NY Critics Howl for Miyazaki Pic

The New York Film Critics’ Circle announced its 2005 winners on Monday, naming Hayao Miyazaki’s traditionally animated Howl’s Moving Castle Best Animated Feature. Miyazaki’s 2003 release, Spirited Away, was the critical favorite that year and went on to win the Academy Award for feature animation.

Based on a fantasy book by Diana Wynne Jones and scripted by Reiko Yoshida, Howl’s Moving Castle centers on an enchanted 18-year-old girl who becomes trapped inside the body of an old woman and encounters with a wizard named who inhabits a magical moving castle. Though Disney’s U.S. release made little money, the film was a huge hit in Japan and received the Hollywood Film Festival’s Animation of the Year award earlier this year.

Over the weekend, both the New York Film Critics Online and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave their Best Animated Feature awards to DreamWorks Animation’s and Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box, the clay-animated romp leads the nominations for this year’s Annie Awards and may be Oscar bound unless Howl’s Moving Castle builds up more awards season steam.