If you like good movies then you like Miyazaki’s movies, and that’s just how the world works. If there’s any film on this list you haven’t seen before, I recommend you find a way to get your hands on all of them as quickly as you can. You might rank the films differently, but we can all agree these Top 10 Miyazaki Movies are all worth a little praise.
10. Ponyo (2008)
While making this list I realized that I’m putting all of the more children audience targeted movies at the bottom. They aren’t bad movies, but I personally feel that they lack the depth some of the more serious titles have, and can’t seriously compete. Ponyo is a great example of a fascinating Miyazaki world, enough to get a place on the Top 10 Miyazaki Movies list, but not enough to place higher.
9. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
I’m sure to receive some flak for putting My Neighbor Totoro so low on this list. It’s one of Miyazaki’s most popular movies, and the one that put Miyazaki on the map. For so many fans this is their number one choice. But for some reason this is one of the few Miyazaki films I couldn’t really get into. I can’t exactly place my finger on what I don’t get from My Neighbor Totoro, but for some reason it just doesn’t give me that same sense of awe the other movies do.
8. KiKi’s Delivery Service (1989)
I might not be a big fan of the children focused films on this list, but no one can deny that KiKi’s Delivery Service is a great feel good movie. Is the plot that deep? No. It’s a teenage girl growing up into adolescence story, and usually these tales aren’t that profound. But it’d be hard to find someone that could help themselves from smiling throughout this movie, because it’s a good simple story that makes you happy.
7. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
The Secret World of Arrietty might be target a younger audience, but this is one Miyazaki movie that combines both the child film charm and the depth of a more serious title. Instead of crafting an entirely new universe full of interesting technologies and people, Miyazaki creates a fantasy world that can fit within our own homes. It’s one of Miyazaki’s more creative concepts, as he redefines household objects with new purposes for his tiny characters.
6. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
For a long time this was my number one Miyazaki film. Honestly, when you get this close to the end of this kind of list, the top positions all depend on the writer’s opinion and what he’s enjoying at the time. If I had written this last year Howl’s Moving Castle would be in a higher position because it’s an awesome movie. But as time goes on I’m appreciating some of Miyazaki’s other movies a little bit more.
5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Nausicaa was only Miyazaki’s second film, but it’s one of his greatest. This was the first time the world got to see the crazy ideas of a brilliant director and writer on screen. As I begin to watch more anime I see so many references and spin offs of this now classic plot line of nature striking back against the evils of mankind. Its animation is now becoming more and more outdated, but that’s okay, because Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’s storyline and strong characters make it an excellent movie.
4. Porco Rosso (1992)
Not many people would put Porco Rosso so high on their list of Top 10 Miyazaki Movies, but Porco Rosso is and will remain one of my favorite movies. Seeing how Miyazaki shapes a real historical period into a fantasy realm of his own his fascinating to me. I love the dynamic and creative technologies that always find their way into these movies, and it makes it even cooler seeing it on our own world and not a fictional one. Plus, Porco Rosso has pirates that fly planes, and what’s more cool than pirates?
3. Castle in the Sky (1986)
Castle in the Sky is a great movie not only because of its cool action scenes, but also the serenity and peacefulness of the floating fortress. This is a movie that encompasses every good movie element into one excellent film, and has some of Miyazaki’s strongest primary and secondary characters. Check out the movie subbed instead of dubbed and you’ll see the movie has a much different air about it.
2. Spirited Away (2001)
Arguably Miyazaki’s highest rated movie, Spirited Away is a film that has not only a perfect setting, characters, and story, it’s also animated fantastically. When it was released it was the most successful movie Japan had ever made, and still remains the only anime to win an Oscar. So why isn’t Spirited Away number one on my list? Simply because I’ve seen the movie so many times that I’ve over-done it to myself. It’s a great movie, and probably number one on any other Top 10 Miyazaki Movies list, but on this one it’s the runner up to:
1. Princess Mononoke (1997)
For a while my favorite Miyazaki movie has been Princess Mononoke. It’s hard for me not to start retelling the same positive traits this movie has, because it does the same things right every Miyazaki movie does. But Princess Mononoke keeps me interested no matter how many times I watch it. Every little detail of this movie is perfect, and there is not a single scene that isn’t important and interesting. Very few directors will ever be able to reach Miyazaki’s potential, but almost none will be able to match this movie.