Shape of water

The Shape Of Water

Last night’s Venice Golden Lion triumph for Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water has brought this year’s awards race into sharper focus given the Italian festival’s recent habit of grooming Oscar winners.

Fox Searchlight is understood to be mounting a broad campaign for the Cold War-era fairytale that includes best picture, director for del Toro, and actress for Sally Hawkins. It receives its Canadian premiere here tomorrow (Sept 11).

The Shape Of Water will go up against Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk in the best picture and directing stakes as Warner Bros mounts an all-categories push for the World War Two drama, while Paramount has high hopes for Alexander Payne’s satirical Downsizing, Netflix is getting behind Dee Rees’ race drama Mudbound, and SPC will make some noise with coming-of-age romance Call Me By Your Name.

Focus Features is putting its weight behind Darkest Hour and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Focus and Annapurna’s Phantom Thread directed by PT Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis allegedly in his final role remains unseen but cannot be discounted. Denis Villeneuve will unveil Alcon Entertainment’s Blade Runner 2049 next month, which Warner Bros distributes in North American and Sony handles internationally.

Hawkins takes her place among a high-pedigree crop of lead actresses that could include Margot Robbie should a US buyer snap up the much-fancied Toronto premiere I, Tonya, which at time of writing had Netflix and several others in pursuit.

Autumn festival darlings include Jessica Chastain (STX’s Molly’s Game), Emma Stone and Frances McDormand (Searchlight’s Battle Of The Sexes and Three Billboards In Ebbing, Missouri), Jennifer Lawrence (Paramount’s mother!), and Saoirse Ronan (A24’s Lady Bird).

SPC has Annette Bening in Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, and will push Daniela Vega to become the first Oscar-nominated transgender actress for Berlinale selection A Fantastic Woman.

Names to watch out for in the lead male actor race include Jake Gyllenhaal (Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate’s Stronger) and Ben Stiller (Amazon Studios’ Brad’s Status), while Christian Bale could make a splash with Telluride hit Hostiles, which remains available and screens here tomorrow. Chadwick Boseman in Marshall as the pioneering African-American Supreme Court judge Thurgood Marshall arrives via Open Road in October.

Still to come are Denzel Washington in Sony’s crime drama Roman Israel, Esq. on Sunday and two New York Film Festival bookends from Amazon Studios – Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying starring Bryan Cranston and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel with Kate Winslet. Later in the year come Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post (Fox), and Michelle Williams and Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World for TriStar.