A2P Cinema's Featured Filmmaker

I want to take a brief break from the A2P Cinema Recommends Double Feature to highlight a director who I admire and one that will be spotlighted strongly during the awards season....

Born: 1964, Mexico

His latest The Shape of Water (his 10th film) is earning awards and praise, which I am very happy to see for him and the films star Sally Hawkins - both of whom are long overdue for such accolades. I do think The Shape of Water is only a minor film for del Toro and while its great to see him winning such praise the hope is it will draw audiences to admire his previous work which to me is far more definitive of the visionary filmmaker he is.

Del Toro at his best captures monsters that are full of sincere thoughts emotions, thoughts and colors. He is concerned with mythological films centered around powerful realms on the verge of ruin and the real and fantasy horrors of childhood. All his films are filled with vivid visual and sound detail and design. The Shape of Water is his tenth film and I think its fair to say all have great or rewarding qualities. Here is A2P Cinema's ranking from favorite to least favorite…

1… The Devil's Backbone (2001)

"What is a ghost? A tragedy doomed to repeat itself time and again?" So begins The Devil's Backbone, a haunting ghost story set among the horrific backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. The centerpiece of these two is the haunting image of a bomb that lies unexploded on the grounds of the orphanage. This image stands as a reminder of the presence of both the war (which they can not escape) and of the death of boy (which stands as the guilt they can not escape). Essentially they are find themselves as flawed ghosts in some way and they must find a way to come together in the face of horror. When the film reaches its climax del Toro details that the war is not over because of the aftermath it has left, yet a small hope lies in the final image of the boys walking together toward an unknown future. Del Toro has made a beautifully memorable film which blends genres and feelings of shock, terror, dark humor, and compassion.

2… Crimson Peak (2015)

To me Crimson Peak may be the most definitive Guillermo del toro film, a filmmaker obsessed with the mythological. Filled with such rich texture and imagination Crimson Peak is a film that is in ways a throwback to Del toro's early gothic horror but now in the hands of a mature filmmaker at his own artistic peak.

3… Cronos (1993)

Del Toro's first feature film displayed the visions of his poetic style within genre as well as themes of immortality.

4… Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Given more freedom after the critic and commercial success of Pan's Labyrinth, Del toro creates something deeply personal with this terrific sequel.

5… Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Del Toro flawlessly blends reality and dreams, and we quickly discover that the nightmare of the story comes from the real world. Here the fantasy is developed as a means to escape the cruel reality of the world, but Pan's Labyrinth is not a typical film of childhood innocence and ultimately the world of fantasy and reality converge in a haunting finale that is exquisitely executed by Del Toro.

6… Blade II (2002)

A dazzling fimmaking achievement in the way del Toro morphs this studio film into his own vision - packed with trademark signatures and conflicted feelings. Blade 2 has grown the more I've seen it and to me it stands as one of the very best Marvel films ever made.

7… Hellboy (2004)

Del Toro has never made a film with poor set or sound design and Hellboy is further evidence. Hellboy is based off a comic book, and you can easily see why del Toro is atrracted to this character and story.

8… Pacific Rim (2013)

There is plenty of style and impressive visual effects here and del Toro creates some dazzling set pieces while clearly channeling his love for old monster movies like Godzilla. Nothing real thought-provoking but Pacific Rim hits on intended entertainment levels.

9… The Shape of Water (2017)

Lots of beauty here and Sally Hawkins is dreamy but this one strikes me as more hollow then most other del Toro films.

10… Mimic (1997)

Mimic deals with ideas and thoughts that are core to del Toro's vision and for that it is worth admiring. This just lacks the appeal that has defined his career.