Every year, there’s a movie that sings with the SING STREETs and PEANUT BUTTER FALCONs of the world. These smaller movies come out of nowhere to unexpectedly touch your heart and make you smile while wiping a tear from your eye. This year it’s CODA.

What a lovely, uplifting movie. It’s easy to see why CODA was one of the most honored films at Sundance and why Apple was determined to spend $25 million to acquire the movie.

CODA is a triumph for representation for the deaf community, allowing audiences a glimpse into the lives of families with deaf members. But more interesting than that is how, despite being challenged, we see they’re as normal and real as every family in the world. Maybe even more functional.

The absolute star of this film is the wonderful Emilia Jones (from Netflix’s LOCKE AND KEY), who gives a soulful, passionate, stellar performance. As much as I love LOCKE AND KEY, Jones isn’t allowed to flex her dramatic muscle nearly as much there as she is here, and that’s a damn shame. Because in addition to being charming and absolutely winning, we get to hear her shine as a singer as well! Put your money on this actress to explode onto our screens very quickly and just as brightly!

The rest of the performances are just as good too, with Eugenio Derbez and Troy Kotsur being really fantastic, scene-stealing standouts, as well as strong performances from Daniel Durant and Marlee Matlin as well! Shockingly, SING STREET star Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is given, somewhat, the least to do, and even finds himself out-sung and out-performed by the radiant Jones.

The performances aside, this is also a very funny movie, with so much heart, and absolutely realistic, winning characters, and beautiful, real moments that will definitely make you tear up. Perhaps I’m getting a bit too aggressive in analyzing Oscar prospects for this one, as it’s still early. But the one guarantee I can make about CODA is that it will appear on my year-end list, no questions asked!

CODA is now available to stream on Apple TV +!

Mike Manalo

Born a Slytherin. Baptized into Marvel. Bitten by a Radioactive DC fan. And raised a Jedi, Mike Manalo is a silent guardian, a watchful protector… a Dark Nerd!

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