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Apple Original Film ‘CODA’ Makes History, Winning Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards

28 Mar

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Last night at the 94th Academy Awards (Oscars), Apple were honoured with three Oscars for its Apple Original Film ‘CODA,’ in a historic evening for film. The winners were announced at a ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 27th during which awards were presented to Troy Kotsur for Best Supporting Actor, Siân Heder for Best Adapted Screenplay and to the cast and crew of ’CODA’ as it accepted the Oscar for Best Picture.

With an Academy Award for Best Picture, ‘CODA’ became the first film from a major streaming service to win the Academy’s highest honour. The win also marks the first film to win Best Picture by a predominantly Deaf cast, the first win for a Sundance Film Festival premiere, and the third film directed by a woman to be awarded the film industry’s top honour.

Troy Kotsur also made history by becoming the first Deaf Man to win an acting Oscar and the first performer to be recognised by The Academy since his ‘CODA’ co-star Marlee Matlin took home a Best Actress gong in 1987 for ‘Children of a Lesser God’. In a classy move, the win was revealed by Academy Award Winner Youn Yuh-Jung first in ASL before Troy Kotsur gave one of the most personal and moving speeches of the evening.

Paying tribute to his father Kotsur said “My dad, he was the best signer in our family, but he was in a car accident and he became paralyzed from the neck down, and he no longer was able to sign,” Kotsur said in his acceptance speech, delivered in American Sign Language. “Dad, I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero.” Following his tribute Troy Kotsur dedicated the win to the Deaf community, CODA community and disabled community. “This is our moment” he said.

Female writer and director Siân Heder took home her first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and makes Heder the first woman to win the category on her own since Emma Thompson in 1995. CODA (Child Of Deaf Adult) was adapted from the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier written by Victoria Bedos. 

In her acceptance speech (accompanied by an ASL interpreter), Siân Heder celebrated her first Oscar and nomination by paying tribute to the filmmaking process. “This was an independent film and incredibly hard to get made so I want to thank my team, my producers and all of you for believing in me, and how I wanted to make this movie,” she said before acknowledging the film’s journey to critical acclaim. “I want to thank Sundance for starting this journey. I want to thank Apple for being amazing partners on this ride. Writing and making this movie was truly life changing as an artist and a human being.”

The final award of the evening was for Best Picture, presented by Liza Minnelli and Lady Gaga. With the Best Picture win ‘CODA’ also became the first film to win the coveted award without directing or editing nominations, and the first to win with three or less nominations since 1932’s ‘Grand Hotel’. 

Celebrated by Deaf applause from a star-studded audience, Producer Philippe Rousselet opened the emotional acceptance speech, “Thank you to the Academy for letting our CODA make history tonight,” he said. “Our cast and crew were supposed to be at 4 a.m. at sea fishing when we were told a giant storm was about to hit us. It was only the beginning of our problems. But you’ve kept the boat afloat and you’ve been the best captain a producer can ever dream of, really” he said, thanking the films director Siân Heder.

Rousselet was accompanied onstage by the film’s stars Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Emilia Jones, Daniel Durant and Eugenio Derbez and Amy Forsyth amongst others, who were also thanked: “You guys have made such a wonderful and loving family onscreen, but also offscreen and everybody wants to be a part of it. And contrary to you Ruby [Emilia Jones’s character], no one seems to want to leave it.” Fellow producer Patrick Wachsberger then thanked the Academy for “recognizing a movie of love and family in this difficult time.” 

“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. “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. “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.”

Last night was an evening full of incident, but one that will be remembered for positivity, love, connection and a further step towards diversity, inclusion, representation and acceptance. Having followed the film’s success since its virtual debut at Sundance in 2021 (followed by a $25 million acquisition by Apple), I’m delighted to see the crowd-please continue to gain both critical acclaim and praise from film lovers across the globe. 'CODA' is the perfect example of the type of output I hope to see from Apple going into the future. A powerful and joyous moment for everyone involved.

The full list of honours from the 94th Academy Awards follow, along with links to their listings within the TV app:

Best Picture
Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers

Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain
'The Eyes of Tammy Faye'

Actor in a Leading Role
Will Smith
'King Richard'

'The Power of the Dog'
Jane Campion

Music (Original Song)
“No Time To Die” from 'No Time to Die'
Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

Documentary Feature
'Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)'
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Screenplay by Siân Heder

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Written by Kenneth Branagh

Costume Design
Jenny Beavan

International Feature Film
'Drive My Car' (Japan)
A C&I Entertainment/Culture Entertainment/Bitters End Production

Actor in a Supporting Role
Troy Kotsur

Animated Feature Film
Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer

Visual Effects
Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer

Greig Fraser

Actress in a Supporting Role
Ariana DeBose
'West Side Story'

Makeup and Hairstyling
'The Eyes of Tammy Faye'
Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh

Production Design
Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos

Film Editing
Joe Walker

Music (Original Score)
Hans Zimmer

Live Action Short Film
'The Long Goodbye'
Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed

Animated Short Film
'The Windshield Wiper'
Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez

Documentary Short Subject
'The Queen of Basketball'
Ben Proudfoot

Best Sound
Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett

Sigmund Judge
Sigmund is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of ScreenTimes where he began his Apple TV coverage in 2016. With an unwavering passion for Apple, storytelling and storytellers alike, he writes about Apple TV with a focus on the arts, development, tvOS, home theatre and accessibility. Sigmund also co-host’s Magic Rays of Light, a weekly podcast exploring the world of Apple TV and the many talents bringing our screens to life.