Though it's no traditional monster movie, THE SHAPE OF WATER still feels more like a genuine classic Universal horror film that that studio's own disastrous attempt to revive their line of famous monsters via the formulaic Tom Cruise vehicle THE MUMMY. A meticulously-crafted Cold War love story between a lonely mute woman and an amphibian man-fish captured in South America to be exploited for military purposes, THE SHAPE OF WATER has tension but very little actual horror, but I was still thoroughly engulfed and transfixed by it. The interspecies romance works extremely well and comes off as quite tender and not at all repellant, thanks to the writing and directing and endearing performance by Sally Hawkins. It's BEAUTY & THE BEAST meets THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, and the beautiful photography, music and immaculate attention to the details of its 1962 Baltimore setting provides the sumptuous icing to the film's emotional heart. I'm usually not big on "Oscar Favourites" but if this one wins Best Picture it will be a brave but worthy choice.