Based on our latest racetrack odds, Guillermo del Toro looks poised to win his first Oscar: Best Director for “The Shape of Water,” a romantic fantasy about a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a fish man (Doug Jones). He could also pick up trophies for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay (shared with Vanessa Taylor), which would make him only the 8th person in history to win all three categories for the same film. Will this finally be his golden ticket? And how does it compare with the rest of his filmography? Tour through our photo gallery above of all 10 of del Toro’s films ranked from worst to best.
Del Toro received his first Oscar nomination 11 years ago: Best Original Screenplay for “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006). He’s been missing in action from the Academy Awards since then, but came roaring back with “The Shape of Water,” which competes in 13 categories overall, more than any other film. After victories at the DGA, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice Awards del Toro might be unstoppable for Best Director, and our racetrack odds have him predicted to win Best Picture as well, though that’s a much closer race with “Get Out” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Original Screenplay may be a little trickier (“The Shape of Water” currently ranks fourth with odds of 40/1), but if there’s one thing we know about Oscar voters, it’s that if they like you, they really like you — just look at del Toro’s friend and colleague Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who won four Oscars in two years, including Picture, Director and Original Screenplay for “Birdman” (2014). So three victories for del Toro is entirely possible.
In honor of his latest achievement, check out our gallery of del Toro’s greatest films above.
10. “Mimic” (1997)
After stunning international audiences with “Cronos,” del Toro brought his unique vision to Hollywood with the creature feature “Mimic.” Mira Sorvino stars as Dr. Susan Tyler, an entomologist who genetically created an insect to kill cockroaches carrying a deadly disease. Three years later, Dr. Tyler must battle her own monsters before they destroy humanity. Del Toro famously fought with executive producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein over every aspect of the film, eventually disowning it. Luckily, the newly released director’s cut restores his vision, clearing up some of the narrative confusion caused by too many scissors in the editing room. Even with the famously persnickety Weinsteins breathing down his neck, del Toro manages to fill the screen with many striking images, elevating “Mimic” above its B-movie origins into something much creepier.
9. “Blade II” (2002)
The original “Blade” (1998) wasn’t exactly crying out for a sequel, yet this followup to the Wesley Snipes vampire hunter saga is more entertaining than it has any right to be because of del Toro’s visual flair and obsession with viscera. Snipes stars as the half-man, half-vampire crusader who forms an unholy alliance with the bloodsuckers to combat a new breed of ravenous killers known as the Reapers. Its with these seriously nasty creatures that del Toro shows off his gift for making your worst nightmares come to life. While this is certainly a minor work, it’s still one hell of a fun ride.
8. “Hellboy” (2004)
With “Hellboy,” del Toro found the ultimate outcast anti-hero. Ron Perlman has the time of his life as the cigar-chomping, demon-slaying devil, who battles the underworld after being conjured by Nazis. The director brings Mike Mingola’s comics to life with splashy, colorful visuals that seem lifted right off the page and onto the screen. He also surrounds Hellboy with a variety of lovable oddballs both human and in-human, including a walking, talking fish boy named Abe Sapien (voiced by David Hyde Pierce and brought to life by Doug Jones) that prefigures the creature from his 2017 masterwork “The Shape of Water.”
7. “Cronos” (1993)
Del Toro first came to the attention of audiences with this stunning debut about an antiques dealer (Federico Luppi) who discovers an ancient device that grants immortality by drinking the blood of its user. But everything has a price, and the user must in turn consume blood to stay forever young. “Cronos” explores many themes and tropes that would become staples of del Toro’s work: the use of horror and fantasy as metaphor, religious iconography in images, a delicate mixture of comedy and pathos. Despite the obvious growing pains present in any first feature, the film provides a showcase for the immense talent del Toro would soon become.
6. “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008)
Nobody has a knack for sequels like del Toro, and “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” is that rare followup that’s better than the original. This installment finds the red devil with a heart of gold (Ron Perlman) doing battle against the mythical underworld when it starts a rebellion against humanity to rule the Earth. Brimming with invention and overflowing with eye-popping creatures (the film reaped an Oscar nomination for its makeup design), this feels like the “Hellboy” movie del Toro wanted to make. Although it was overshadowed by two other summer superhero blockbusters released that summer – “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” – “Hellboy II” remains a devilish entertainment.
