WGA Awards, Guillermo del Toro, weekend box office

Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele

“Get Out” and “Call Me By Your Name” win at WGA Awards

“I’m your host Patton Oswalt or as Guillermo del Toro puts it, ‘The Shape of Pudding,’” said the comedian as he opened up his third year of hosting The 70th Annual Writers Guild Awards which took place simultaneously in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton and in New York (hosted by Late Night With Seth Myers writer Amber Ruffin) at the Edison Ballroom.

With Trophy Maids (two women dressed in Handmaid’s Tale costumes) standing off to the side with the awards, Jordan Peele once again took home an award for his directorial debut, Get Out. The writer/director won Best Original Screenplay.

If you haven’t seen it, Peele’s script focuses on a young black photographer who has to deal with an array of strange behavior and supernatural horror at the family home of his white girlfriend. The film has been widely praised.

“This was a passion project. It was something that I put my love into, I put my soul into, so getting this from you means so much,” Peele said in his acceptance, noting he began working on the script in 2008.

In the Best Adapted Screenplay category, 89-year-old James Ivory won for his first script that he wrote in long-hand, Call Me By Your Name. Ivory’s screenplay won over Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber’s The Disaster Artist, Dee Rees and Virgil Williams’ Mudbound, and Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green for Logan.

The script is based on Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel of a romantic relationship between a 17-year-old American boy and a visiting 24-year-old American scholar in 1983 Italy. Ivory’s screenplay has been widely praised for its empathy in portraying the nuances of a story of first love.

“I’m astonished by all this! I just wanted to go and make a film in Italy again,” said a delighted Ivory said in his acceptance.

Ivory, 89, is a first-time WGA nominee. He received a trio of Oscar nominations for directing The Remains of the Day, Howards End and Room with a View.

For TV, HBO’s Veep took home honors for Best Comedy and Hulu’s dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale won the Top Drama Series and New Series Awards.

“Mostly this goes to Margaret Atwood for her novel. She is the mother of us all,” showrunner Bruce Miller said during their acceptance.

For a full list of winners, click here.

“Shape of Water’s” del Toro on monsters and empathy

It was like being in artist’s church Friday night at Raleigh Studios as Guillermo del Toro addressed a group of film buffs, guild members and fans at The Wrap Screening of Shape of Water.

If you haven’t seen the film which just won Best Picture at the PGA Awards and DGA Awards, it is a beautifully crafted fairy tale about Eliza (Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaning woman, who falls in love with an Amphibian Creature (Doug Jones) who looks like a cross between the Creature from The Black Lagoon and Abe Sapien from del Toro’s Hellboy series.

The film is a wonderful piece about love and acceptance, but according to the director, who spoke with the Wrap’s Steve Pond, it is also about looking at monsters in society and within ourselves. “To talk about monsters, you need monsters.”

Del Toro was fairly straightforward in his inspiring interview, which followed a screening of the film, saying that although it is set in 1962, the film is a parable about right now, speaking to the fear of outsiders and our divisiveness over knowledge and ideas that were as true in 1962 as they are today.

“I think we are in a very dangerous time right now. We have sacrificed and substituted intelligence for cynicism. We have never been so close and so far apart. And we are told for many, many reasons that the ‘other’ is to blame.”

Del Toro and Pond at Wrap screening
Del Toro and Pond at Wrap screening

Del Toro went onto explain that he loaded his film with what he refers to as “others.” These are nameless people who are often persecuted today and were certainly on the fringes of society in 1962. In addition to Hawkins’s mute character, there’s an aging and struggling advertising art director, who is also gay, played by Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer as a woman trying to find her place at home and at work. Even villain, Michael Shannon, finds that he is out of sorts in his world as well.

Together, these people project their needs and their desires onto this creature and fight to save him, only for the monster to reveal himself as a messiah and save them in the end.

“For about two-thirds of the movie, the creature is an empty space where everyone pours what they think it should be, and then it defines itself in the last third of the movie,” del Toro said. “He is as ‘other’ as it gets, and he is saved by the others, by the invisible, the silent, the nameless, coming together to rescue him.”

For Del Toro, The Shape of Water is a film about empathy for the “other.” Right now, with hate being spewed from our TV’s to out tweets, the film is a parable we need.

To watch the full interview, click here.

“Fifty Shades Freed” leads weekend


Contact Colin Costello at colin@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.