Oscar front-runner Guillermo del Toro says being nominated is like ‘the greatest prom night in the world’

"The Shape of Water" director Guillermo del Toro.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi romance “The Shape of Water” led Tuesday’s Oscar nominations with 13 nods, including for best picture and best director.

The Mexican filmmaker, who wrote, directed and produced the fantastical drama, was previously nominated for an Oscar for 2006’s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which won three awards.

His latest outing has long been an Oscar contender. Del Toro already scooped up the directing prize at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this month and won the Producers Guild of America’s top honor on Saturday. The highly personal monster film was also recognized when the Directors Guild of America announced the DGA Award nominees earlier this month.

Live updates: ‘The Shape of Water’ leads with 13 nominations »


Shortly after the 90th Academy Award nominees were announced, Del Toro reflected on the momentous occasion in a chat with the Los Angeles Times.

Complete this sentence for me: “Being nominated for an Oscar is like ______.”

The greatest prom night in the world.

You’re the leader of the pack with 13 nominations. How does it feel?

It’s better than morning coffee.

How did you get the news?

Waiting patiently, surfing channels. At the end of the day, you’re not as informed as you think you are as to where it will play. Had dinner yesterday, Alejandro [Iñárritu] and Alfonso [Cuarón] who were giving me pointers to relax if it happens, to be prepared if the season continues with the nominations … it was a very nice way to receive it.

The complete list of 2018 Oscar nominees »

What would your 6-year-old-self think of this moment? [Del Toro has said in the past that the fasciation for the creature featured in “Shape of Water” started when he was 6, after watching the 1954 film “Creature From the Black Lagoon.”]

It’s actually a very beautiful question because I think this is a landmark year for the genre that I love. I’ve seen how Jordan Peele has weaponized “Get Out” into being a powerful social fable. And “Shape of Water,” with the alchemy, of taking the genre and taking it into a parable about the other — this is a beautiful way to [go] into the season with two movies that are in the conversation. My 6-year-old self would say, “Way to go!”

What is it like having a film in the conversation?

What is beautiful is to get there being faithful to the images you have loved all your life. To arrive with a story and characters that you have seen in films before in one way or another and you bring 25 years of craft and 25 years of learning into a movie. It’s really beautiful. It’s happening for the right reasons in the right way.

How will you celebrate?

By traveling to Japan. I think the best way to celebrate is to continue working on movies reaching an audience.

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.

Follow me: @NardineSaad