Top Ranked Films from Japan

by LawrenceJoseSinclair | created - 29 Jun 2011 | updated - 30 Jun 2011 | Public

I took all the film polls I could find (representing over 1800!), threw them into a spreadsheet, and ranked the results. I then published a Top Ranked 1000 Films and an alpha list of all 2260 titles that made polls on my blog. I'm now making and post sub-lists like top of each decade, and each country, like this one from Japan. I only listed those that made the top 1000. The complete lists can be seen at [link]http://worldsbestfilms.blogspot.com[/link] .. "Your results may vary"

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1. Seven Samurai (1954)

Not Rated | 207 min | Adventure, Drama

98 Metascore

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Yukiko Shimazaki

Votes: 263,745 | Gross: $0.27M

The archetype of the modern action film. Ironically, it was first titled "The Magnificent Seven", then when the U.S. western remake of that name came out, the title was changed to Seven Samurai. A science fiction remake was also made, Battle Beyond the Stars.

2. Rashômon (1950)

Not Rated | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura

Votes: 123,108

Another Kurosawa classic, this examines a crime from various witnesses, and shows that each is tainted by his own perspective.

3. Ran (1985)

R | 162 min | Action, Drama

96 Metascore

In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû

Votes: 92,294 | Gross: $3.52M

A later Kurosawa, from his color epic period. Personally, I prefer his black and white films, but this and Kagemusha are very 'Shakespearean'.

4. Tokyo Story (1953)

Not Rated | 136 min | Drama

An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city; but the children have little time for them.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura, Setsuko Hara

Votes: 38,348

5. Spirited Away (2001)

PG | 125 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

96 Metascore

During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

Directors: Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise | Stars: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino, Rumi Hiiragi

Votes: 505,655 | Gross: $10.06M

This is currently the top ranked film from 2000-2010, just ahead of all three installments of Lord of the Rings.

6. Ugetsu (1953)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy, War

A tale of ambition, family, love, and war set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyô, Kinuyo Tanaka, Mitsuko Mito

Votes: 16,623 | Gross: $0.01M

One of the most haunting and unusual love stories of all time.

7. Ikiru (1952)

Not Rated | 143 min | Drama

A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka

Votes: 53,235 | Gross: $0.06M

8. Yojimbo (1961)

Not Rated | 110 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa

Votes: 89,145

9. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Not Rated | 89 min | Animation, Drama, War

A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.

Director: Isao Takahata | Stars: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara

Votes: 174,483

So far, the best anime I've seen, an adult anti-war story.

10. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

Not Rated | 124 min | Drama

In medieval Japan, a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô

Votes: 11,623

11. Throne of Blood (1957)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama

A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider's Web Castle.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura

Votes: 36,710

12. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

PG | 119 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

80 Metascore

When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin, Akihiro Miwa

Votes: 258,478 | Gross: $4.71M

13. Princess Mononoke (1997)

PG-13 | 134 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

76 Metascore

On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka, Billy Crudup

Votes: 268,954 | Gross: $2.38M

14. I Was Born, But... (1932)

Not Rated | 100 min | Comedy, Drama

91 Metascore

Two young brothers throw a tantrum when they discover that their father isn't the most important man in his workplace.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Tatsuo Saitô, Tomio Aoki, Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Hideo Sugawara

Votes: 3,864

15. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

G | 86 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

86 Metascore

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi

Votes: 215,276

16. Yôkihi (1955)

Approved | 98 min | Drama, History, Romance

In eighth century China, the Emperor is grieving over the death of his wife. The Yang family wants to provide the Emperor with a consort so that they may consolidate their influence over ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Sô Yamamura, Eitarô Shindô

Votes: 1,245

17. High and Low (1963)

Not Rated | 143 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yutaka Sada, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyôko Kagawa

Votes: 21,502

Another Kurosawa film in black and white

18. Late Spring (1949)

Not Rated | 108 min | Drama

Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka, Haruko Sugimura

Votes: 10,841

19. Ponyo (2008)

G | 101 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

86 Metascore

A five-year-old boy develops a relationship with Ponyo, a young goldfish princess who longs to become a human after falling in love with him.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Tomoko Yamaguchi

Votes: 98,917 | Gross: $15.09M

20. In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

NC-17 | 109 min | Biography, Drama, Horror

A passionate telling of the story of Sada Abe, a woman whose affair with her master led to a sexual obsession which then came to a violent end.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima | Stars: Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda, Aoi Nakajima, Yasuko Matsui

Votes: 15,206

A classic of erotocism that becomes a crime story.

