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Existential Binge-Watching: ‘CODA’ was the perfect choice for best picture

You never really know what you’re going to get when the Oscars roll around. The Academy has done some things here and there over recent years to help the award show move along more efficiently, but there are always viral moments waiting to jump out. And while watching Will Smith walk onto the stage and slap Chris Rock wasn’t exactly expected, it seemed in line and made sense to add to these past couple years of COVID-19 chaos for life and the film industry with such a moment.

Putting the craziness of the Academy Awards aside, though, CODA absolutely made the most sense to win best picture this year.

Written and directed by Sian Heder, who won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay this past weekend, CODA is a film full to the brim with heart. It’s not overly flashy, it doesn’t have the big budget effects, but its story is important and one that expertly and calmly tugs at your emotions throughout its runtime. And while it was up against some strong competition, the sincere aura the film creates just feels right to cap off the year after the turmoil the pandemic has brought with it.

Emilia Jones' portrayal as Ruby - the titular “Child of Deaf Adults” - is wonderfully believable and heartfelt in both scenes with her on-screen parents and brother as well as everyone else. And, of course, Troy Kotsur’s win for best supporting actor is more than well deserved. From showing off his knack for profane ASL to conveying so much emotion with just a glance into his eyes as the kind hearted father of the family, he’s a joy to watch every second he’s on screen. The entire cast, truly, gives the film their all.

Not to mention, CODA’s win for best picture is officially historical as it is the first film to be released by a streaming service to claim the coveted Oscar. Amazon took the first nomination nod back in 2016 with Manchester by the Sea and Netflix has tried desperately over the past handful of years - even with both Don’t Look Up and The Power of the Dog up for best picture this year - but Apple TV+ is the first to finally take the top award home for a streaming platform.

CODA also serves as a milestone for the Deaf community in terms of representation in film and the broader entertainment industry. After last year’s recognition of the intense and riveting Sound of Metal, CODA really takes it all the way. Troy Kotsur is now the first male Deaf actor to win an Oscar and only the second Deaf actor or actress after his on-screen wife, Marlee Matlin, won the best actress award back in 1987 for her role in Children of a Lesser God.

This was also the first year in the Academy’s 94-year history that it simultaneously streamed a live feed of the show with American Sign Language interpretation. In addition to the history being made, though, CODA is simply a near perfectly crafted movie for not only true Deaf representation but also as a best picture winner that was so desperately needed now that the film industry is finally starting to come out of the madness of Covid-19.

As mentioned before, it’s not a film that swept the Oscars completely or that was even nominated for a huge amount of categories. But CODA is the definition of a feel good movie and one that’s entirely true and honest in every facet of what it presents. And after a global pandemic, as well as being in the midst of the usually hectic Oscars defined this year by a slap, it felt perfectly fulfilling to end both the awards and the past year of filmmaking with a win for best picture for this lovely and captivating journey of a film.

Jackson Horvat is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.

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