‘CODA’ Wins 3 Oscars, Including First Best Picture for Apple

Apple TV+ made history Sunday night as the first streaming service to win an Oscar for best picture when “CODA” took the top prize. The film’s title — an acronym for Children of Deaf Adults — won in all three categories in which it was nominated, sending Apple on its first-ever Academy Award victory lap. With its total of six nominations, Apple TV+ was a dark horse, as was “CODA,” upstaging Netflix and “The Power of the Dog,” the most nominated distributor and film, with 27 and 12 nods, respectively. Netflix earned just one Oscar, for Jane Campion’s direction of “The Power of the Dog.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior vice president of services Eddy Cue were in attendance at the Dolby Theatre Sunday to cheer their nominees at the 94th Academy Awards. The coming-of-age tale also earned best adapted screenplay trophy for writer-director Siân Heder and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, the first deaf performer to top that category (and the second in Oscar history to win, following “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin’s best actress triumph for the 1986 film “Children of a Lesser God”).

Apple acquired worldwide rights to “CODA” for a record $25 million last year at Sundance, creating a controversy when word began circulating that its supersized offer triggered a “buyback clause” affecting indie distributors who already bought the rights in various territories, per IndieWire.

“The iPhone maker saw something in the movie, about the hearing daughter of an all-deaf family, that few others did: an Oscar contender,” suggests The Wall Street Journal, calling the unprecedented purchase price “pocket change for a company with a $2.8 trillion valuation.”

“Cook has acknowledged that the tech company is prioritizing prestige over profits for its streaming originals. ‘We don’t make purely financial decisions about the content [on Apple TV+],’ the Apple chief told analysts on the company’s January 27 earnings call. ‘We try to find great content that has a reason for being,” Variety reports.

Apple gave “CODA,” which WSJ says cost less than $10 million to produce, a limited U.S. theatrical run in August, the month it premiered as an “Apple Original” on the streaming service.

In hindsight, the steep acquisition price “now appears to have been a down payment on an Oscar campaign that has upended the race for best picture and introduced a new tech giant as a serious Hollywood player,” WSJ writes.

Apple’s three additional nominations were for director Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Amazon Studios was shut out despite four nominations, including three acting nominations for “Being the Ricardos” stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem and J.K. Simmons.

Apple TV+ Just Won Best Picture. Everything Is Different Now, Wired, 3/27/22
Apple’s ‘Quality Over Quantity’ Approach Pays Off at Oscars, The Wall Street Journal, 3/28/22

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