This was originally supposed to be posted when I was doing my rankings of all of Disney’s animated features, but I put it aside for reasons I can’t remember. I honestly remembered posting it, but it seems that I didn’t. I had two versions of this list on my harddrive, one that covered just the films directed by Hayao Miyazaki and one that was all of Studio Ghibli’s output. Since I have seen all of Miyazaki’s films but still have a couple other Ghibli movies to see, I’ve decided to just post this Miyazaki list. It was a hard list to make since there isn’t a Miyazaki movie I don’t like. So here they are, all of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies ranked from least best to most best.
11) Ponyo – It feels odd to call Ponyo the worst anything. This is a fine movie, I just think Miyazaki has done a lot of the stuff he did in this movie better in other films, like Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro.
10) Howl’s Moving Castle – This may have the lest compelling central plot of any of his films, but it also has some very well realized characters and some truly astounding sequences, but it doesn’t come together with quite the force of some of the other films on this list.
9) Nausicaa – This is an amazing film in terms of scope and imagination, but it feels like there are big chunks of story hacked out of it. It is a movie that feels like it is trying to do a little too much.
8) Spirited Away – Endlessly charming and visually amazing; I don’t know that I have anything else to say. Spirited Away is great.
7) My Neighbor Totoro – A low key, heartfelt film that is just perfect at being what it sets out to be.
6) Princess Mononoke – Easily his most epic, this is also Miyazaki’s most labored. It is epic and amazing at times, but can also be heavy handed.
5) Castle of Cagliostro – This is likely to be the shocker, a personal favorite of mine that is objectively one of Miyazaki’s weaker films. Still, for just sheer fun and excitement I don’t know that there is a movie on this list that surpasses it. It is a delightful, if slight, romp.
4) The Wind Rises – While this is based on a historical figure, it also feels like one of Miyazaki’s most personal films. It still has many of his prominent themes, like an anti-war message and inventive flying machines, but it also feels like an artist looking back on his work and wondering about his legacy. Just excellent.
3) Kiki’s Delivery Service – My favorite of his young girl comes of age movies. It is just so charming.
2) Laputa: Castle in the Sky – This feels like a refinement of Nausicaa. It is the last and best of Miyazaki’s early action movies and is just an endlessly rewatchable delight. It is also directly or indirectly the inspiration of nearly all of my favorite video games, which I guess means something.
1) Porco Rosso – This movie is it. It has a perfect melancholic story, with Porco’s survivor’s guilt keeping him from moving on with this life and dealing with the rise of fascism in Europe. It has some gorgeous flying sequences and vistas. Every character manages to feel bully formed and like the movie is holding something back about them. I really just love every part of this movie