It may not have yet been released in the UK, but the unusual love story The Shape of Water looks set to make a big splash at this year’s Academy Awards. Starring British actress Sally Hawkins, the tale of a blossoming relationship between a mute cleaner and a mysterious amphibian-human creature leads the way with an amazing 13 nominations ahead of the glitzy March 4 ceremony in Los Angeles.

Valentine Day’s release in the UK

Already touching the hearts of American cinema-goers, the romantic film is aptly scheduled for a Valentine Day’s opening in this country. Hawkins has been rewarded for her heart-warming performance with one of the film’s many Oscar nods in the Best Actress category, and takes centre stage alongside Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery) in the Cold War movie.

Familiar to younger film fans

Hawkins may be familiar to fans of the Paddington films, where she played the part of Mrs Brown. Yet the challenging role of portraying the mute character Elisa Esposito in The Shape of Water seems set to propel her firmly into the public spotlight.

Military captive touches her heart

Elisa is a cleaner at a top-secret US government research facility, who discovers her amphibian love interest to be while performing her duties at the base. Her fondness for the creature develops as she spends more time in his presence and seeks to communicate with him, becoming aware of the military’s intention to utilise their captive to gain an advantage in the Space Race.

Will her escape plan work?

Sensing the imminent danger to her newly-found friend, Elisa hatches a desperate plan to provide an escape route for her partner and enlists the help of her caring interpreter friend and co-worker Zelda (played by Octavia Spencer).

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With the military hot on her trail, Elisa finds a temporary solution to keep her beau safe by hiding him in the bath at her flat. But will she be able to complete her ultimate aim of releasing him into a nearby canal a few days later when it offers the ultimate route all the way to the ocean?

Nominations in major categories

Written and directed by the talented Mexican Guillermo del Toro, the film no doubt benefits from his previous involvement with similar fantasy movies such as Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. The Academy clearly think so, putting it forward for Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer) and the highly-coveted Best Picture gong. There will be stiff competition from the much-acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in several of the categories.