Kemp Powers, co-director of Pixar’s “Soul,” is the first Black debut filmmaker to win a Golden Globe in its 78-year-history. In addition to his historic feat, he is also the second Black director to win in this category, following Peter Ramsey, who shared this award with Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Bob Persichetti for 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Ramsey was also previously nominated for 2012’s “Rise of the Guardians.” There have only been two other Black directors to win Globes for their films in other categories — Steve McQueen (2014’s “12 Years a Slave”) and Barry Jenkins (2017’s “Moonlight”), who both won as part of the producing teams in best picture (drama). Powers co-wrote the film with director Pete Docter and screenwriter Mike Jones.
Producer Dana Murray, along with co-director and co-writer Pete Docter accepted the award. Powers, who wasn’t present with them, gave his speech via a record speech on a tablet that Docter held up to the camera saying, “Our story is universal. Thank you Pixar and our families.”
In a statement to Variety, the trio shared, “We’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for honoring our movie, Soul. In the film, Joe Gardner goes on an incredible journey, at the end of which he learns that being present for the awe and wonder of the everyday parts of life can provide soul-fulfilling purpose. We’re thrilled that this message has resonated with audiences, especially given these difficult times when awe and wonder seem, sometimes, in short supply. If our film has been impactful, it’s only because of the efforts of so many people who poured their creative energy into it. For all of that work – and all of the soul searching it required – we are incredibly thankful.”
“Soul” tells the story of a middle school music teacher who seeks to reunite his soul and his body after being separated before his big break as a jazz musician. Initially slated for June 2020 and then later postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the film skipped its theatrical run and debuted exclusively on the streaming platform Disney Plus on Christmas Day.
For Docter, a previous winner for 2009’s “Up” and 2015’s “Inside Out,” this marks his third statuette, further extending his record as the most awarded filmmaker in this category since its inception in 2006. This also marks Pixar Animation Studios’ ninth win, following “Cars” (2006), “Ratatouille” (2007), “WALL-E” (2008), “Up” (2009), “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Brave” (2012), “Inside Out” (2015) and “Coco” (2017). Except for “Cars” losing to Warner Bros’ “Happy Feet,” all of their Globes wins have translated to Oscar wins. “Toy Story 4” (2019) is the only film from Pixar to lose the Globe (losing to Laika’s “Missing Link”) and go on to win the Academy Award. It also marks the first win for a film that debuted on the Disney Plus platform since its launch in November 2019.
“Soul” has dominated the awards season thus far, winning the most critics’ awards for an animated feature, as well as its original score by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste. The film is also currently among the ten shortlisted movies for best visual effects, which would make it the fourth film ever nominated in the category.
In Variety’s review of “Soul,” Peter Debruge called the film “a whimsical, musical and boldly metaphysical dramedy about what makes each and everybody tick, featuring a cast of characters who don’t have bodies at all.”
“Soul” was nominated alongside “The Croods: A New Age” (DreamWorks Animation), “Onward” (Pixar), “Over the Moon” (Netflix) and “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS).