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CODA has been named best picture, beating out the likes of Belfast, Drive My Car and Power of the Dog at the 2022 Academy Awards. It’s a historic win for a film that brings Deaf culture, and Deaf actors, to the forefront.
Written and directed by Sian Heder, CODA is based on the 2014 French movie La Familia Belier. The English-language remake centers on Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of a Deaf family, who struggles to balance family obligations and her love of music.
“CODA does have a double meaning in the title because it’s Children of Deaf Adults, but it’s also the end of a piece of music,” director Sian Heder told NPR’s Here and Now. “It’s a story about the end of childhood.”
Distributed by Apple TV+, it is also the first best picture win for a streaming service. The film earned three of Apple TV+’s six Oscar nominations, and won each one: best picture, best adapted screenplay for Sian Heder, and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, who joins his co-star Marlee Matlin as the only Deaf actors ever win Oscars for acting.
Streaming studios have been building momentum in the years since Amazon Studios Manchester by the Sea made waves in 2017 with the first nomination for best picture for a streaming studio. Their increased presence has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many moviegoers unable to attend local cinemas, and movie distributors began increasingly streaming films shortly after their theatrical opening. Eight of the ten Best Picture nominees were available on streaming services in the weeks leading up to the award ceremony.
While Oscar voters have been hesitant to accept streaming services into the fold, the growing number of honors garnered by these studios may reflect a new stage in the movie industry – one no longer reliant on brick-and-mortar theaters.