Guillermo del Toro's new movie The Shape of Water has been hailed as his best since his 2006 masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. In fact it won the Venice Film Festival's top prize, the Golden Lion, so it's safe to say the critics have gone gaga for the Mexican filmmaker's latest.
It's a sensitive fable about a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) who bonds with a mysterious aquatic creature (Doug Jones) that's locked away in the government lab where she works. Drawing as much on classic silent films and musicals as much as the director's own back catalogue, it's poised to enchant upon its UK release in February 2018.
As if you needed reminding, del Toro's new movie is one that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible – here are eight shots proving that no-one paints with the camera like this director does.
The director's breakout movie is a quintessentially Mexican take upon the Dracula myth. It revolves around a bloodsucking creature contained within a clockwork invention, one that confers immortality upon the user. Such a shot embodies many of del Toro's favourite occupations – insects, the passage of time – and remains burned into the mind of whoever watches the movie.
The making of this giant killer cockroach movie was troubled (del Toro's father was kidnapped during production – and he said even that proved less stressful than filming) but it's still drenched in exquisitely moody, subterranean atmosphere. The moment where the monsters' secret weapon is revealed – they have evolved to mimic humans – is a wonderful fusion of artful beauty and horror.
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Del Toro returned to the Spanish language for this superbly chilling and emotional ghost story. Set in a remote boys boarding school during the Spanish Civil War it tells the story of undead child Santi and the deadly secret that's connected to the building. Yet the movie's signature image is that of an unexploded bomb in the courtyard – a reflection of the dread and terror hanging over all of the characters.
It's being rebooted by Neil Marshall with David Harbour in the title role, but you can't beat the twisted imagery and wry humour of del Toro's two Hellboy movies. Ron Perlman steals it as the cigar chomping demon but it's the moonlit arrival of the movie's primary villain Kroenen, a kind of cyborg/Nazi fusion, that takes our breath away.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Now this was a tough one to choose. Del Toro's brutal, heartrending and operatic fairy tale/Civil War tale is overflowing with breathtaking imagery that criss-crosses the divide between the human realm and that of make-believe. Even so it's the moment where young Ophelia ventures into the gilded lair of the hideous, child-eating Pale Man that puts brilliantly imaginative design in the service of something truly terrifying.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
It pretty much repeats all the riffs from the original Hellboy movie – with added Barry Manilow tunage – but the gold-plated design of del Toro's sequel is hard to resist. Our favourite moment is where Perlman's wisecracking title character prepares to battle the titular Golden Army whilst standing upon clanking, mechanical clockwork – a quintessential del Toro image.
Pacific Rim (2013)
It's utterly ridiculous but few could deny the pleasure of watching oversized robots battling equally ginormous monsters (or 'kaiju', to use the official terminology). Del Toro's testosterone-powered blockbuster also has a wicked sense of humour, best shown in the awesome shot where a tanker is used as a battering ram. Bring it!
Crimson Peak (2015)
Style is laid upon style in del Toro's extravagant gothic romance. Set in a crumbling English mansion and with plenty of overwrought emotion between leads Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, it's one of del Toro's most sumptuously stylised movies. Even so it's the ragged, ever-changing nature of the film's ghost, oozing and pouring with wild abandon, that really captures the imagination.
Judging from the trailer, The Shape of Water is poised to be as artful and beautiful as del Toro's other classics. The movie is released on 16th February 2018 so if you haven't already watched it, check out the trailer below.