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Apple TV+ drama 'CODA' wins best picture
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2022 10:50 PM CDT
Updated Mar 28, 2022 3:03 AM CDT
For First Time, a Streaming Service Won Oscars' Top Award
Lupita Nyong'o arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

After a movie year often light on crowds, the Academy Awards named an unabashed crowd-pleaser, the deaf family drama CODA, best picture Sunday, handing Hollywood’s top award to a streaming service for the first time. Sian Heder’s CODA, which first premiered at a virtual Sundance Film Festival in winter 2021, started out as an underdog but gradually emerged as the Oscars’ feel-good favorite. It also had one very deep-pocketed backer in Apple TV+, which scored its first best picture Academy Award on Sunday, less than three years after launching the service, the AP reports. It also handed another near-miss defeat to Netflix, the veteran streamer that for years has tried vainly to score best picture. Its best chance, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, came in with a leading 12 nominations.

But CODA rode a wave of goodwill driven by its cast including Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, and Daniel Durant. It’s the first film with a largely deaf cast to win best picture. CODA managed that despite being one of the least-nominated films with only three coming into Sunday. Not since 1932’s Grand Hotel has a movie won best picture with fewer than four nods. Up until the shocking moment when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage, the show had been running fairly smoothly. Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina and the first openly LGBTQ actor to win an Academy Award for supporting actress, while Troy Kotsur became the first male deaf actor to win an acting award. Jane Campion won the best director Oscar for The Power of the Dog, her open-plains psychodrama that twisted and upended western conventions, becoming only the third woman to win best director.

Best actress went to Jessica Chastain, who won her first Oscar for her empathetic portrayal of the televangelist Tammy Faye in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a movie she also produced. After record-low ratings and a pandemic-marred 2021 show, producers this year turned to one of the biggest stars around—Beyonce´—to kick off an Oscars intended to revive the awards' place in pop culture. After an introduction from Venus and Serena Williams, Beyonce´ performed her King Richard nominated song, “Be Alive,” in an elaborately choreographed performance from a lime-colored, open-air stage in Compton, where the Williams sisters grew up. Hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, and Regina Hall then began the telecast from the Dolby Theatre.

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Sykes, Schumer, and Hall breezily joked through prominent Hollywood issues like pay equity—they said three female hosts were “cheaper than one man"—the Lady Gaga drama that Sykes called “House of Random Accents," the state of the Golden Globes (now relegated to the memoriam package, said Sykes) and Leonardo DiCaprio's girlfriends. Their most pointed political barb came at the end of their routine, in which they promised a great night and then alluded to Florida's “Don't Say Gay” bill. “And for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night,” said Sykes. The Ukrainian-born Mila Kunis led a 30-second moment of silence for Ukraine. Some stars, like Sean Penn, had lobbied the academy to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak at the ceremony. (Complete list of winners here.)

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