Apple TV+ on Sunday became the first streaming service to win the Best Picture Oscar, for “CODA.” Earlier in the evening, “CODA” actor Troy Kotsur became the first man who is deaf to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His “CODA” costar, Marlee Matlin, was the first deaf actor to win an Oscar back in 1987, receiving the Best Actress award for “Children of a Lesser God.” “CODA” Writer and Director Siân Heder also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole hearing member of a deaf family – a CODA, child of deaf adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and soon finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams.
“On behalf of everyone at Apple, we are so grateful to the Academy for the honors bestowed on ‘CODA’ this evening,” said Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video, in a statement. “We join our teams all over the world in celebrating Siân, Troy, the producers, and the entire cast and crew for bringing such a powerful representation of the Deaf community to audiences, and breaking so many barriers in the process. It has been so rewarding to share this life-affirming, vibrant story, which reminds us of the power of film to bring the world together.”
“What an incredible journey it has been since the moment we first saw ‘CODA’ to today’s historic recognition from the Academy,” said Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video, in a statement. “It has been a true joy to witness the positive impact on humanity that this story and its performances have had worldwide. We send our warmest congratulations to Siân; Troy; the cast; the creative team; producers Patrick, Philippe, and Fabrice; and everyone who helped bring inclusion and accessibility to the forefront through this remarkable film.”
Daniel Arkin for NBC News:
Apple’s triumph on Hollywood’s biggest stage is a major moment for a film industry that has been dramatically transformed by the rise of direct-to-consumer streaming platforms and the growing popularity of at-home entertainment.
The best picture award was accepted by “CODA” producers Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also attended the ceremony.
The big win for “CODA” is a milestone for the representation of deaf people in the entertainment industry as well as a potential turning point for Apple TV+, a relatively new service that is trying to position itself as a destination for top-shelf original films in a crowded digital marketplace.
“CODA” followed a charmed road to the Academy Awards. The film was an independently made, international co-production between the U.S., France and Canada, with a script adapted from the 2014 French dramedy “La Famille Bélier.”
Heder’s film premiered at the virtual Sundance Film Festival in 2021 and drew rave reviews, with particular praise reserved for Kotsur’s soulful supporting turn. Apple acquired worldwide streaming rights for $25 million — a Sundance record.