Historic Oscar nominations 2022

Historic Oscar nomination for actor with a disability

Historic Oscar nomination for actor with a disability

For the film buffs among us, this time of year marks the beginning of awards season. And with the release of the 2022 Oscar nominations on February 8, things are well and truly underway. While a fresh list of would-be winners is exciting, this year’s nods are particularly important for the disability community.

Troy Kotsur was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His nomination makes him the first deaf man to be nominated and only the second deaf person to be nominated in Oscar history.

Celebrated actress and activist Marlee Matlin was the first deaf person to be nominated for an academy award. She took home Oscar gold in 1987 for her part in Children of a Lesser God. Her historic nomination and win marked only the third time in Oscar history that a person with a disability has won the coveted award.

The first was in 1947. Harold Russel, a veteran with a disability, won for Best Supporting Actor in The Best Years of our Lives. The second was Matlin in 1987, and the third was Dan Keplinger. He took home Oscar gold in 1999 for Best Short Subject Documentary for King Gimp. The short doco was written by and starred Keplinger, following his life as an artist with cerebral palsy.

Kotsur may become the fourth Oscar winner with a disability for his portrayal of Frank Rossi in CODA, which coincidentally co-stars Matlin.

The film’s title is an acronym for child of deaf adults. Written and directed by Sian Heder, the film is a coming-of-age story focused on the Rossi family as they handle their growing daughter’s ambitions and the fate of their family business. Kotsur and Matlin play the parents of two children, Leo and Ruby. The latter is the only hearing member of the family of four.

Kotsur’s scene stealing performance also received nominations from the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Gotham Independent Film Awards.

CODA also racked up a slew of nominations. This includes Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. It was also nominated for:

  • Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture
  • Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
  • Producers Guild of America for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
  • Writers Guild of America for Best Adapted Screenplay
  • BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
  • NAACP Award for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.

The film has been well received by reviewers across the board, with many praising the film’s depth and soul. Particularly in focusing on the inclusion of people with disabilities and their stories.  

This year’s nominations are a step toward recognizing the importance of representation on the silver screen. It’s key to creating inclusive entertainment that more accurately represents the diversity of our society.

It’s great to see projects that focus on telling the stories of the disability community – with writers, directors, cast and crew with disabilities – bringing them to life!