CODA, a heartfelt indie drama about a struggling deaf family, won the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild awards Sunday, boosting its hopes as a potential dark horse for next month’s Oscars.
Taking its title from an acronym for child of deaf adult, CODA follows high school teen Ruby as she juggles her musical ambitions with her family’s dependence on her to communicate with the “hearing” world.
“We deaf actors have come a long way,” signed a visibly shocked Marlee Matlin, a deaf former Oscar winner who plays Ruby’s mother, as she and her co-stars accepted the statuette for best cast in a motion picture.
“This validates the fact that we deaf actors can work just like anybody else,” added Matlin, before teaching the star-studded audience the sign for “I love you.”
The win at the SAG awards, voted for by Hollywood’s acting union, is an important precursor for the Academy Awards, whose largest voting bloc is also actors.
CODA, released by Apple TV+ after a bidding war at last year’s Sundance independent film festival where it fetched a record $25 million, also won best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur.
Kotsur, who plays Ruby’s father, thanked the filmmakers for “believing in us deaf actors and casting us authentically as actors who happen to be deaf.”
The SAG awards—which took place online last year due to COVID-19—returned to an in-person event Sunday in Santa Monica, just outside Los Angeles.