Hamilton roots for The Shape of Water at the upcoming Oscars

The Shape of Water's 13 Oscar nominations are more of Guillermo del Toro spreading the word, says Hamilton's mayor.

A few movies shot in Hamilton have been nominated over the years

Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer star in The Shape of Water. (Fox Searchlight Pictures via AP) (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Associated Press)

Hamilton's mayor says it's a boon to the city's film industry that Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water is nominated for more than a dozen Academy Awards.

Fred Eisenberger says he's pleased to see that del Toro's film, shot in part in Hamilton, is up for 13 Oscars on March 4. That's one short of the Oscar record.

Del Toro tweeted praise for the city when he shot here in 2016, talking up Hamilton's book stores and restaurants. The production also brought economic spin off, including booking 600 hotel rooms for cast and crew.

The city is still in talks with del Toro's staff about setting up a film studio here, Eisenberger said.

"I'm rooting for him to continue filming in Hamilton, for sure," Eisenberger said.

Guillermo del Toro called Hamilton "full of promise and surprises." (Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

"If he meets with (Oscar) success, all the better for him and all the better for Hamilton."

In The Shape of Water, Sally Hawkins stars as a mute janitor at a U.S. government laboratory where officials are holding a merman. It was filmed largely in Hamilton and Toronto.

"I know there's a Seedy side of Hamilton- but you can feel a transformation from the last 5-6 years," del Toro tweeted in 2016, calling the city "full of promise and surprises." He later told the Toronto International Film Festival that he wanted to set up a studio here.

That led to ongoing talks between del Toro and city staff, which are still happening, Eisenberger said.

Whether del Toro sets up a studio here or not, the mayor said, the city is having several such conversations.

"Certainly, it's an industry that's got growth potential written all over it for Hamilton."

In 2015, 96 productions filmed in Hamilton. In 2016, there were 104.  

Numbers for the first three quarters of 2017 were comparable. As of Sept. 30 that year, 87 productions had registered, including 10 feature films.

Scott Henderson, a Brock University film expert, says The Shape of Water's nominations are "a reminder of the excellent industry that exists up there."

Henderson isn't banking on it winning best picture though. In the crowded nine-movie category, he thinks Call Me By Your Name has a shot at pulling off an upset.

Still, "I've never been a fan of the expanded Best Picture category," he said. "I liked it when it was five films."

Here are a few other Hamilton-area award season connections, past and present:

The Breadwinner

A free screening of The Breadwinner takes place at 3 p.m. at the National Gallery of Canada. (Elevation Pictures)

Norfolk County is part of Oscar season this year. The Breadwinner, based on the novel by author Deborah Ellis, is nominated for best animated film. The Canadian co-production was executive produced by Angelina Jolie.


Part of Spotlight was filmed in Hamilton. It starred, from left, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d’Arcy, Michael Keaton and John Slattery. (Kerry Hayes/Entertainment One)

Spotlight won best picture and best original screenplay in 2016, and part of it was filmed in Hamilton. It also brought supporting actor nods for Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo, a best director nomination for Tom McCarthy and a nomination for film editing.

Graham Greene

Graham Greene, originally of Six Nations, was nominated for Dances with Wolves in 1991.

Originally from Ohsweken, Greene spent some of his youth in Hamilton too. In 1991, he was nominated for best supporting actor for Dances With Wolves. And while he wasn't nominated this year, 2017 brought Greene plenty of critical acclaim with turns in Wind River and Molly's Game.

Greene remains one of the most prolific and celebrated Indigenous actors working right now. His Internet Movie Database profile lists 150 acting credits, including eight films in various stages of post-production. He was also in The Green Mile, which saw plenty of Oscar action in 2000.

The Handmaid's Tale

It doesn't qualify for an Oscar, but The Handmaid's Tale recently took home two Golden Globes, including best dramatic series. (Hulu)

It's a TV show, so it doesn't qualify for the Oscars, but The Handmaid's Tale did take home two Golden Globes this year. That includes best dramatic series, and a best female actor in a series award for Elisabeth Moss. Parts of the first season, and the forthcoming second season, were filmed in Hamilton. The series is based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name.

Cinderella Man

Paul Giamatti, shown here in Barney's Version, was nominated for best supporting actor for Cinderella Man. Part of that was shot in Hamilton. ((Sabrina Lantos/eOne Films))

Parts of 2005's Cinderella Man were filmed in Hamilton. It was nominated for three Oscars — supporting actor (Paul Giamatti), film editing and makeup.

Away From Her

Sarah Polley directed Away From Her, which was nominated for two Oscars. Part of it was filmed in Hamilton.

Sarah Polley directed the 2006 film Away From Her based on Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." Polley was nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, and Julie Christie for best actress.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs


Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca