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‘CODA’ Deserves to Be in the Oscars Race, Despite Film Bros’ Bashing

Emilia Jones hanging out a car window in CODA

CODA may just take home the Best Picture award at the Oscars this year, and while that initially excited me, seeing all the backlash the movie has suddenly been getting because of its wins at other award shows has now made this a very annoying time to be on “Film Twitter.” The backlash was starting to happen throughout the award show circuit but ramped up with CODA’s Producers Guild Awards win the Sunday before the Oscars—moving the Apple TV+ film up in the running for Best Picture, for those tracking the Academy Awards.

The problem with the conversation surrounding CODA isn’t that people have different opinions on what should win Best Picture or whether they think CODA should be there; it’s the tone in which they’re talking about CODA. The film is making leaps and bounds in the way of representation for the deaf community with its cast and story, but because it’s not a dour tale of hardship—the only kind of movie about underrepresented groups that Hollywood usually seems to think is worthy of recognition—but a feel-good movie about Ruby (Emilia Jones) growing up the hearing child of deaf parents and her desire to be a singer, it is seen, by some, as akin to a TV movie instead of being “Oscar-Worthy.”

They’re talking down to other film fans and critics, claiming that the feel-good choice should be King Richard, as if they’re not both worthy of their nominations. This isn’t Highlander, you guys.

Content creator Jstoobs broke down the real issue that I have with the criticism surrounding CODA in a a TikTok.

Not to mention that using “Lifetime movie” as an insult—especially in talking about a coming-of-age story about a young girl trying to find a place for herself in the world outside of the duties she has at home, written and directed by a woman—reeks of sexism.

Let a feel-good movie win

I’ve seen all but one of the Best Picture nominees at this point, and frankly, I loved both of the films labeled “feel-good.” I think that King Richard is an incredible look into the family dynamic and rise to worldwide fame of Venus and Serena Williams, and I think that CODA takes us into a world we rarely see represented on film and is surprisingly hopeful and charming.

They’re both good movies. Bashing one of them just because you prefer another just puts a bad taste in my mouth. Why bash movies to make your choice look better? If anything, that’s a horrible reflection on you. Pop culture critic Isaac Feldberg tweeted about some of the nominees to bash CODA (and still hasn’t deleted the tweet) and used the directors as points.

It’s not the only “feel-good” film to ever be in the Oscars race, and I hope it’s not the last. Films like Jerry Maguire can be nominated and praised for years to come, which arguably also feels like how CODA made me feel while watching it. The difference is that CODA is being trashed just because it is winning, and that didn’t happen with other “feel-good” movies from the past.

So while I think that people don’t have to like CODA, I do think they need to watch how they’re talking about the movie because it is making leaps and bounds for representation for the deaf community, hopefully will end up with an Oscar win for Troy Kotsur for his work as Frank Rossi, and is genuinely one of the sweetest movies I’ve seen in recent years. Calling it a “Lifetime” movie is rude to the film and the community it represents when you could simply just say that CODA isn’t for you.

I hope CODA takes home the Best Picture Oscar, and if not, I hope that it’s King Richard or Belfast. And if it isn’t any of those, I won’t equate the winner to something from the Disney Channel in 1999. Every movie nominated deserves to be there, and we should maybe learn how to talk about our preferences when it comes to award season without being complete assholes about it.

(image: Apple TV+)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.