Guillermo del Toro's Shape of Water conquers the Oscars

Roberta Armani Sally Hawkins Guillermo del Toro

Roberta Armani Sally Hawkins Guillermo del Toro Neil Rasmus

"The Shape of Water" was the big victor at the 90th Academy Awards. With a leading 13 nominations, the film took home the night's top prizes, also winning Best Picture, Best Director and Production Design.

"I am an immigrant", an emotional Del Toro said in collecting his first prize of the night, praising the power of filmmaking to "erase the line in the sand" between people of different countries and cultures.

The cold war-set fantasy thriller stars Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning woman who discovers a freaky aquatic-human hybrid in a tank at a secret government lab, and helps it escape.

A mature, yet childlike love story, "The Shape of Water" is based on an idea del Toro had as a boy when he first saw the 1950s cult creature classic "Creature of the Black Lagoon". After the nominations were announced, the family of late playwright Paul Zindel launched legal action over "glaring similarities" between The Shape of Water and Zindel's 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper.

Made for only 19 million US dollars, the movie has grossed 126 million dollars worldwide to date. The trio also won in the same category during the British Academy Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) presented on February 18.

Bankrolled by the Beijing-based company, "Darkest Hour" and "Phantom Thread" won the Oscars for Best Actor ("Darkest Hour"), Best Makeup & Hairstyling ("Darkest Hour") and Best Costume Design ("Phantom Thread").

Best supporting actor Sam Rockwell, best actress Frances McDormand, best supporting actress Allison Janney, and best actor Gary Oldman pose backstage with their Oscar trophies.

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In his acceptance speech, Oldman appeared near to tears.

McDormand, a victor throughout the awards season for her scintillating turn as a grieving, rage-filled mother in "Three Billboards", took home her second Oscar, 21 years after winning for "Fargo".

The movie about a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a unusual river creature - a fable about the mistreatment of the powerless - had gone into the ceremony with a leading 13 nominations, and won a total of four Academy Awards.

"We all have stories to tell".

Once the women were on their feet, she said: "Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed".

The Time's Up and Me Too movements, prompted by the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, were given the spotlight during a moving segment of the ceremony, while Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra, who are all Weinstein accusers, appeared on stage together.

In a year lacking a clear front-runner, the awards were spread around. Dunaway added: "Presenting is lovelier second time around".

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