3. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Guillermo Del Toro’s 2001 horror achieves its number three ranking due to its effective and often beautiful cinematography, as well as its fascinating and unique story. While these are two things that Del Toro certainly doesn’t lack in any of his films, his work on The Devil’s Backbone is perhaps more clear than at almost any other point in his career and is proof of how sensational of a film can be made by this director when he’s passionate about what he’s working on. A heartfelt and sombre horror film, this 2001 release is ahead of its time in the way Del Toro presents this story of love, war and ghostly revenge, and is undoubtedly a high point in the director’s respected career.
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2. The Shape of Water (2017)
Following closely behind the top spot is the Oscars Best Picture & Best Director winner of 2018 The Shape of Water.
Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer take the limelight in this incredibly touching love story between Eliza (Hawkins) and a captured amphibian man, played by Doug Jones; a legend among Guillermo Del Toro’s films who has appeared as many weird and wonderful creatures over the years.
The film was praised for its beautiful cinematography, magical score and silent-era-inspired production design, as well as its awards nominated cast and crew. Its use of colour, setting and the beautiful contrast of sound and silence with selective mute Eliza creates a wonderfully magical tone in this seemingly dark film; a picture that finally offered Del Toro his moment in the limelight of awards season and the credit he deserves for being able to achieve extraordinarily imaginative cinema with smaller than usual budgets (this film somehow costing less than $20million, 1/10 that of a Disney animated film or Marvel Studios production).
1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Perhaps Del Toro’s most famous film and the picture most fans associate with the director’s famed off-kilter sensibilities, Pan’s Labyrinth has become a classic amongst horror fans, fantasy fans and Del Toro fans alike.
Set in Spain’s Francoist period, the film’s narrative intertwines reality with a mythical world through the eyes of Ofelia, the daughter of a Falangist Captain. The creative and at times frightening use of animatronics, CGI and makeup bring the strange mythical creatures to life and turn the Labyrinth into a tangible reality that is even more frightening for how real it feels. The film offers a dark and mysterious take on folk and fairy tales as Ofelia gets pulled into the titular Labyrinth, with many suggestions made surrounding the metaphorical and hidden meanings of the film making for a mythology surrounding the intentions of the piece that is just as interesting as the film itself.
For how iconically Del Toro this film is, and how well received this singular creative vision was and reamins to be to this day, Pan’s Labyrinth is the number one film of this director’s extraordinary career.
But what do you think? Have we ranked this great filmmaker’s films correctly? How would you have ordered them? Let us know in the comments!