4. Grave of the Fireflies
It’s a testament to Miyazaki’s stature that the first three Ghibli films on the list are all directed by him, and also to the supreme talent of the other directors that their films rise above some of his other tremendous work. Directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder, the legendary Isao Takahata, Grave of the Fireflies is the most painful and emotional movie in the canon; it is also one of the greatest war movies ever made, using animation to deftly explore the how war victimizes children. Opening and closing shots, both of which express the uncaring nature of bystanders (and by extension, the world) toward children cause us to wonder what we really feel about the world’s most vulnerable population.