Over the last decade, the Academy has made a concerted effort to expand its membership. Since its inception, it has been a club of old white guys, and every year, they are trying to make that less of the case, bringing in more women, people of color, and international members than ever before. While the objective of this is to diversify the voices in the Academy to get a broader range of perspectives on the nominees and winners (which it is doing to a certain degree), it makes finding a consensus amongst all these different voices a little trickier. The best way to find that common ground is in films that place their emotions firmly on their sleeve that everyone will be able to tap into.
“CODA” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are both stories about families with a focus on a daughter trying to break free of the life and expectations her parents set up for her. Despite their wildly different aesthetics, they are films about understanding, empathy, and love at their cores — and everyone can relate to those things no matter who you are. For an Academy that continues to get broader, those broad emotions are so important.
In the last few years, we have also been a people longing for connection and any sense of positivity in a world that increasingly feels pretty awful. These heartwarming stories fulfill that desire. Now that they have moved to the preferential ballot, having a strong emotional connection to the film will most certainly help for prime positioning. Personally, I struggle to connect with their emotional cores because their broadness works against the authenticity for me, but I get why they would be appealing to people. And “CODA” gave them that.