“The Shape of Water” wins the Golden Lion at Venice

Over the weekend, the 2017 Venice Film Festival handed out their awards, with Guillermo del Toro’s ravenously received The Shape of Water taking the top prize. While the Golden Lion isn’t quite an Academy Award barometer, it’s nothing to sneeze at either. This marks an important point in the road, as things are heating up. We’re not yet at the precursor season, but any feather in your hat right now is a boon for a contender. As such, del Toro has to consider himself in a very nice place. The next few months will still be about getting the proverbial ducks in a row. The real fun is still to come.

Obviously, the Golden Lion went to del Toro’s highly praised movie, as The Shape of Water got the first big awards season boost. It took home the top prize, while other highlighted winners include Charlie Plummer winning the Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress, honoring his work in Lean on Pete, as well as Martin McDonagh getting Best Screenplay for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Those were the winners among the potential Oscar vehicles, though they were hardly the only recipients. You’ll see all of those shortly, but first, there’s a bit of history that’s worth discussing. As you’ll be able to tell in a moment, the Golden Lion is hardly a forbearer of Best Picture success.

For a quick comparison, this is what has won the Golden Lion each year (including this one) since 2000:

2000 – The Circle
2001 – Monsoon Wedding
2002 – The Magdalene Sisters
2003 – The Return
2004 – Vera Drake
2005 – Brokeback Mountain
2006 – Still Life
2007 – Lust, Caution
2008 – The Wrestler
2009 – Lebanon
2010 – Somewhere
2011 – Faust
2012 – Pietà
2013 – Sacro GRA
2014 – A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
2015 – From Afar
2016 – The Woman Who Left
2017 – The Shape of Water

The question is, how will The Shape of Water, as well as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, do during the season? For del Toro’s flick, it’s slowly making the case to be a big deal across the board. What will potentially hold it back in terms of Oscar is its fantasy genre, though that remains to be seen. There’s a day where it contends for double digit nominations, or just ends up with a single citation. The former probably is more likely than the latter, however. As for McDonagh’s movie, he seems to be likeliest as a Screenplay contender, though watch out for Sam Rockwell in Supporting Actor. Either way, it’s still very early…

Here now are all of the awards out of the Venice Film Festival:

Golden Lion
The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro

Grand Jury Prize
Foxtrot, directed by Samuel Maoz

Silver Lion — Best Director
Xavier Legrand, Jusqu’à la Garde

Volpi Cup — Best Actress
Charlotte Rampling, Hannah

Volpi Cup — Best Actor
Kamel El Basha, The Insult

Best Screenplay
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Special Jury Prize
Sweet Country, directed by Warwick Thornton

Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress
Charlie Plummer, Lean on Pete


Best Film
Nico, 1988, directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli

Best Director
Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature

Special Jury Prize
Caniba, directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel

Best Actress
Lyna Khoudri, Les Bienheureux

Best Actor
Navid Mohammadzadeh, No Date, No Signature

Best Screenplay
Los Versos Del Olvido, directed by Alireza Khatami

Best Short Film
Gros Chagrin, directed by Céline Devaux

Lion of the Future — “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film
Jusqu’à la Garde, directed by Xavier Legrand


Best Restoration
Idi I Smotri, directed by Elem Klimov

Best Documentary on Cinema
The Prince and the Dybbuk, directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski


Best VR
Arden’s Wake (Expanded), directed by Eugene YK Chung

Best VR Experience
La Camera Insabbiata, directed by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang

Best VR Story
Bloodless, directed by Gina Kim

Stay tuned to see how The Shape of Water does this awards season!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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