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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: Don’t Underestimate the Power of ‘CODA’

It’s funny, depending on the day, I feel like summertime updates to my Academy Award predictions are either superfluous or vital. Frankly, the truth resides somewhere in between (and is kind of ironic to be pondering here on Friday the 13th). We still don’t have any true idea of what the awards season will be like, but at the same time, re-arranging the dance card feels like trying to solve a puzzle. Eventually, we’ll get a sense of the mood Oscar is in, as I’ve mentioned previously, but right now is still a waiting game. Nothing that’s been released so far, or really even played at the Cannes Film Festival, has moved the needle in a significant way (give or take The French Dispatch). Well, if you think back to earlier in the year, a notable exception may present itself…

Today, as you might have gathered, I want to focus on CODA, not the least of which because it hits theaters and Apple TV+ today. After blowing everyone away at the Sundance Film Festival, it debuts this weekend, potentially without too much fanfare. While some on social media are proclaiming it already dead on arrival and blaming Apple, I’m thinking differently. I actually believe this slow play will be beneficial to its Oscar potential. Early frontrunners have targets on their back, so Sian Heder‘s wonderful crowd pleaser can remain the sort of little film that could for longer into the season. There is where this movie will make its mark.

Emilia Jones appears in CODA by Siân Heder, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

My review of CODA (here) from Sundance was part of the initial chorus of raves. This is just one such paragraph from it:

CODA is phenomenal. Writer/director Sian Heder is able to mix comedy and drama with aplomb, never once tripping over the cliches of the genre. It’s supremely confident work, from start to finish. Even when the narrative goes to some familiar places, the jokes and the situations are unique. Of course, casting deaf actors and actresses lends an extra bit of honesty and realism to things, though it also makes for some even funnier moments than expected. Who knew that ASL could be used to such comedic benefits?

So, where exactly can CODA make a play? Well, you’re about to see where it resides in my predictions, but I legitimately think it can become the one to beat, before all is said and done. If the flick gets into Best Picture, Best Director and/or Best Adapted/Original Screenplay (depending on its ultimate category placement) for Heder, perhaps Best Supporting Actress for Marlee Matlin, and somewhere below the line, it’s got the nominations needed to pull off a win. Maybe that’s a long shot, but I believe this film has what it takes. Time will tell, but don’t be surprised if it’s ranked even higher when the next update comes along…

A still from CODA by Siân Heder, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Prior updates herehere, and here have suggested a wide open race across the board, and that remains the case, even given what I’ve said about CODA above. Basically, anything can happen, at least for now. Next month with bring the fall film festival season, and movies will make their moves then. Personally, I’ll be on the ground at both the New York Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival (my first time at TIFF) over the net month or so, so stay tuned for coverage there…

You can once again see my Oscar predictions (no longer quite year in advance picks) here at Awards Radar. Take a gander and be sure to watch out for the next update. They’re going to start coming in hot and heavy before long. Enjoy!

Let us know what you think of my predictions and stay tuned for another update soon!


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2 years ago

Just a heads up – it’s an adapted screenplay, not original. It’s a remake of a French movie.


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