Tonari no Totoro (1988)
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very good in many ways :) movies don't need bad guys all the time, and I love the characters, kids just being noisy and curious, a father who is caring, patient and taking his kids seriously... it's very simple, but all precious life lessons are simple as far as I can tell.
Plain? That's not even true by Miyazaki's standards. This is one of the most imaginative, charming, and beautiful films out there.
An obvious companion piece to the later Spirited Away. In this charming and touching tale, little girls encounter magic after they move to the countryside, and there's a delightful ambiguity as to whether it's all in their imagination or if it's happening for real, supported by their parents encouraging them in their fantasies. Miyazaki's own imagination is, of course, second to none, and the pastoral realism of the country is contrasted with such maverick insanity as the cat-bus. Audiences more used to his later fantasies may find the image-making relatively timid, but this is more about children's imagination, finding the magical in the every day, and even sharing the illusion. Creating a believable "every day" is key. The film is melancholy, but it's not sad (watch the end credits for the comforting ending), like your own memories of simpler days.
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In 23 official lists
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This movie ranks #6 in iCheckMovies's 1980s Top 100
This movie ranks #9 in Paste's The 100 Best Anime Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #23 in IMDb's Animation Top 50
This movie ranks #25 in Pixar Directors Recommend: Films for Kids Under 13
This movie ranks #26 in IMDb's Family Top 50
This movie ranks #27 in IMDb's 1980s Top 50
This movie ranks #30 in OFCS's Top 100 Animated Features of All Time
This movie ranks #31 in IMDb's Fantasy Top 50
This movie ranks #39 in BIFF's Asian Cinema 100
This movie ranks #44 in IMDb's Comedy Top 50
This movie ranks #45 in Empire's The 100 Best Films of World Cinema
This movie ranks #55 in BFI's 100 Animated Feature Films
This movie ranks #56 in Kinema Junpo's Top 200 Japanese Films
This movie ranks #60 in Kinema Junpo Award - Best Japanese Film
This movie ranks #91 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #99 in Akira Kurosawa's A Dream Is a Genius
This movie ranks #146 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #156 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #175 in IMDb's Top 250
This movie ranks #186 in Reddit Top 250
This movie ranks #261 in Tom Vick's Asian Cinema: A Field Guide
This movie ranks #275 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #639 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life