The movie, released by Apple+ TV, is the first Best Picture winner distributed by a streaming service.
Troy Kostur, who plays a deaf fisherman in the film, took home the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, becoming only the second Deaf actor – and the first male – to receive an Oscar for acting. His CODA costar Marlee Matlin was the first Deaf winner, taking the award for her performance in the 1986 film Children of a Lesser God.
As Kostur accepted his award, many audience members stood and shook their hands in a gesture of silent applause often used in the Deaf community. The film has also received wide acclaim for its choice to center the lives and culture of Deaf people and to use Deaf actors to portray the film’s central family.
Director Sian Heder won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. CODA is an American adaptation of a French film called La Famille Belier. When approached about working on the picture, Heder proposed setting her version in Gloucester, a city she knew well from spending summers there as a child.
The film, which sparked a record-setting bidding war at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of a tightknit Deaf family. She is a high school senior and helps out on the family fishing boat. But when she discovers her talent and passion for singing, she must decide whether to stay in the family business after graduation or pursue a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Many North Shore locations appear in the movie, from the state fish pier and Pratty’s bar in Gloucester to Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center. Several locals also have cameos or small roles in the film.