A completely charming film by the master director Guillermo del Toro: every scene, every shot had visual beauty and plot significance. The caricature of 1950s America was comically dead-on, but not distracting – notably, Michael Shannon’s Dick and Jane family and Richard Jenkins’s Norman Rockwell art. Shannon was wonderfully evil, Octavia Spencer provided her usual semi-comic relief, and Sally Hawkins was Oscar-worthy in the difficult role of playing sweet, empathetic and fearful (and fully nude), all without speaking. The ultimate compliment may be this: while I judged various aspects of the film for its realism, it never occurred to me to question the Amazonian amphibian, the “asset,” that was at the center of the movie. Like a magician, del Toro diverted the viewer’s attention from his trick and made his fantasy world seem real and alive.