The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro) - 2017

The latest telling of Beauty and the Beast may be the best.  Set in the early 1960s with the "Cold War" at its iciest, Del Toro relates a story of a creature captured in the Amazon for the purpose of advancing the U.S. Space Program.  Russian spies are everywhere and they want to foil any plan that U.S. scientists and generals may devise.  It appears that the only hope for the creature is a band of misfits led by Sally Hawkins with her excellent performance as a mute cleaning lady.  Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins and Michael Stuhlbarg are also excellent in their roles as co-conspirators.  But, the real stars are costume designer Luis Sequeira and the dozen members of the Makeup Department who created Hawkins's co-star (Doug Jones aka "Amphibian Man").  Del Toro's genius as a director makes one believe that such a thing could have possibly happened.  There are many twists and turns in the screenplay written by Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.  The two hours fly by as everyone in the audience roots for Sally and her beau to make their escape.  [JAM 2/4/2018]