Troy Kotsur's Win For CODA May Be The Best Non-Surprise Of The Night

Troy Kotsur tied a bow on his near-perfect award season tonight, taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "CODA." He's also made history as the second-ever deaf actor to win an Oscar, after his "CODA" co-star Marlee Matlin won the award for "Children of a Lesser God" in 1986.

The actor, who has already accepted a BAFTA, Critics Choice Award, Spirit Award, Gotham Award, and more for the role, took to the Oscars stage with an emotional, signed speech that even made his interpreter choke up. His win wasn't exactly a surprise, but it was certainly well deserved.

Kotsur plays funny, stubborn patriarch Frank Rossi in "CODA," a comedic drama about the shared lives of a mostly-deaf family and their hearing daughter, Ruby (Emilia Jones). A coming-of-age movie at heart, "CODA" follows Ruby as she joins her school choir, experiences first love, and butts heads with her family as she grows weary of serving as their interpreter. Kotsur, though, steals the show at every turn. Frank Rossi is hilariously prone to crass outbursts and super horny for his wife (Marlee Matlin) — but he's also quietly caring.

Some of the best scenes in "CODA" transcend the boundaries between Ruby's world as a hearing person and her family's world of silence, as when she performs a signed version of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" at her Berklee School of Music audition, all while her family looks on. At perhaps the movie's most emotional moment, Frank and Ruby sit outside their house, and he gently places his hand near Ruby's throat to feel the vibrations of her song. It's an incredibly touching moment about a parent who wants to understand what makes his child special, building a bridge across the distance between them.

An excellent speech for an excellent role

Kotsur himself referenced the bridge the movie builds in his humble acceptance speech, which read like a perfect culmination of so many measured speeches that came before it. The actor accepted the award from another actor who also recently won an Oscar for a breakout role, "Minari" actress Youn Yuh-jung. The Oscar audience demonstrated the sign for applause as the actor took to the stage.

While Yuh-jung sweetly held his Oscar to keep his hands free for signing, the actor spoke about the bridge that "CODA" director Sian Heder built between communities. "You brought the deaf world and hearing world together, and you are our bridge," Kotsur said. He paraphrased nominee Steven Spielberg, who he says wrote, "The definition of the best director is a skilled communicator." Heder, he says, is that skilled communicator. "CODA" is a feel-good movie that balances tender emotions with compelling and often funny performances, and Heder orchestrates it all.

The actor's speech was a perfect encapsulation of his role in "CODA"–liable to make anyone watching laugh and cry. He admitted that he wanted to teach the President dirty sign language when the "CODA" cast visited the White House last week, but that "Marlee said to behave." By speech's end, though, the actor had reached a point of emotion so sincere that it could even be heard in his interpreter's tear-filled voice. Kotsur thanked his father, who he explained became paralyzed and unable to sign after a car accident. In the end, Kotsur also dedicated the award to "the deaf community, the disabled community, the 'CODA' community."

"CODA" is available to stream on Apple TV+ and can be rented or bought from various digital retailers.