Total Recall: Hayao Miyazaki's Best Movies

Summary

Hayao Miyazaki's last three films (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle) platformed in America to mild success. For his 10th and latest movie, Ponyo (the story of an ocean goldfish and her quest to become human), Disney will be granting it a more confident, nationwide release this Friday. Frankly, the more opportunity America gets to see a Miyazaki movie, the better: they expertly breach multiple genres and fulfill the visual promise of hand-drawn animation. But they also feel deeply personal. Always directing from his own scripts, Miyazaki can take any story and mold it to his likeness, creating across 10 films a thematically consistent, rich and rewarding universe. This week's Total Recall explores the career of Hayao Miyazaki, animation's grand auteur. Back to Article

Comments

MikeMaZZacre

Mi MaZZacane

this is great i love miyazaki's films favorite being princess mononoke and the amazing thing is is that his lowest rated film is still 85%!!!

Aug 12 - 04:45 PM

Steven F.

Steven Feldman

I haven't seen Howl's Moving Castle nor Ponyo, but I would rank the others thusly (with 1 for best and 8 for least):

(1) My Neighbor Totoro
(2) Castle in the Sky
(3) Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
(4) Princess Mononoke
(5) Kiki's Delivery Service
(6) Castle of Cagliostro
(7) Spirited Away
(8) Porco Rosso

Honestly, I think Porco Rosso is awful.

Aug 12 - 11:31 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Porco Rosso is NOT awful!

Aug 13 - 09:33 AM

Mtnman

Rich Hendrix

No way Dude! Porco Rosso is my favorite H.M. flick. I own four of Studio Ghibli's dvd sets that I got for my grandchildren, but I watch them all every year at least once. NausicaA is my next favorite, then the one about the flying castle, and finally the Big Owl thingie. Hayao Miyazaki is pure genius at all levels and I am looking forward to Ponyo on dvd. Why waste $20 on seeing it in the theatre, when you can collect his work for the same price?

Aug 17 - 01:39 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

Spirited Away and some other one about a flying castle. My son's 12 he LOVES the movies and we check out the books of the films from our local public library.

Aug 12 - 04:55 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

His movies have great premises but the movies feels somewhat flawed with sub-plots that don't contribute much to the main plot. They not terrible(I've seen much worse), it just not my cup of tea.

Aug 12 - 05:33 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

The most accurate tomatometer films are just Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, because there's no way Kiki's Delivery Services is his best film (It's often consider to be one of his least interesting among many.)

Aug 12 - 05:47 PM

bamb0o-stick

Jonathan Y

I loved Princess Mononoke because to me that was the most mature of all the other movies he's done. There were things in that movie that just blew my mind, not to mention some of the fantastic fight scenes in there. I'm actually surprised that the movie was rated PG-13.

I always thought Spirited Away was a beautiful, albeit trippy movie. I always felt it was a little overrated. Miyazaki is probably the only heavyweight director that can butt heads with Pixar. If it wasn't for either one of them the other would easily win Best Animated film for the year. I'm excited to find out who will win it this year, Up or Ponyo.

Aug 12 - 06:29 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Up easily. Some of my friends and my sister went to Japan last year to see this movie and have said it's good, but one of his least interesting.

Aug 12 - 06:50 PM

Barnaby B.

Barnaby Barrilla

I agree with you. Princess IMO is his best movie to date.

Aug 13 - 02:25 PM

inactive user

Jared King

"Spirited Away", "My Neighbor Totoro", "Porco Rosso", "Howl's Moving Castle", and "Princess Mononoke" are all in my top 50. "Howl's" is the worst, but it's still great. This guy is GOD!

Aug 12 - 06:37 PM

Stephen L.

Stephen Lewis

I agree Howl is the worst but you should check out the book it was based on. Pretty damn good.

Aug 13 - 01:31 AM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

My favorite was also Princess Mononoke, but some of that may have had to do with the english speaking actors and voice dubbing. I normally HATE dubbings, even for cartoons, but Mononoke worked out great. Especially Gillian Anderson ;)

Aug 12 - 06:38 PM

Mysterious F.

Mysterious F

Howl's Moving Castle is my favorite, so...

Aug 12 - 06:41 PM

CaptainSiberia

Raymond Ogilvie

I can only speak for the four movies I've seen:: Laputa: Castle in the Sky goes at the top, followed by Princess Mononoke, then Nausicaa, then Spirited Away.

