“CODA”, the heartwarming movie about a deaf family with a hearing daughter, has won the prestigious best picture prize at the Oscars.
Sunday’s win for CODA marked the first time a streaming service took home the film industry’s biggest prize.
“CODA” was released by Apple TV+, which beat Netflix Inc’s contender “The Power of the Dog” and other entries from traditional Hollywood studios.
Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli presented the award to the film, which follows teenage Ruby – who can hear – as she juggles pursuing her musical ambitions with her family’s dependence on her to communicate.
Deaf actors feature in several lead roles.
“I really want to thank the academy for recognizing a movie of love and family at this difficult time that we need today,” producer Patrick Wachsberger said in front of the film’s cast stood on stage.
“CODA” managed to take home the coveted prize 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.
Earlier, a 94th Academy Awards that steadily maintained a buoyant spirit was rocked when best actor winner Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock onstage over a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock referenced the 1997 movie “G I Jane,” in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head.
Smith slapped Rock in what at first appeared to be a scripted joke. But the theatre turned sombre moments later when Smith, back in his seat, shouted back, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth”.
The comment was silenced during the live US broadcast on Walt Disney Co’s ABC.
Smith later apologised to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and to his fellow nominees as he tearfully accepted the Oscar for best actor for playing the father of Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard”.
“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father,” he said, “just like they said about Richard Williams.”
Jessica Chastain landed the best actress award for playing TV evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”.
In other awards, Jane Campion won the Oscar for best director for her dark Western “Power of the Dog”.
Campion, who had been the first woman ever twice nominated in the category (previously for 1993’s “The Piano”), is just the third woman to win best director. It is also the first time the directing award has ever gone to women in back-to-back years after “Nomadland” filmmaker Chloe Zhao won last year.
Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf man to win an Oscar, earning best supporting actor for his role in “CODA”.
Kotsur played Frank Rossi, the father of a teenager who struggles to help her family’s fishing business while pursuing her own aspirations in music.
“This is amazing to be here on this journey. I cannot believe I am here,” Kotsur said in a heartfelt speech delivered in sign language as he accepted the supporting actor honour.
He dedicated his golden statuette to the deaf and disabled communities.
“This is our moment,” he said.
Supporting actress went to Ariana DeBose for playing the spirited Anita, who sings “America” in Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story”.
DeBose, who first made her name on Broadway, celebrated her historic win for “an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina”.
Disney’s “Encanto” was named best animated feature, while “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.