Despite the usual snubs, flubs and surprises, the Academy Award nominations were actually pretty solid this year. In addition to honoring great performances like Penelope Cruz in "Parallel Mothers," Andrew Garfield in "Tick, Tick … Boom!" and Denzel Washington in "The Tragedy of Macbeth," the Academy also rounded up an appreciably diverse list of Best Picture nominees.
All this week we’ll be spotlighting the 10 films nominated for the big prize. And since we could all use more stuff to watch these days, we’ve also rounded up recommendations for movies (and TV shows) that echo or influence them in some way — all of which are streaming (for free!) on Tubi. Next up: Sian Heder’s inspiring, barrier-smashing drama "CODA."
The premise: "Gifted with a voice that her parents can’t hear, seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones), is the sole hearing member of a deaf family — a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams."
The details: PG-13. 111 minutes. Written and directed by Sian Heder.
The nominations: In addition to its Best Picture nod, "CODA" is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Sian Heder) and Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur).
Our critic’s take: A retro crowdpleaser with limits
Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant in "CODA," now streaming on Apple TV+ (Apple TV+)
The modest family drama "CODA" straddles two decidedly different eras of filmmaking. On the retro side, it’s an old-fashioned Sundance Film Festival crowdpleaser that won a Grand Jury prize and was snapped up by a big distributor. On the more contemporary side, the buyer in that deal was Apple, which has turned the film into a showcase for their expanding streaming service.
It turns out that the middle of the Venn diagram between the 1990s indie boom and the 2020s streaming boom is a project that resembles a sweet, well-intentioned, well-acted TV movie. That’s not necessarily a dig: "CODA" may impart certain warm life lessons, but boasts some cultural specificity to high-schooler Ruby (Emilia Jones) and her status as the only hearing member of a Deaf family.
Ruby struggles to assert her independence from her earthy father (Oscar-nominee Troy Kotsur) and mother (Marlee Matlin), spending most of her time helping the family with their fishing business while she shyly pines to dedicate more of herself to singing. With the encouragement of brusque music teacher Mr. V (Eugenio Derbez), she starts to find her voice — and leave her family’s orbit.
The plot points are relatively predictable. The steadiness of the execution is, paradoxically, less so; writer-director Sian Heder, adapting a French film from 2014, seems less thirsty for both laughter and tears than plenty of lesser Sundance-coms. The actors, especially Jones and Kotsur, are a major asset, grounding the uplift in emotional reality.
It’s a shame that the movie itself is so antiseptic, struggling to exceed the bare minimum of visual interest in its gritty Massachusetts setting. With some streaming titles, it’s easy to lament that they weren’t afforded a more lavish release. For better and worse, "CODA" feels right at home on your small screen. [Jesse Hassenger]
For another take, read Stephanie Weaver’s 2021 review of "CODA."
How to watch "CODA"
"CODA" is streaming exclusively on Apple TV+.
Rent or own:
No release date for a DVD and/or Blu-ray release of "CODA" has been announced.
On the big screen:
"CODA" is still playing in limited theaters across the country.
About the writer: Jesse Hassenger is a writer, editor, and film critic based in Brooklyn, New York. His reviews and essays have appeared in The A.V. Club, Polygon, Paste Magazine, The Week, and Decider, among others. He also co-hosts the horror podcast The New Flesh, sometimes writes fiction, and enjoys rock and roll. His tweets about the Brine King from Aquaman appear at @rockmarooned.
What to watch next
Troy Kotsur earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his great supporting turn in "CODA," making him the first deaf man nominated for an acting Oscar. And it’s worth seeking him out as a romantic lead in the 2016 period romance "Wild Prairie Rose." Meanwhile, if you enjoyed "CODA" for its quirky family dynamics and small-town Massachusetts setting, you can find those same elements in the sweet 1990 Cher/Winona Ryder/Christina Ricci comedy-drama "Mermaids."
- Marlee Matlin in "In Her Defense"
- 2018 documentary "Cinemability: The Art of Inclusion"
- 2012’s "See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary"
About Tubi: Tubi has more than 35,000 movies and television series from over 250 content partners, including every major studio, in addition to the largest offering of free live local and national news channels in streaming. The platform gives fans of entertainment, news and sports an easy way to discover new content that is available completely free.
Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at http://www.tubi.tv/.
Tubi and this television station are both owned by the FOX Corporation.
Allison Shoemaker and Caroline Siede contributed to this report.