Cambridge City Council members passed along their “heartfelt congratulations” in an official resolution to a Cambridge native who took home a pair of Oscars on Sunday night.
Sian Heder, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School graduate, will now receive an enlarged copy of the City Council resolution – one sponsored by Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and Councilor Marc McGovern – acknowledging the female director’s Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture wins for “CODA.” The councilors’ resolution describes the independent movie as “outstanding.”
Cambridge’s Oscar winners
Heder’s wins on Sunday put her in a Cambridge pantheon of Oscar winners: Ben Affleck won Best Picture in 2013 for “Argo.” He and fellow Cambridge native Matt Damon shared Best Original Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting” in 1998. Affleck’s brother, Casey Affleck, won Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2017 for “Manchester by the Sea.”
Like the latter, “CODA” was filmed on the North Shore. The Gloucester-based movie tells the story of Ruby, a child of deaf adults (CODA) and the sole member in her all-deaf family who she can hear. Her parents and her brother lean on her for interpretation in the larger world and for help on their fishing boat.
A struggle emerges as a teenage Ruby begins to assert her independence and aspires to be a professional singer. Heder not only garnered critical praise for her direction from her but also for pulling on viewers’ heartstrings as the film effectively places them in deaf individuals’ shoes.
“Oh, my God. I’m so glad I dressed as a disco ball. Oh, my God,” said Heder, pointing out her bedazzled silver dress to widespread laughs as she accepted her Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. “This was an independent film, and it was incredibly hard to get made.”
She added, “Writing and making this movie was truly life-changing as an artist and as a human being.”
Among her writing and producing credits are “Orange Is the New Black” and “Little America.” She’s directed on both of those shows, as well as on “GLOW.” But in recent years, Heder, 44, transitioned to feature films. Her first, in 2016, was “Tallulah,” about a young woman who can’t adjust to being a mother.
A history-making film
“CODA” made history as the inaugural film produced by a streaming service, in this case Apple, to win Best Picture. The film was the little engine that could, pulling ahead of the Oscar season’s early favorite, “The Power of the Dog,” produced by Netflix, for the top award.
Perhaps even more exceptional: “CODA” is the first film in 90 years to win Best Picture on fewer than four nominations. The award’s victor has statistically and historically gone to movies with across-the-board nominations, according to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“CODA” swept the three categories in which the Academy Awards nominated it. The third went to Troy Kotsur, who plays Ruby’s dad, for Best Supporting Actor. He has joined his “CODA” co-star, Marlee Matlin, as the only Deaf actors ever to win Oscars for acting.
“This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community,” said Kotsur in his Oscar speech. “This is our moment.”
Ed Symkus contributed reporting for this article.