Song of the Day #5,012: ‘Beyond the Shore’ – Emilia Jones

Concluding the countdown of my favorite 2021 movies…

Best Films of 2021
#1 – CODA

My top ten list features films that push boundaries visually and narratively. It includes documentaries, animation, films in black and white, and movies by directors I’ve loved for most of my life.

But the title in the #1 spot doesn’t fall into any of those categories. It’s simply the movie that moved me more than anything else I saw last year. And it wasn’t even close.

Writer/director Sian Heder’s CODA was a sensation at Sundance, and it epitomizes a typical Sundance film: the small, feel-good, modest family drama. But the combination of subject matter and execution make this one special.

Emilia Jones plays Ruby, the hearing daughter of deaf parents in a seaside Massachusetts town. She helps her father and brother (also deaf) on their fishing boat, and in a hundred other ways. Neither she or her family can imagine how they would get by without her.

But she dreams of being a singer, not only a talent her family is physically unable to appreciate, but one that would take her far from them if she were to pursue it seriously.

A tale about a young person’s dream colliding with her family’s expectations is nothing new, but something about CODA makes the film transcend those familiar trappings.

In part, it’s the sensitivity and authenticity with which the movie captures the deaf community. Heder cast deaf actors, including Oscar winner Marlee Matlin and possible future Oscar winner Troy Kotsur, and allowed them to infuse the film with rich details of deaf culture. I’ve never seen people communicate so expressively in ASL, and it was both a pleasure and an education.

Another differentiator is the beautiful performance of newcomer Emilia Jones, honored with my personal Best Actress trophy a little while back. Jones brings so much raw emotion and vulnerability to this role. She makes me tear up in multiple scenes with just an expression.

Finally, not enough credit has been given by critics and awards bodies to writer/director Heder, who avoids the genre’s traps to deliver a heartwarming film about a family that feels completely real.

I’m always happy when my favorite movie of the year turns out to be something I never would have predicted. CODA is even more exceptional for being so unexpected.

Early morning, awake in this city
Street lights are on and the dawn feels like ages away
I’m here every day
If I could see the day break over the ocean
As the sun burns the fog and I’m starting anew
Out in the blue

Through the calm ‘fore the storm
You’re with me now and then
By my side, nothing more
Out and back again
It’s a call I can’t ignore
Move me like the tide
When we chase that sky beyond the shore, mmm-mmm

Wind and water, father and daughter
Your stories are with me in all that I do
Now I’m writing one too
‘Cause the tide keeps turning
Take me out, bring me back
Show me the truth out in the blue

Through the calm ‘fore the storm
You’re with me now and then
By my side, nothing more
Out and back again
It’s a call I can’t ignore
Move me like the tide
When we chase that sky beyond the shore, ooh-ooh

Built from salt and sand, your working hands
They held me as I learned to stand
And in your eyes, I could see there was more to me

Through the calm ‘fore the storm
You’re with me now and then
By my side, nothing more
Out and back again
It’s a call I can’t ignore
Move me like the tide
When we chase that sky beyond the shore, ooh-ooh

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,012: ‘Beyond the Shore’ – Emilia Jones

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    His was a truly special film, well-deserving of its front runner status for Best Picture.

  2. Peg says:

    I totally agree!! Love this movie ❤️

  3. Amy says:

    I confess I don’t always listen to the song on the days you post about movies, content, instead, to enjoy your commentary and then get right into the film discussion. Today I decided to listen and now I’m wondering why it didn’t get a nomination! Such a simple lovely vocal performance by Jones delivering lyrics that work both metaphorically and literally for this charming film, which is also in contention for my top spot of the year.

    Originally I had the epic Beatles documentary edging it out but was content when you informed me it wasn’t vying in this category. Now, it is Nine Days, but I’ll let my viewing if that film sink in a bit before making an automatic adjustment to my list.

    Still, 1st or 3rd place on my personal best, CODA is one of a handful of films I saw this year I have no doubt I will want to revisit a year or a decade from now. I adore this film.

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