The 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Los Angeles were not without their fair share of tears, laughs, cheers and surprises. What made big waves though was CODA, winning the award for Best Picture. Here’s why it is such a big deal.
About the Oscars 2022
If you missed out on the most prestigious of award functions, here are all the latest updates. With Will Smith reaching a milestone in his career with his first-ever Oscar for his performance in King Richard, Jane Campion winning the award for Best Director, and Dune winning six awards out of the ten it was nominated for, the Oscars were a night to be remembered. But what really made headlines was Apple TV + film CODA which not only won the Best Picture Award but won an award in every category that it was nominated for, namely Best adapted screenplay and Best supporting actor.
The film bagging the Oscars was a precedent for a lot of firsts. Troy Kotsur was the first deaf male actor to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, while the film itself was the first ever from a streaming service to win the award.
What is CODA about?
The film revolves around a family of deaf people, with Ruby (played by Emilia Jones), the only member who can hear, being the one who interprets for her parents and thus keeps their fishing boat business alive. The young girl struggles to maintain the balance between her high school life and the family’s needs. The coming of age story’s title is an acronym for ‘child of deaf adults’ and premiered at Sundance Film Festival last year. The film’s storyline while impressive isn’t just the only thing that left viewers pleased. It also hits the right chords.
In an emotional scene where Ruby asks Jackie (her mother, played by Marlee Matlin) whether she ever wishes she was deaf too. Jackie tearfully recounts how when Ruby was born and the doctors gave her a hearing test, she had hoped for it. “I prayed that you would be deaf,” Jackie says. This was because she felt she’d never be able to connect with her daughter if it turned out that she was able to hear.
This and other heartwarming moments through the film’s duration are what stuck with the audience, proving in The Guardian's words that ‘cliches sometimes work’. To add a special touch to the movie, Director Heder hired two directors of artistic sign language, Alexandria Wailes and Anne Tomasetti for the script, along with having sign language consultants on set. At the SAG Awards, where CODA bagged the award for Best cast, at the acceptance speech, Marlee Matlin said, “This validates the fact that we, deaf actors, can work just like anybody else. We look forward to more opportunities for deaf actors,” she said and then went on to teach the audience ASL for “I love you”.
How Apple beat Netflix at the Oscars
What caught everyone’s breath was how the contenders for the Best Picture award were Apple and Netflix. Netflix’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ was also nominated for the award but didn’t make it. It has long since been in the running for the prestigious award more times than once, but Apple beat it to the top.
Why the win is significant for Apple
Following its launch of the streaming service in November 2019, people were sceptical about Apple TV and how exactly it would manage to make its presence felt in the OTT landscape. Its slate of movies was small and its fan base doubtful, but the win at the Oscars 2022 has changed the game.
Lucas Shaw, an experienced entertainment reporter, tweeted “Everyone at a movie studio seems to have 2 wishes tonight, in this order: 1. I hope we win. 2. I hope Netflix doesn’t win. The willingness to support a win for Apple — perhaps the most powerful company on earth — and not Netflix is pretty interesting.”
Why CODA deserved to win
Representation is a big deal these days, especially in films that speak about people with disabilities. CODA gave the audience what it wanted by casting deaf actors in main roles, thus doing away with the fluff and cookie-cutter that surrounds these roles usually, and going for brutal honestly instead.
Owen Gleiberman, an American film critic said about the movie in his piece for Variety, “CODA,” which features three remarkable deaf actors, is most assuredly a crowd-pleaser, though in this case, I want to be specific about what that means. In many ways, it’s a highly conventional film, with tailored story arcs that crest and resolve just so, and emotional peaks and valleys that touch big fat rounded chords of inspiration.”
Belen Edwards, Entertainment Fellow at Mashable wrote “CODA has cemented itself as one of the most nuanced and compelling portrayals of family from the past year. It sticks with you long after you've seen it, especially it's climactic (and tearjerking) performances of "You're All I Need To Get By" and "Both Sides Now."
Truly a film that has managed to be poignant and at the same time got people wondering if OTT films have just had their big break.