Roger Ebert’s Japanese Film Reviews

Roger Ebert is possibly the world’s best-known film critic and has been at it for years, contributing reliable reviews and critical analysis that many English-speaking film-goers turn to when in doubt about what to spend their money on.  He has a massive collection of reviews on his website, over 6,400 according to movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.  Roger Ebert’s collection of reviews includes a large amount of foreign films, many of which are Japanese.  He lists Ozu Yasujiro as one of his favorite directors, so his films are well-represented, but he seems to also have a penchant for Koreeda Hirokazu, Miyazaki Hayao, Kurosawa Akira, and other Japanese greats such as Mizoguchi and Imamura.

This was a difficult list to put together.  The idea came to me as I was sitting at work, wondering if Ebert’s review database was sortable or searchable in some way.  I arrived at home to find that it is tough to pinpoint his reviews of Japanese films, though searching the website can net a few.  So, I poured over countless reviews to find the Japanese films represented in this list.  It’s probably not a perfect representation–I’m sure I missed some–but there is a wealth of great films along with Roger Ebert’s expert opinions and analysis here.  Although I don’t agree with him on everything, he is mostly spot-on.  Ebert has seen a great amount of Japanese masterpieces and you’ll notice that out of the 61 films on this list, 52 of them received a rating of three stars or higher (out of four) or are on his “Great Movies” list.  Truly a great list for anybody interested in foreign and masterful cinema.

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My Neighbor Totoro (1993) — Miyazaki — Great Movies

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) — Great Movies

Ran (1985) — Kurosawa — Great Movies

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) — Schrader — Great Movies

Vengeance Is Mine (1979) — Imamura — Great Movies

Samurai Rebellion (1967) — Kobayashi — Great Movies

Yojimbo (1961) — Kurosawa — Great Movies

Floating Weeds (1959) — Ozu — Great Movies

The Seven Samurai (1954) — Kurosawa — Great Movies

Sansho the Bailiff (1954) — Mizoguchi — Great Movies

Ugetsu (1953) — Mizoguchi — Great Movies

Tokyo Story (1953) — Ozu — Great Movies

Ikiru (1952) — Kurosawa — Great Movies

Rashomon (1950) — Kurosawa — Great Movies

Late Spring (1949) — Ozu — Great Movies

The Only Son (1936) — Ozu — Great Movies

The Cove (2009) — Psihoyos — ★★★★

Departures (2008) — Takita — ★★★★

Still Walking (2008) — Koreeda — ★★★★

Ponyo (2008) — Miyazaki — ★★★★

Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) — Eastwood — ★★★★

Twilight Samurai (2002) — Yamada — ★★★★

Spirited Away (2001) — Miyazaki — ★★★★

Metropolis (2001) — Rintaro — ★★★★

After Life (1998) — Koreeda — ★★★★

Maborosi (1995) — Koreeda — ★★★★

Tampopo (1985) — Itami — ★★★★

Kagemusha (1980)  — Kurosawa — ★★★★

Red Beard (1965)  — Kurosawa — ★★★★

Tokyo Sonata (2008) — Kurosawa Kiyoshi — ★★★1/2

Big Man Japan (2007) — Matsumoto — ★★★1/2

Memories of Tomorrow (2006) — Tsutsumi — ★★★1/2

Nobody Knows (2004) — Koreeda — ★★★1/2

Three… Extremes (2004) — Chan/Park/Miike — ★★★1/2

Zatoichi (2003) — Kitano — ★★★1/2

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) — Sakaguchi — ★★★1/2

Shall We Dance? (1996) — Suo — ★★★1/2

Sonatine (1993) — