Guillermo del Toro won his first Oscar Sunday night at the 90th annual Academy Awards, receiving the best director award for his sci-fi/romance movie “The Shape of Water.”
“I am an immigrant, like many, many of you, and in the last 25 years, I’ve been living in a country all of our own,” he said, taking the stage following a standing ovation.
In his acceptance speech, the Mexican born filmmaker followed the lead of many other winners, immediately pivoting to issues of diversity and inclusion. “I am an immigrant,” he said, acknowledging Salma Hayek, Gael García Bernal, and several other Mexican artists who were present in the room. “And in the last 25 years, I’ve been living in a country all of our own. Part of it is here, part of it is in Europe, part of it is everywhere. Because I think the greatest thing that art does, and that our industry does, is erase the lines in the sand when the world tells us to make them deeper.”
It was an appropriate sentiment for The Shape of Water, a film that focuses on the fear and alienation some can feel when faced with people and things they may not understand. In del Toro’s film, it’s personified by the remarkable hate and improbable love that a merman encounters when he’s pulled into a Baltimore lab to be studied.
Del Toro then thanked producers for listening to a “mad pitch” and believing “the movie would be a sure bet.”
“I want to thank the people that have come with me all the way,” he continued, thanking many contributors.
Del Toro has been the frontrunner on the circuit for months, after winning the Golden Globe, the Critics’ Choice prize, the Directors Guild Award, and the British Academy Film Award. He also received the lion’s share of the critics’ awards circuit in the fall.
The other nominees were Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”), Jordan Peele (“Get Out”), Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), and Paul Thomas Anderson (“Phantom Thread”)