The Shape of Water ★★★★★

This dark, vivid, and arrestingly beautiful fairy tale is a worthy successor to Pan’s Labyrinth and a powerful reaffirmation of visionary director Guillermo del Toro’s status as one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation. Brought to life by a truly magnificent cast of character actors (including Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, and Michael Stuhlbarg), all at the top of their game and each of whom should contend in the acting races this awards season, The Shape of Water is a moving and meticulously rendered fantasy fable that is so rich in its many layers and textures, it forces the viewer to marvel at the seemingly limitless depths of del Toro’s fertile and bizarre imagination.