Much of that has to be accredited to his inimitable stylistic approach. The sheer imagination, inventiveness, humour, colour, and fluency of his animation qualifies Ponyo as the most dazzling movie of the year thus far. Not to be forgotten is his long-time composer Joe Hisaishi, who produces a tender and truly magical musical score.
Some may criticize Ponyo as not living up to its potential, or for not being as deeply allegorical or adult-oriented as some of Miyazaki's previous masterpieces, but that doesn't mean Ponyo is childish. It still includes some of the director’s favourite themes, such as children learning independence and humanity's detriment to the natural world. But to rely on those too heavily would undermine the warmth, humour, and golden cuteness of this lovable fable.
Can Disney nab an Animated Feature nod for Ponyo? That depends on a couple of things: If there are five slots in the category this year, it'll get in. If there are three, Disney will have to campaign harder for it, but with Up and The Princess and the Frog already on their plate, that may not happen.
*** out of ****