape of Water has been a major force throughout awards season, picking up Best Picture honors from the Producers Guild of America Awards and the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, as well as Best Director awards from the Golden Globes and the CCMAs. The film also scored a leading 13 nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards last month, as well as a leading 12 nods from the British Academy of Film and Television Awards.

While the film has received multiple honors from various critic and film journalist groups over the past few months, the industry attention The Shape of Water has been receiving is starting to give a good indication of how the film will fare at the Oscars on March 4. On Saturday, del Toro won one of the biggest honors in the film industry, an award whose winners traditionally go on to receive an Oscar.

Related: Full List of 90th Annual Academy Award Nominees

According to Variety, del Toro, who won the top DGA feature film award, praised the industry for allowing a diverse group of directors to tell their stories. The filmmaker, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, said in his acceptance speech, “Inclusion is necessary if for no other reason than we’re not hearing all the stories that need to be heard.” The director was nominated alongside Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk) and Jordan Peele (Get Out). All of the candidates for the top DGA honor were first-time nominees with the exception of Nolan, as Dunkirk marked his fourth nomination behind Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception.

The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water Wins DGA Top Feature Award

The odds are definitely in favor of del Toro at the upcoming Academy Awards, as only seven of the past 70 winners since the DGA Awards started in 1948 have not gone on to capture the Best Director Oscar. Facing off against del Toro in the category are Gerwig, Nolan, Peele and Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), whose nod knocked DGA nominee McDonagh out of contention.

While it’s difficult to truly declare one’s direction “the best” overall, fans of del Toro most certainly will be thrilled with the auteur’s DGA win and seemingly unstoppable momentum as The Shape of Water heads into the Oscars. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the filmmaker earning such industry acclaim is that it’s coming for a fantasy film, which was inspired by the Universal Studios monster movie classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. Only one fantasy movie has taken both the Best Picture and Best Director Oscar before – 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which was helmed by Peter Jackson.

NEXT: Guillermo del Toro Praises Oscars for Celebrating Horror Movies

Source:  Variety

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