“The Shape of Water” defied the SAG ensemble stat Sunday, becoming the first film and second overall since “Braveheart” (1995) to win the Best Picture Oscar without a SAG ensemble nomination. But that’s not the only thing it has in common with the William Wallace epic. “The Shape of Water” is also the first film since “Braveheart” to take Best Picture without acting, writing or editing wins.
All three are important categories that could burnish a Best Picture victory, though less so with editing, where a nomination could suffice alongside wins in the other races. “Shape” had three acting nominations — for Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins — and vied in original screenplay and editing, but it wasn’t favored in any of them and lost them all. It is the ninth Best Picture champ to lose its three-plus acting nominations and the first Best Picture winner since “The Artist” (2011) not to garner a screenplay award. Unlike “Shape,” “Braveheart” didn’t receive any acting nominations, but it lost Best Original Screenplay to “The Usual Suspects” and Best Editing to “Apollo 13.”
But both films won the other very important award that a Best Picture champ typically carries with it: Best Director, for “Shape”‘s Guillermo del Toro and “Braveheart”‘s Mel Gibson. In Gibson’s day, there was a greater correlation between director and picture, but there’s been more of a separation of church and state between them in recent years, partially due to the preferential ballot; four of the previous five years had splits. “Shape” is the first film since “Birdman” (2014) to claim both prizes.
“Shape” took home four trophies, just one shy of “Braveheart”‘s haul. Now, will the next Best Picture winner lacking a SAG ensemble nomination also get blanked in acting, writing and editing?