How 'CODA' Paved the Way for Streamers to Shine in Prestigious Award Shows | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

How ‘CODA’ Paved the Way for Streamers to Shine in Prestigious Award Shows

Since the inception of cinema, awards season has always been dubbed as one of the most important occasions in the entertainment industry. Aside from the special moment when the best and brightest in the industry come together to celebrate each other and their love for cinema, award show organizers are given a huge responsibility to carefully choose and bestow the highest recognition to the masterpieces that have graced the silver screen that year.

For this reason, prestigious award shows such as the Oscars, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and BAFTAs, have a meticulously detailed set of rules and standards that they adhere to when selecting films that deserve recognition on the world stage. One of these rules strictly imposes that these films must have at least a week-long theatrical run for them to be eligible for an Oscar.

The Academy had to revise its rules to accommodate these unprecedented changes, opening more opportunities

This requirement posed a huge problem for streaming platforms because the films they release are instantly disqualified with the exception of some who had hybrid theatrical and virtual releases. However, since theatres closed down during the pandemic and all film releases were done virtually, the Academy had to revise its rules to accommodate these unprecedented changes, opening more opportunities for other films to qualify.

This became a blessing in disguise for films produced by streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple TV. In fact, CODA won three Oscars including the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 94th Academy Awards – awards that are usually bagged by major studios. Let’s take a further look into the factors that contributed to CODA’s remarkable success and how it will pave the way for streaming platforms to get more recognition in the big leagues.

From Zero to Hero

As we all know, director Sian Heder’s CODA (2021) won not one but three of the most prestigious awards at the Oscars, marking it the first feat for a streaming platform. This truly came as a shock to the industry because nobody had an inkling that a low-budget, independent, and humble film that didn’t really get some buzz would get such distinction. Not to mention, it was up against strong Netflix contenders such as The Power of the Dog (2021) and Don’t Look Up (2021).

How 'CODA' Paved the Way for Streamers to Shine in Prestigious Award Shows | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

“And why would they? With a modest $10 million budget, it premiered at a fully virtual Sundance Film Festival, with all festivalgoers sitting at home on their couches. That happened 14 months before these Oscars, which is an extraordinarily long time for a movie to keep picking up steam. (There’s been an entire other Oscars since then.) No Sundance premiere has ever won Best Picture,” via Vox.

No Sundance premiere has ever won Best Picture

Perhaps, the secret to its success lies in the fact that it was a simple, humble, and genuine story that the world exactly needed. “CODA” which stands for “Child of Deaf Adults,” chronicles the life and struggles of a hearing and healthy teenager who is torn between helping her deaf parents and brother’s fishing business or leaving home to pursue her dreams of becoming a singer.

While the premise is already promising, the filmmakers raised the bar by actually hiring deaf actors Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin, and Daniel Durant to bring the characters to life. The film didn’t need to try so hard to be anything because they allowed the actors to bring their real-life experiences into the story, making it effortlessly authentic, powerful, and moving. The story was packed with heartwarming moments that not only made us shed a tear, but most importantly, taught us how to empathize with the challenges that the deaf community goes through on a daily basis.

It fully opened our eyes to a social issue that has been kept in the dark for so long. It’s worth noting that the majority of the scenes used sign language and the moments of complete muteness were so evocative that they made you feel what it’s like to be in their shoes. It perfectly honored and represented the deaf community in such an impactful way that our lives and theirs have been changed for good. This is exactly what the Academy is standing and fighting for in this new era of diverse, equal, and inclusive storytelling.

A Place Among the Stars

In recent years, streaming platforms have been producing top-tier films that have gotten the attention of audiences and industry professionals. Films produced and distributed by streaming giants such as Roma (2018), The Irishman (2019), Marriage Story (2019), Sound of Metal (2019), Mank (2020), Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021) all dominated the award shows in the past years. In 2022 alone, Netflix has garnered “27 Oscar nominations for 10 titles including The Power of the Dog, Don’t Look Up, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, and Tick, Tick… Boom!

Whether you’re a traditionalist or not, we have to admit that streaming platforms have played a huge and important role in our lives as we endured those difficult times in isolation in the past two years. Industry professionals have defied the limits of filmmaking to tell us stories that are not only entertaining but also aim to positively influence our society and change it for the better.

While we have gotten used to the spectacle/ extravagance that studio-produced films possess, the win for Apple TV’s CODA (2021) sends a strong message that films released by streaming platforms are as extraordinary, if not better. This goes to show that the secret to success or great storytelling doesn’t always lie in the million-dollar special effects or having the most famous celebrities on board. Nowadays, people want more relatable and genuine films that help us learn more about ourselves, the people around us, and the world we live in. One thing’s for sure, we are heading into a more exciting and remarkable moment in cinema, especially for streaming platforms.

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