In a heavily competitive 90th Academy Awards, there was arguably no category that was filled with more uncertainty as to who would win than Best Director. Emma Stone began the nominee list by saying, “these four men and Greta Gerwig” were up for the award (hat tip to Natalie Portman at the Golden Globes), but each of the five nominees was incredibly deserving, and ultimately, the Oscar went to Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water.
“I think that art does and our industry does is erase the lines in the sand, we should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper,” Del Toro said. The director of Pan’s Labyrinth then joked that there was nowhere he loved to live more than Fox Searchlight: “they believed a fairy tale about an amphibian god, a mute woman, and a musical and a thriller was a sure bet.”
This was Del Toro’s first Oscar win on his fourth nomination, beating out Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which had already won multiple technical awards early in the evening, Jordan Peele’s Get Out (which won Best Original Screenplay), Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread.