Moviegoer: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water had just opened in Seattle when I left for Panama, and I was afraid I’d miss it. To my great joy, the film was still playing at our independent arts theater SIFF, and I dashed out on Sunday afternoon — in the midst of post-travel catch up — to see it.

I’m utterly dazzled at the blockbuster performances coming from lesser known female actors in leading roles, like Sally Hawkins playing Elisa. Who in the world is Sally Hawkins, and where was such talent before it burst into full view in this film? The Oscar list for Actress in a Leading Role is killer competitive this year. The only one I haven’t seen is Margot Robbie in “I,Tonya” — and I still might catch that before the film leaves SIFF.

I’m a big fan of Frances McDormand and of Three Billboards — but essentially Frances  McDormand plays herself whether in Fargo or Three Billboards or in giving her remarks at the Golden Globes. Meryl Streep is an iconic talent, who can convince us she is Katharine Graham or Margaret Thatcher or Julia Child or Karen Silkwood or the trashy mother in August: Osage County seemingly without breaking a sweat. I loved Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, a little less so in Lady Bird — although that movie won the far higher profile.

Women rock across the board this year — including Octavia Spencer, who plays Elisa’s best friend and ally on the cleaning staff of the facility where “The Asset” is being held. The performance of Richard Jenkins as Giles, Elisa’s gay neighbor and ally as well, fills out the political overtones of this deftly crafted and beautifully filmed fable.

I love going to the movies — have loved doing so ever since I was a kid and went to the Saturday matinee at the Lincoln Theater on Kearny Avenue, where a modest admission price brought popcorn, an introductory newsreel, two features, and sometimes a cartoon in between. People may think that streaming video means that the heyday of Hollywood has passed. But not for me. Not for me.

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