Peter Ramsey’s been a pioneer for years now, but this month could bring an especially notable milestone.
Fresh off his Golden Globes win Sunday night for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Ramsey could become the first African-American director nominated for a feature animation Oscar. Academy Award voting begins Monday for the nominations, which will be announced Jan. 22.
Ramsey has been down much of this road before. His directorial debut, 2012’s Rise Of The Guardians – for which he was hailed as “the Obama of animation” – was another big-budget CGI feature that garnered a Golden Globe nomination. But Brave took home the Globe (and the Oscar) that season – while Guardians didn’t even receive an Academy Award nod.
Spider-Verse, though, sits in a much stronger position. Sony’s new animated smash – also directed by Bob Persichetti (Puss In Boots) and Rodney Rothman (22 Jump Street) – not only won the Globe. Spider-Verse has also received better reviews than Guardians (87 vs. 57 average score on Metacritic).
In a big year for screen superheroes of color, Spider-Verse is also riding a cultural zeitgeist. In its first three weeks of release, Ramsey’s latest film has already grossed $275 million worldwide – set to soon surpass the entire run of Guardians ($306.9 million).
Sure to boost Spider-Verse’s chances for an Oscars nomination amid the high-volume awards season is its eye-candy quality.
In that regard, Ramsey couldn’t have been a better pick to help lead the film, as written by Emmy winners Phil Lord (The Last Man On Earth, The Lego Movie) and Rothman (Late Show With David Letterman).
Ramsey’s well-rounded background includes painting, illustration and storyboard art – including Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time last year – and his pivot to animation starting with the Shrek franchise has opened whole new creative avenues for him.
Ramsey has witnessed barrier-breaking, including when he served as a second unit director on 1993’s Poetic Justice – the film’s director, John Singleton, had become the first black director to receive an Oscars nomination for his film Boyz N The Hood.”
“Anyone can be behind the mask,” Ramsey said Sunday while accepting the Golden Globe for Spider-Verse.
But Ramsey is the uncommon multi-hyphenate of a talent who elevates a work like Spider-Verse by being behind the camera.