Sian Heder's heartstring-tugging family drama CODA has been rapidly gaining momentum in recent weeks thanks to its SAG and PGA wins. But is it the challenger to topple The Power of the Dog? Here, we assess its Oscar chances.
Winner in four categories at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize, Best Director, Best Ensemble and Audience Award), Sian Heder’s film gives Belfast and King Richard a run for their money as the awards season’s top crowdpleaser. Heartfelt, moving and reaching the right note of euphoria in its final scenes, CODA (which stands for Child of Deaf Adults) is an aspirational tale that stands out from similar dramas because three of its four central family members are deaf. It leaves Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) having to be the conduit between her family and the rest of the world – in this case the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing community where they live and work – but also dedicating her life so far to the family’s livelihood. With regulations increasing the pressure on fishing-boat owners, Ruby is more needed than ever. But she longs to break away and pursue her passion for singing.
Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin (previous Academy Award winner for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God) play Ruby’s sex-obsessed parents Frank and Jackie, while and Daniel Durant is her older brother Leo. And the film’s best scenes involve their interactions. There are constant – and often hilarious – conflicts over notions of personal space; Ruby’s wearing earphones in the house is considered rude, but Leo’s sharing pictures of who he might hook up with on Tinder is seen as a communal activity. And as Ruby begins to gravitate away from the family, it’s Kotsur’s performance that conveys the film’s powerful emotional undertow. He received the Best Supporting Actor award at the BAFTAs and is now seen as the frontrunner for the Academy Awards. Sian Heder also picked up Best Adapted Screenplay, which was a surprise. Heder is nominated in that category again at the Oscars and the film is up for Best Picture. CODA is nipping at the heels of The Power of the Dog for the Academy Awards’ top prize – it’s had a last-minute surge thanks to its wins at SAG and the PGAs. The awards season now closes with the possibility of a few surprises.
Best Actress, Emilia Jones
Best Supporting Actor, Troy Kotsur – WINNER
Best Adapted Screenplay – WINNER
Best Supporting Actor, Troy Kotsur
Best Adapted Screenplay