Apple’s Best Picture win for ‘CODA’ has changed the definition of cinema forever

The news: For the first time and almost certainly not the last, a streaming service won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, with Apple taking the prize for “CODA.”

  • “CODA” also notched wins for Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur, the first deaf man to win a major acting award) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
  • While Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” lost the Best Picture race, Jane Campion won Best Director for that film. The streaming leader was also nominated for Best Picture for the satirical “Don’t Look Up.”

More on this: Apple and Netflix spent millions of dollars to campaign for their respective nominees.

  • Three years in a row, Netflix has received the most nominations of any studio, but Apple TV+’s win (in its first nomination) represents an irrevocable shift in how viewers consume film.
  • While Apple has spent inordinate amounts of cash to build a streaming service, it only launched in November 2019. To put things in perspective, Netflix and Amazon were launching Best Picture campaigns as early as 2017, with the former’s “Manchester by the Sea.”
  • The rise of streaming has created an existential crisis for movie theaters. Many are shutting down as consumption habits increasingly turn to streaming options during the pandemic. Films like “West Side Story” that opted for cinematic releases suffered as a result.
  • Dramas, which tend to get nominated more than any other genre, only accounted for 5.13% of total box office receipts in 2021, per movie analytics provider Nash Information Services.

What this means: Some of the year's top films may no longer have a theatrical release, though the box office will still be home to the likes of “The Batman” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

  • Hollywood legends like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and others have decried streaming as being unequal to traditional movie experiences. This year, Academy voters resoundingly disagreed.
  • The Academy Awards have always reflected the state of film—and this year, it has proclaimed that a film seen on a small screen via streaming services has the potential to be better than any movie released on the big screen.
  • The CODA win is a coup for Apple TV+, which lags far behind Netflix in viewership. The awareness that the service has more than just “Ted Lasso” won’t be enough for Apple TV+ to catch up anytime soon, but it can only help.


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