Aug 12 - 06:43 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Up easily. Some of my friends and my sister went to Japan last year to see this movie and have said it's good, but one of his least interesting.

Aug 12 - 06:50 PM

NimChimpsky

- -

The rankings, of course, are skewed due to the fewer reviews available for the highest ranking, older movies, so I doubt Porco Rosso would rank as high with all things being equal. But who cares, it's Miyazaki--with the exception of Howl's, they're all great.

The biggest quibble--Whisper of the Heart, while only written by Miyazaki, should really be included. It's a masterpiece.

Aug 12 - 06:55 PM

thomaskr

Thomas Krul

NimChimpsky, I thought I was the only one pining to see "whispers of the heart" added to this list. I loved that movie; some moments were so beautifully realized that it felt like watching someone's personal dream come to life. Also have to add props to the ending of PomPoko (so sad) and throw in my 2cents that Kiki's Delivery Service definitely deserved the top spot.

Guess everyone takes away something different from each Miyazaki film!

Aug 14 - 06:34 AM

Vu N.

Vu Nguyen

Wow, a list I can agree with. Personally, I found Porco Rosso to be the greatest work because it's a very tightly written script with very little meandering. It pushes the traditional definitions of romance quite well from the bonds between family and friends to the love of a woman to the love of adventure. And it pushes the magic of a time gone by. Normally, I look back at past eras and while I can appreciate them, I wouldn't sacrifice the era I'm living in now. But after watching Porco Rosso, you think that the past had some remarkable moments. It's not a kid's story like his other works.

And I loved Kiki too. I really tried to like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away but ended up falling asleep a few times at the movie theater.

Aug 14 - 11:21 PM

Vu N.

Vu Nguyen

Wow, a list I can agree with. Personally, I found Porco Rosso to be the greatest work because it's a very tightly written script with very little meandering. It pushes the traditional definitions of romance quite well from the bonds between family and friends to the love of a woman to the love of adventure. And it pushes the magic of a time gone by. Normally, I look back at past eras and while I can appreciate them, I wouldn't sacrifice the era I'm living in now. But after watching Porco Rosso, you think that the past had some remarkable moments. It's not a kid's story like his other works.

And I loved Kiki too. I really tried to like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away but ended up falling asleep a few times at the movie theater.

Aug 14 - 11:22 PM

John L.

John Lehman

Whispers of the Heart has an odd sequel. The movie%u2019s success created a demand for the story that the heroine of Whispers sacrificed so much to create. This adventure is to be found in The Cat Returns, whose story concept is credited to Miyazaki. A delight from end to end.

Aug 16 - 02:03 PM

Marlon E.

Marlon Elsbree

I love all his work, but I have to say my favorite is Castle in the Sky. Don't know if I'll see Ponyo or District 9 this weekend.

Aug 12 - 09:00 PM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

I've seen all of these except My Neighbor Totoro and Porco Rosso - I've been meaning to, just haven't gotten around to it. Nausicaa is by far my favorite; I also have the manga, which is equally astounding.

My one quibble is with the comment that Princess Mononoke has "a finale that borders on pessimistic." Maybe I saw the movie differently than this reviewer, but I thought the ending - after the apocalyptic finale - was one of pure hope in the wake of disaster.

Anyway, go Miyazaki! I doubt Ponyo can beat Up this year, because early buzz has Ponyo bein one of his weaker films, while Up is, well, my favorite Pixar film since The Incredibles.

Aug 12 - 09:08 PM

ahalsell

Allen Halsell

It's inconceivable to me that people here haven't seen 'My Neighbor Totoro.' Granted it was the first Miyazaki film I saw, but it's a classic. There's a great conversation out there between Miyazaki and Akira Kurosawa about the movie.

The Fox dub is still the best ;)

Aug 13 - 09:31 AM

Kudos Mooney

Jeremy Mullins

I first saw Princess Mononoke back when I started to get into films that didn't take up entire sections in a video store (back when we still had VHS where I lived!). I remember sitting down to watch this 2 hour movie at 9 pm, having to work at 5 am the next morning...needless to say, I was so blown away I rewound the tape and watched it again. I fell in love with Mayazaki from that moment onward.