21. Nobody Knows (2004)

PG-13 | 141 min | Drama

88 Metascore

In a small Tokyo apartment, twelve-year-old Akira must care for his younger siblings after their mother leaves them and shows no sign of returning.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda | Stars: Yûya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, Hiei Kimura, Momoko Shimizu

Votes: 19,258 | Gross: $0.68M

22. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939)

Not Rated | 148 min | Drama, Romance

The adopted son of a legendary actor, and an aspiring star himself, turns to his infant brother's wet nurse for support and affection - only for her to give up everything for her beloved's glory.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Shôtarô Hanayagi, Kôkichi Takada, Ryôtarô Kawanami, Kinnosuke Takamatsu

Votes: 2,496

23. The Life of Oharu (1952)

Not Rated | 133 min | Drama

Follows a woman's fight and survival amid the vicissitudes of life and the cruelty of the society.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Tsukie Matsuura, Ichirô Sugai, Toshirô Mifune

Votes: 4,861

24. Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, Thriller

An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara | Stars: Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Hiroko Itô, Kôji Mitsui

Votes: 13,501

25. Ukigumo (1955)

123 min | Drama, Romance

A tragic social drama set in post war Japan and concerns a lonely woman trying to find purpose and stability in a devastated Tokyo.

Director: Mikio Naruse | Stars: Hideko Takamine, Masayuki Mori, Mariko Okada, Isao Yamagata

Votes: 1,839

Better known as Floating Clouds in the west

26. Dersu Uzala (1975)

G | 142 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

The Russian army sends an explorer on an expedition to the snowy Siberian wilderness where he makes friends with a seasoned local hunter.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Maksim Munzuk, Yuriy Solomin, Mikhail Bychkov, Vladimir Khrulev

Votes: 19,959

A Kurosawa film in color, an adventure about a Siberian guide

27. Castle in the Sky (1986)

PG | 125 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill

Votes: 117,470

28. Kagemusha (1980)

PG | 162 min | Drama, History, War

A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord's double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara, Jinpachi Nezu

Votes: 26,734

29. Still Walking (2008)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama

89 Metascore

A family gathers together for a commemorative ritual whose nature only gradually becomes clear.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda | Stars: Hiroshi Abe, Yui Natsukawa, You, Kazuya Takahashi

Votes: 9,180 | Gross: $0.16M

30. An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama

An aging widower arranges a marriage for his only daughter.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada, Mariko Okada

Votes: 5,965

31. The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Not Rated | 126 min | Adventure, Drama

Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines. However, they do not realize that their companions are actually a princess and her general.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara

Votes: 27,438

I believe George Lucas said this influenced Star Wars.

32. Jûsan-nin no shikaku (2010)

R | 141 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

84 Metascore

A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an evil lord.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yûsuke Iseya, Ikki Sawamura

Votes: 55,868 | Gross: $0.80M

33. Harakiri (1962)

Not Rated | 133 min | Action, Drama, History

An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Tetsurô Tanba

Votes: 22,228

There are, unfortunately, many films with this title, make sure you see the one from director Masaki Kobayashi (others may also be worth seeing..)

34. Children of Hiroshima (1952)

97 min | Drama, War

86 Metascore

Post war Hiroshima: It's been four years since the last time she visited her hometown. Takako faces the after effects of the A-bomb when she travels around the city to call on old friends.

Director: Kaneto Shindô | Stars: Nobuko Otowa, Osamu Takizawa, Masao Shimizu, Jûkichi Uno

Votes: 779

Known in the west as Children of Hiroshima

35. Akira (1988)

R | 124 min | Animation, Action, Drama

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath that only two teenagers and a group of psychics can stop.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda

Votes: 125,783 | Gross: $0.55M

What, anime from someone other than Hayao Miyazaki? he's gonna hear about this!

36. Red Beard (1965)

Not Rated | 185 min | Drama

In 19th century Japan, a rough tempered yet charitable town doctor trains a young intern.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yûzô Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Reiko Dan

Votes: 13,170

Yet another b&w film from Kurosawa. After Seven Samurai, Stray Dogs is my favorite.

37. Kuroi ame (1989)

Not Rated | 123 min | Drama

The story of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, based on Masuji Ibuse's novel.

Director: Shôhei Imamura | Stars: Yoshiko Tanaka, Kazuo Kitamura, Etsuko Ichihara, Shôichi Ozawa

Votes: 2,507

There are many films with this title, including the western one with Michael Douglas released the same year as this Japanese film! Good grief..