‘CODA’, Sian Heder’s film about a young woman who is the only hearing person in a deaf family has become the big surprise in the race for the Oscar for Best Picture. And little else, because as we will see this production that we will see on Apple TV + only has three scarce nominations, something unusual in a film that competes with heavyweights of the magnitude of ‘The power of the dog’ (12 nominations), ‘Dune’ ( 10 nominations) or ‘Belfast’ (7 nominations).
But… what about ‘CODA’? We are facing a certainly unique film to be competing in the final stretch of the Oscars, but of course, it already comes with a certain prestige earned behind it. Among the most notable of his not inconsiderable career of 55 awards are a couple of BAFTAS (screenplay, supporting actor) and, above all, an excellent range of awards at Sundance (Audience Award, director, Grand Jury Award and US Dramatic Special Jury Award).
Still, they are minor awards compared to the Oscars, where it only competes in the movie, supporting actor, and adapted screenplay categories. The rumor on social networks that it is a clear favorite for the jackpot, over other films with a more consistent award race, such as ‘The power of the dog’, is raising a series of questions around ‘CODA’. Has it been created hype around her artificially? And in any case, what does the whole phenomenon tell us about the Oscars?
The surprise effect. Not that ‘CODA’ is the only movie with a chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture. The favorite, without a doubt, is ‘The power of the dog’, however, Jane Campion’s proposal has some slight obstacle against it. First, it is a Netflix movie, a conflict that the Academy, as the total representative of the establishment of Hollywood, has not finished solving. Second, its character of “author’s work” makes it a production that distances it from the tastes of the majority public. And in that sense, the Oscars are running out of bullets.
On the other hand, ‘CODA’ has gone under the radar at most of the year’s awards, and is now being talked about a lot and very well. That gives it a character of “revelation film” that the Academics like very much. That the one that is “official favorite” does not win the jackpot can serve as a facelift and a bath of freshness for some prizes that urgently need a lifting. ‘CODA’ may be perfect for that rejuvenation operation.
It’s still an Oscar movie. Because on the other hand, we are not talking about a production underground, Rather the complete opposite. Marlee Matlin, the most famous actress in the cast, already won an Oscar in 1986 for ‘Children of a Lesser God’ also playing a deaf woman, since the actress has been deaf since she was 18 months old. But the revelation is Troy Kotsur, her on-screen husband, who is being nominated for every nomination award for his role (including this Oscar) and who at award-winning ceremonies, like the BAFTAs, has drawn attention for its freshness and spontaneity. Again, something that comes in handy for the Academy.
The needs of the Oscars. We commented that the prizes need a bath of freshness and “juvenile films”. It is not for less: in 2021, they had the lowest audience in their history, 9.85 million viewers, a total collapse compared to the previous year, where they had 23.6 million viewers… which had already been counted as a minimum historical. It is true that these are complicated times: COVID is compounded by a global disinterest in this type of ceremonies: in 2021, the Golden Globes, the Grammys and the Emmys also touched historic audience lows.
Enjoyable movies. How to get that revival of interest? Certainly not with black and white films (this year there are two nominees for best film!) or auteur cinema, but with an emotional film with heart, but also with touches of comedy and perfectly accessible. It’s not the first time it’s happened: we all remember the cases of ‘Full Monty’ or ‘Between drinks’, which were talked about a lot precisely for that reason: small, direct, that work at the box office and that put the Oscars and their ability to surprise again in the conversation.
In addition, ‘CODA’ manages, in a simple and accessible way, to convey to the viewer the day-to-day problems of deaf people. With what the intentions of the Oscars for a few years to commit to diversity and representation in the films that it nominates and awards is also covered. Everyone wins: facing the gallery and with an elbow to the viewer, to show that the Oscars can also be rolled up. effect”How do you do, fellow kids“on the horizon?
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism