1. Howl's Moving Castle
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Synopsis: One day, a rather dashing wizard rescues a local girl who works in a hat shop. The girl, Sophie, is quite taken with the young man. This sparks the ire of a malevolent witch who casts a spell on Sophie, turning her into an old lady. Unable to speak of the curse, Sophie seeks out the only man who can save her.
Overview: With its European-style architecture and fashion, Hayao Miyazaki’s adventurous film benefits from his keen eye for detail. Miyazaki says this is his favourite of his own movies, and it captures an atmosphere quite different from any of his other films. The titular castle is a marvel of steampunk design, spluttering out grey fumes as it traverses war-torn landscapes. One of the more modern Ghibli movies, the animation has a warm and colourful sheen that’s very easy on the eyes. The English dub is particularly noteworthy, with Billy Crystal providing an irrepressibly fun turn as an easily-excitable fire spirit.