Having seen most of his films (I am trying to get to Porco Rosso again...I just couldn't stand Michael Keaton's voice work...maybe it'll grow on me), I would have to say that Howl's is by far the least entertaining of his films, even if it is my wife's favourite. I would have to say, believe it or not, that my favourite Mayazaki film is a tie between "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "Lupin the 3rd: the Castle of Cagliostro"; the former because I absolutely loved the story, setting, and characters and the latter because I absolutely loved the music, humor, and slight edge to the animation/story - Mayazaki's script for Cagliostro is fantastic, to say the least.

Otherwise, I love the ending of "Princess Mononoke" the best...the scene where the forest spirit basically disappears over the hills, and there's that soft quiet as the green foliage slowly grows onto the hillsides as the beautiful score comes through the speakers...man...what a beautiful way to end a glorious film.

Aug 12 - 09:13 PM

gramie

Graham Stratford

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned "Grave of the Fireflies", one of the most moving and saddest movies ever made. It deals with two children who lose their family in bombing raids during WWII. After Spirited Away, it's my clear favourite.

Aug 12 - 09:28 PM

kenekgo

David Blandino

Well, Grave of the Fireflies is not a Miyazaki Film.

Aug 12 - 09:55 PM

1990 M.

1990 Miyazaki

this isn't miyazaki's movie,it's a movie of his partner,it has nothing to do with miyazaki.so please learn something then talk about it.

Aug 13 - 10:25 AM

Gorange

Angela Lee

Grave of the Fireflies is a brilliant movie but it's not Miyazaki's. It was done by Takahata.

I have seen all of Miyazaki's films. And it's like choosing a favorite star from the sky. Impossible to do.

Aug 14 - 08:19 PM

Beanie B.

Beanie Beans

Gamie - that's because Grave of the Fireflies is not by Miyazaki - it's simply produced by Studio Gihbli. I've never seen it myself, but yes, I hear that it's meant to be excellent.

Aug 17 - 02:32 PM

Max Pendragon

Stephen Larsen

I've grown up with Miyazaki. I remember watching My Neighbor Totoro at a young age and have favored his movies. I'll probably raise my kids as Miyazaki purists. Ha ha. Seriously, my favorite is probably Howl's Moving Castle, despite it's flaws, and then Nausicaa. I'm looking forward to Ponyo, it's too bad I have no money for a movie ticket this weekend.

Aug 12 - 09:31 PM

KARL S.

KARL SANCHEZ

I watched Ponyo. I liked the aspect of friendship in most of his movies. My Neighbor Totoro is the most meaningful to me, I guess. I like the creative nature of his products. It definitely has almost NO resemblance to any Disney movies created. The animation is astounding.

Sep 25 - 02:37 PM

kenekgo

David Blandino

Well, Grave of the Fireflies is not a Miyazaki Film.

Aug 12 - 09:55 PM

Soni D.

Soni D

Wish RT (or whoever made this list) had the YEAR next to the title of these films, it would be nice to know the time line of his work too.

Aug 12 - 11:00 PM

Steven F.

Steven Feldman

I haven't seen Howl's Moving Castle nor Ponyo, but I would rank the others thusly (with 1 for best and 8 for least):

(1) My Neighbor Totoro
(2) Castle in the Sky
(3) Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
(4) Princess Mononoke
(5) Kiki's Delivery Service
(6) Castle of Cagliostro
(7) Spirited Away
(8) Porco Rosso

Honestly, I think Porco Rosso is awful.

Aug 12 - 11:31 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Porco Rosso is NOT awful!

Aug 13 - 09:33 AM

Mtnman

Rich Hendrix

No way Dude! Porco Rosso is my favorite H.M. flick. I own four of Studio Ghibli's dvd sets that I got for my grandchildren, but I watch them all every year at least once. NausicaA is my next favorite, then the one about the flying castle, and finally the Big Owl thingie. Hayao Miyazaki is pure genius at all levels and I am looking forward to Ponyo on dvd. Why waste $20 on seeing it in the theatre, when you can collect his work for the same price?

Aug 17 - 01:39 AM

darthbiscuit80

Kelly Brindle

It's odd how people are saying that the early "buzz" of Ponyo is that it is his less interesting films. Most of the reviews I've read (American as well as Japanese. It's been out nearly a year there.) have placed it among his best works. Oh, well. Even if it is one of his least interesting, Mediocre from Miyazaki is usually better than Top Notch from anyone else.

Also, Howl is my second favorite after Castle in the Sky. It's one of those movies that gets better with each subsequent viewing.

Aug 12 - 11:44 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

People say it was good, just not as interesting as his better films, like Cars is to Pixar

Aug 13 - 12:10 AM

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