Hayao Miyazaki wins best animated feature Oscar for ‘The Boy and the Heron’

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Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki took home the Academy Award for best animated feature Sunday night for “The Boy and the Heron,” maintaining his spot as the only Asian director to ever triumph in the category. 

Miyazaki, 83, a legendary animator known for co-founding Studio Ghibli, won in 2002 for his film “Spirited Away.” He won his first Golden Globe this year for “The Boy and the Heron,” which topped the North American box office when it was released in December and grossed $168 million worldwide.

The film, partly based on Miyazaki’s childhood, follows a 12-year-old boy who lost his mother during World War II. An encounter with a talking heron who tells him his mother is still alive leads him to a world where he can interact with the dead.

“If he hadn’t made this film, he wouldn’t have been able to die a happy man,” Studio Ghibli president and co-founder Toshio Suzuki told The Hollywood Reporter last month.

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Fans of Miyazaki’s celebrated works, like “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” fear “The Boy and the Heron” might be his final film as retirement rumors swirl. But he has already “retired” and then come back multiple times, most recently for the seven-year production of “The Boy and the Heron.”

Directors of Asian descent nominated in the best animated feature category have included Domee Shi in 2022 for “Turning Red,” Mamoru Hosoda in 2018 for “Mirai,” Isao Takahata in 2014 for “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” and Jennifer Yuh Nelson in 2011 for “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

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