CODA's Best Picture Win Is The First For A Streaming Service – And Apple Beat Netflix To The Punch

In a genuinely amazing turn of events, Apple TV+ has just become the first streaming service to take home the biggest award Hollywood has to offer, as "CODA" won Best Picture at the Oscars. The acclaimed film from director Sian Hader had emerged as a front-runner in recent weeks, but still, beating out the likes of "West Side Story," "Nightmare Alley" and, perhaps most importantly, Netflix's "Don't Look Up" and "The Power of the Dog" makes this a monumental win. And one that has major implications for the future of Hollywood and the streaming wars.

Netflix has been making huge strides to get awards season love over the last handful of years, with the whole idea of a streaming service getting recognition at the Academy Awards upsetting the apple cart (pun unintended) to some degree. Steven Spielberg was very vocal about the fact that he felt streaming movies had their place, whereas theatrically released movies were truly deserving of Oscars. Yet, Netflix got very close, with movies like "Roma," "The Irishman," "Marriage Story," "Mank," and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" all scoring nominations. Yet, despite all of that spending and all of that effort, it was Apple's deep pockets that got there first.

Apple took the rights to "CODA," a moving tale about a deaf family from Gloucester, Massachusetts, after its premiere at Sundance last year. The move proved to be the right one, as the film also won Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur) and Best Adapted Screenplay as well. Meanwhile, Netflix was largely left out in the cold, though "The Power of the Dog" did win for Best Director, with Jane Campion taking home the prize — but that was about it for the acclaimed Western.

A major upset in the streaming wars

It would have been downright impossible to imagine that when Apple TV+ launched in November of 2019 that they would end up winning the first Best Picture Oscar for a streaming service a little more than two years later. Netflix, meanwhile, has been the dominant name in streaming for years now, with Apple only getting into the business as a result of its dominance. The whole situation is remarkable.

The other thing to consider here is that no matter who took home the prize, a streaming service winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards is a watershed moment. There is a seismic shift going on in the industry right now with almost every studio and tech company in town doubling down on streaming, with the future of movie theaters seemingly destined to rely purely on superhero films, horror flicks, and crowd-pleasing blockbusters. Movies like "CODA" and "The Power of the Dog," meanwhile, will be made by streaming services and given theatrical releases merely to qualify for these big awards.

Optimistically, this will encourage other studios that have a stake in wanting movies to do well at the box office to try harder to beat the streamers at their game. The other side of the coin could be that this just means fewer awards-friendly movies will be made by studios for theaters, with the future of these types of films destined for the streaming world. The times are changing, and they are changing fast.