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7 Reasons Why The Shape of Water’s History-Making Golden Lion Win at Venice is so Important

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The Venice Film Festival wrapped up yesterday with a historic win for The Shape of Water which snatched the Golden Lion from other acclaimed films including Foxtrot (Grand Jury Prize). Annette Bening and co. chose to reward a film that was one of the fest’s most widely appealing, universally beloved film and one that scored a rare consensus among critics and festival goers.

But why was the win yesterday a big deal? Here are 7 reasons why del Toro’s film just made history and can continue to:

Del Toro became the first ever Mexican filmmaker to win the award

This is a big stat: in the history of the Venice Film Festival, no other Mexican filmmaker ever won that award. Del Toro now leaps over the other two ‘amigos’ – Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu for being the first of the three amigos and the first Mexican director to win this prestigious award. While Oscar winners Gravity and Birdman also launched their Oscar campaigns from the Lido, they both left empty-handed.

First English-language film to win in 7 years

Ever since Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere won the Golden Lion in 2010, no other English-language film had won this prize. Some films came close in previous editions but none actually won it. The Shape of Water breaks a 7-year record that could have stayed intact if Bening and co. had gone for a controversial, more obscure title.

A chance to break a box office record for a Golden Lion winner

As with point #2, the United States hasn’t produced a Golden Lion winner since 2010’s Somewhere. That picture was a $7m budget film distributed by Focus Feature and scored a $14 million worldwide box office. The Shape of Water, whose budget is $20m, will almost definitely enjoy a much higher overall box office gross when Fox Searchlight releases it this fall. In fact, its US gross may beat Somewhere’s worldwide gross to become the highest grossing Golden Lion winner since 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.

A chance to become the first Golden Lion winner in 10 years to score acting Oscar nods

Ever since 2008 when Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler won the Golden Lion, no other Golden Lion winner has scored an Oscar nomination for acting. The Wrestler earned two (for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei). The Shape of Water may match that (Sally Hawkins and/or Richard Jenkins/Michael Shannon) or exceed that (3-4 noms for Hawkins, Jenkins, Shannon and Octavia Spencer).

A chance to become the first Golden Lion winner in 12 years to score a Best Director nod (and win)

Ever since 2005, when Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion, no other Golden Lion winner scored a Best Director nod or win. Can The Shape of Water break this 12-year record? We sure think so.

A chance to become the first Best Picture nominee and Golden Lion winner in 12 years

No other Golden Lion winner earned a Best Picture nomination after 2005’s Golden Lion winner Brokeback Mountain. If (and when)The Shape of Water earns that, it will also break this 12-year record set by Brokeback.

If it wins Best Picture, it becomes the first Golden Lion winner to ever win both awards

And here’s the big one, if The Shape of Water manages to win Best Picture, it will become the first film to win both the Lion and the BP Oscar. A big stat that will be interesting to follow this awards season.

Currently, The Shape of Water is #1 in Best Picture and Best Director from the Gold Rush Gang, with Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins (not to mention nearly every tech category possible) also in the top 5 or top 10. Check out our 2018 Oscar nomination predictions right here.

Mina Takla

Mina Takla is a foreign correspondent for AwardsWatch and the co-founder of The Syndicate, an online news agency that offers original content services to several film brands including Empire Magazine’s Middle East edition and the Dubai Film Festival. Takla has attended, covered and written from over 10 film festivals online including the Dubai International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Cannes, Venice and Annecy Film Festivals. He been following the Oscar race since 2000 with accurate, office-pool winning predictions year after year. He writes monthly in Empire Arabia, the Arabic version of the world’s top cinema magazine and conducts press junkets with Hollywood stars in the UK and the US. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Marketing from Australia’s Wollongong University and is currently based in Dubai, UAE.

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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