From Up on Poppy Hill
Nostalgic beauty rules this latest from the gentle animation juggernaut Studio Ghibli, in which Japan's children of World War II come of age and come to terms with their country's past. The setting is a nation readying for the 1964 Olympics and eager for acclimation in the modern world. The plot is a sweet and simple high-school love story: Sparks delicately fly between sensitive classmates (voiced by Sarah Bolger and Anton Yelchin). As live-action, director Goro Miyazaki's tale (from a graphic novel by Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsurô Sayama) would seem too slight, its past-becomes-future theme too obvious. Given the Ghibli touch, however, it's gloriously light—long on reflective sincerity and tastefully moderated melodrama, short on all the panicked solicitation of kids' attention that's so common in American animated films. Among the lovingly detailed, light-dappled landscapes, other voices come through clearly, too, including those of Gillian Anderson, Beau Bridges, Christina Hendricks and Chris Noth.