‘CODA’ triumphs at Oscars
Tinseltown’s biggest night began with a performance by pop megastar Beyonce and touched on politics with a moment of silence over the Ukraine crisis.
“CODA,” a feel-good indie drama starring deaf actors in lead roles, had been presumed a longshot for Hollywood’s biggest prize until very recently but pulled off a remarkable late surge to emerge triumphantly.
The film bagged the historic prize for Apple TV+, a relative newcomer in a streaming market dominated by rivals like Netflix.
“Thank you to the Academy for letting our ’CODA’ make history tonight,” said producer Philippe Rousselet.
Taking its title from the acronym for a child of deaf adult, the movie also won for best adapted screenplay, and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, who plays the father of a teenage girl who can hear and wants to pursue a career in music.
Kotsur dedicated his golden statuette to the deaf and disabled communities. “This is our moment,” he said.
Jessica Chastain won best actress for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” in which she played a real-life televangelist who became an unlikely champion for the LGBTQ community.
“We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country... in times like this, I think of Tammy and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love,” she said.
Until recently it had appeared that dark, psychological Western “The Power of the Dog” was fated to earn Netflix its much-coveted first best picture statuette.
As it turned out, the film won only best director for Jane Campion.
She is only the third woman to do so in Oscars history, just a year after Chloe Zhao became the second (“Nomadland”). Kathryn Bigelow was the first for “The Hurt Locker.”
Kenneth Branagh’s childhood-inspired “Belfast,” another presumed best picture frontrunner, triumphed for best original screenplay.
Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress for playing Anita in “West Side Story,” and Disney’s “Encanto” was named best animated feature.
DeBose, who first made her name on Broadway, celebrated her historic win for “an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina.”
Yvett Merino, producer of Colombia-set “Encanto,” said she was “so proud to be a part of a film that put beautiful, diverse characters in front and center.”
“Summer of Soul” won best documentary for musician Questlove’s first movie about the huge “Black Woodstock” festival that took place in 1969 Harlem.
Japan’s “Drive My Car,” a Japanese arthouse film based on a short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami, was named best international film.
Beyonce began the televised broadcast with her nominated tune from “King Richard,” from the Compton courts where Serena and Venus trained as girls.
But the award for best original song went to Billie Eilish for her James Bond theme song “No Time to Die.”
In another musical highlight, viral sensation “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was performed live, with Megan Thee Stallion adding an Oscars-themed verse to the “Encanto” hit song.
Hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, and Regina Hall kicked off proceedings inside the Dolby Theater, where the Oscars returned after a year away due to the pandemic, with an opening skit that poked fun at everything from sexism in Hollywood to Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill.
“This year, the Academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man,” said Schumer.
Sykes added: “We’re going to have a great night tonight. And for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night.”
Sci-fi epic “Dune” ended the night with the most wins, earning six in craft and technical categories -- best sound, score, editing, production design, visual effects, and cinematography.
The annual “in memoriam” paid tribute to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot dead by Alec Baldwin in a tragic accident on the set of Western “Rust” last year.
Recently deceased Hollywood greats also honored in the segment included Sidney Poitier, the first, and for many decades, the only Black man to win best actor.
The gala held a moment’s silence for Ukraine, while presenter Mila Kunis, who was born in the country, said it was “impossible not to be moved” by the resilience of “those facing such devastation.”
Several attendees wore blue ribbons reading #WithRefugees.