Coda: A Review

An Academy Award Nominated Film About Finding Your Voice In A Deaf Family.

Update: CODA wins the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay ( Sian Heder) and Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur)!

Coda is based on the 2014 French Film Le Famille Belier by Victoria Bedos and stars an aspiring teenage singer who is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA). She is the only person in the family who can hear and so she plays a vital role in the family fishing business. CODA is also a musical term. It’s a musical notation that signifies the end of a repeat is within a section not at the end.

On concept alone, this is the kind of project that breaks through the nearly insurmountable odds of an Independent Film finding distribution with a major studio. And indeed it has. Streaming is changing the world of film and television as it once was just 5 years ago and making more great stories available to the public right from the comfort of our homes.

CODA also stands out as the first movie to be nominated in the Oscar Race featuring a deaf cast. This brings much needed recognition to a profoundly handicapped subset of the population. On this point alone it stands out and is a winner no matter what happens this Sunday.

CODA was made by Vendome and Pathe’ for a reported 10 million and stars real life deaf actors (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur). It debuted at The Sundance Film Festival in September 2021 and has since won two SAG Awards, some BAFTAs and many others on the Festival circuit. It was picked up for exclusive distribution by Apple TV.

Kotsur (is a deaf actor and drama teacher for the deaf in Los Angeles) is up for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the movie is also up for Best Picture and best adapted screenplay by Sian Heder. Everyone is great in it. It’s wonderful to see Marlee Matlin back. She made her debut with the late, great John Hurt in Children of a Lesser God released by Paramount in 1986. Hurt and Matlin won best actor and best actress in that movie with best screenplay for Mark Medoff.

The music teacher is brilliantly played by one of my personal favorites, Mexican comedian and movie star Eugenio Derbez. The starring hearing female and singer (Ruby Rossi) is played by Emilia Jones. Emilia is a real singer/songwriter from England. This is no doubt a breakout role for her. She has an amazing voice.

I won’t go through the synopsis because summaries abound on the Internet. The film dramatizes the incredible rift between the hearing and the deaf and the sometimes heartbreaking decisions families must make to allow each of its members to live their own destinies. It’s humble, sweet and full of love. I highly recommend it as a heartfelt, family friendly film. You can watch it now on Apple TV.

Coda isn’t a big Hollywood movie but there’s no question in my mind that it deserves to be a contender for Best Picture. We’ll see how the Academy feels at the Oscars, tomorrow night at 7:00 pm on ABC.

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