5. “Crimson Peak” (2015)
And the award for del Toro’s most underrated feature goes to “Crimson Peak,” a seriously spooky ghost story wrapped in a romance with some gothic humor thrown in. The story centers on Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring author who falls in love with a mysterious outsider named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When tragedy strikes, she abandons her childhood friend (Charlie Hunnam) to marry Thomas and live with him and his sister (Jessica Chastain) in a mansion filled with secrets and spirits. In “Crimson Peak,” you see many of the director’s influences – from Mary Shelley to James Whale to Alfred Hitchcock – yet this is wholly his vision. Del Toro fills the screen with haunting and operatic images that chill audiences to the bone. After being largely ignored upon its release, the film has found a second life much like the scary ghouls that haunt Miss Cushing. Just don’t watch it with the lights out.
4. “Pacific Rim” (2013)
“Pacific Rim” may be del Toro’s most exhilarating entertainment yet, a monsters and robots mashup that’s part “Godzilla,” part “Transformers,” and all fun. Set in the not-too-distant future, the film centers on a war between mankind and giant sea creatures called Kaiju. When conventional weaponry wont do, brave soldiers must operate massive automatons, known as Jaegers, piloted with their bodies and minds. The film is basically an excuse for a bunch of rock ‘em sock ‘em fight sequences, and del Toro stages them with visual style and bravura. He also fills the frame with eye-popping art direction and stunning visual effects that were inexplicably snubbed at the Oscars. “Pacific Rim” never takes itself too seriously, nor should it. Here’s hoping the upcoming sequel can live up to the original.
3. “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001)
“The Devil’s Backbone” is in many ways a spiritual cousin to “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), a ghost story set against real life horrors. In the final days of the Spanish Civil War, a twelve-year-old boy (Fernando Tielve) is sent to live at an ominous orphanage after his freedom fighting father is killed in action. He finds the home haunted by the ghoul of a recently murdered child with unfinished business. Yet as is always the case with del Toro, the real monsters are the human ones. The director proves himself to be a master at creating tension and suspense, making the orphanage a place filled with doom and secrets. It’s also a surprisingly emotional film, another instance of del Toro wearing his heart on his sleeve and creating one of his finest works.
2. “The Shape of Water” (2017)
Del Toro’s affinity for monsters has never been so beautifully expressed than in “The Shape of Water,” a romantic creature feature about a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a giant fish man (Doug Jones). The screenplay by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor is a delicate balancing act of sci-fi chills, Cold War espionage, and musical comedy, held together by a cineaste at the top of his game. Every character is given multiple dimensions, from Richard Jenkins as the maid’s gay neighbor to Octavia Spencer as her faithful confidant, from Michael Shannon as the villainous government official bent on destroying the creature to Michael Stuhlbarg as the Russian spy anxious to save it. Del Toro has often used monsters as a metaphor for misfits, and at its heart, the film is a heartfelt ode to society’s outcasts. “The Shape of Water” hit the Oscar jackpot, snagging 13 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay for del Toro.
1. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)
With his masterpiece “Pan’s Labyrinth,” del Toro found the perfect blend of fantasy and horror, wonder and gore. It is at once a frightening fable and a hauntingly realistic chronicle of war. At its center is Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a bookish girl who uses her imagination to escape into a magical realm to avoid her dictatorial stepfather (Sergi Lopez), a sadistic army officer in the falangist Spain of 1944. With the faun and the Pale Man (both played by Doug Jones), del Toro creates his most terrifying monsters, yet neither compares to the fascism from which Ofelia hopes to break free. The film rightfully won Oscars for its stunning art direction, lush cinematography and extravagant makeup. Del Toro competed in Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film, losing to “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Lives of Others” respectively. Oscar or no Oscar, “Pan’s Labyrinth” remains the crowning achievement of del Toro’s career, a deeply moving, haunting fable that expresses the very best of the director’s unique storytelling talents.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.