Sometimes, the right movie wins Best Picture. It’s rare. Hollywood politics, strategic marketing campaigns, and weighted votes can lead to film fanatics scratching their heads at the end of a lengthy ceremony and going, “Really? Green Book? Huh.” But this year was different. This year, when a truly shocking and unpredictable Academy Awards ceremony drew to a close, the right movie won. A heartwarming, bond-forming, supportive movie about spreading your wings and soaring thanks to the love of your family prevailed. Coda was named Best Picture of the Year, and in my opinion, all was right with the world.
It wasn’t going to go down like this. The Oscar race is truly a marathon, with a handful of features getting the “frontrunner” status at different periods of the competition. Stream all of the Best Picture nominees, if you haven’t yet. There was a lot of betting money on the tender Western The Power of the Dog, and anyone who picked the film might have felt confident once Jane Campion took the Oscar for Best Director.
But Coda prevailed, snatching two other wins during the evening for Troy Kotsur (Best Supporting Actor) and Best Adapted Screenplay. And the movie made history in the process, becoming the first movie in Academy history to come from a streaming service – AppleTV+, in this instance – and go on to win Best Picture. The streaming services have been coming on strong in recent years, with Netflix and Amazon Prime pushing hard to earn Oscar nominations and wins. Best Picture trophies have eluded them to this point, and AppleTV+ now has the distinction of being the first.
The independent film centers on a deaf family learning that their daughter – who has the ability to hear – wants to apply for a musical conservatory and pursue her talents for singing. It’s a small story, but an emotional honest one, giving us underdogs to root for, talents to appreciate, and perhaps most important, an underrepresented demographic to shine a brighter spotlight on. Easily one of the most beautiful moments in the Oscars telecast on Sunday night was the auditorium filled with Hollywood talents all signing a celebration for Troy Kotsur as he made his way to the stage to accept his Oscar.
Representation continues to be a strong area of focus at both the major studios and the streaming services, and a win for Coda in the Best Picture race proves that stories about underrepresented communities have as much drawing power and relatability as any tale, especially when they are told with the humor and heart that can be found in Coda. It really is a special film, and easily one of the best AppleTV+ movies available on the streaming service, so if you haven’t yet made time to see it, see why it is one of the 2022 Academy Award winners.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.