The Boy and the Heron Wins Best Animated at the Golden Globes

The Boy and the Heron Wins Best Animated at the Golden Globes

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Hisaishi Joe, and characters from The Boy and the Heron and Suzume, superimposed upon a gold background next to the logo of the 2024 Golden Globe awards.
Anime is having a moment at the Golden Globes Awards, with three nominations - and a victory!

Film awards season is upon us yet again, as the movies and shows of 2023 vie for recognition and prestige. Kicking off major televised awards are the Golden Globes, often considered a 2nd-rung preview to the Academy Awards, but influential nonetheless. Although a fairly USA-centric exercise, the awards do represent a chance for non-American media to break out and gain prestige. And this year, Japanese films have had three chances to do just that. The results were positive – Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron took home the statue for Best Animated, the first time an anime film has ever won at the Golden Globes.

The major focus for those interested in Japanese film this year was the “Best Motion Picture – Animated” category. This year, two films managed to break into the category – something only two Japanese films have ever previously done. (A pretty stark contrast with the Oscars, where Ghibli films have managed nominations most years they’ve come out. What anime previously received Golden Globe noms? Just Yuasasa Masaaki’s Inu-Oh in 2022 and Hosoda Mamoru’s Mirai in 2018.)

Amidst controversies over the restricted voter base and a lack of representation, the newly restructured Golden Globes nominated two Japanese films for best animated: Shinkai Makoto’s Suzume, and Miyazaki Hayao’s The Boy and the Heron. (previously called How Do You Live.) We have reviews of both films, which we found to be great viewing experiences.

But anime nominations weren’t limited to the animated film category. Hisaishi Joe, legendary composer for all of Miyazaki Hayao’s Ghibli films, nabbed a Best Original Score nomination for The Boy and the Heron. Hisaishi is beloved the world over for his iconic film scores; to finally get recognition from one of the big North American award shows is a big deal – even though he didn’t take home the award in the end. (It instead went to Ludwig Göransson for his score to Oppenheimer.)

Anime at the Awards

Three nominations in a single year vs. two in the rest of Golden Globes history; it’s a bit strange to consider. Comparatively, over at the Academy Awards, Miyazaki alone has taken three nominations and one historic win. (That being for Spirited Away in 2002, the second year that award category existed. Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli has had five nominations overall.) Miyazaki was also the recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 2014. He was even the subject of the Academy Museum’s first major exhibit.

Watch our video on Miyazaki’s rocky relationship with the Oscars on our YouTube channel.

Yet somehow, Miyazaki, one of the world’s most celebrated film directors, never received a nomination until this year. It’s well-deserved (as is the nomination for Hisaishi, which is just as exciting).

Shinkai Makoto, director of Suzume, has also been one of the biggest names in global animation over the past decade. His 2016 film Your Name was a smash critical and financial success well beyond Japan’s shores. It’s good to see Suzume’s success acknowledged; we’ll see if the Oscars do so as well.


Major Competition

Going into the awards, The Boy and the Heron had some very positive buzz. It’d already taken home some major honors in North America. Numerous local critics associations had already named it Best Animated of 2023; amongst these were those of New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, and more. It even won best picture overall from the Florida Film Critics Circle, the first animated film to ever do so. [1]

From a critical and buzz standpoint, though one film posed a clear challenge. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the dazzling and layered sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. A critical and fan darling, Across the Spider-Verse was also one of the few theatrical films to really break out at the box office this year, taking in $690,516,673 worldwide. [2] It’s also received its fair share of awards.

Other nominees wouldn’t appear as major critical competition. The Super Mario Bros. Movie, despite a huge billion-plus global box office and strong fan reaction, didn’t exactly receive warm critical accolades. Disney’s Wish has fared even worse, being the media giant’s worst-reviewed mainstream animated film in some time. Suzume, comperatively, has been very well received, but just didn’t have the buzz of Heron or Spider-Verse.

Watch our review of Suzume.

An Honor Just to Be Nominated

The Golden Globes are a big deal, but the next step in award season kudos-taking will be at the Oscars in February. We’ll have to wait to see what gets nominated; but, hopefully, the Golden Globes will prove a good bellwether for things to come. (That is, of course, if you think these sorts of awards matter at all.)

Win or lose, though, one thing is sure; anime has never been so mainstream. Not just in terms of viewership, which grows every year, but in terms of English-language critical attention. For years, it was said only Ghibli could grab enough attention to get nominated. That hasn’t been the case for some years, though. Anime is getting attention, and Japanese media continues to reap the dividends of global viewership and praise.


[1] Hazra, Adriana. (2023-12-25). The Boy and the Heron Becomes 1st Animated Film to Win Best Picture at Florida Critics Circle. Anime News Network.

[2] Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023). Box Office Mojo. (Retrieved 01/07/2024.)

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Noah Oskow

Serving as current UJ Editor-in-Chief, Noah Oskow is a professional Japanese translator and interpreter who holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures. He has lived, studied, and worked in Japan for nearly seven years, including two years studying at Sophia University in Tokyo and four years teaching English on the JET Program in rural Fukushima Prefecture. His experiences with language learning and historical and cultural studies as well as his extensive experience in world travel have led to appearances at speaking events, popular podcasts, and in the mass media. Noah most recently completed his Master's Degree in Global Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria.

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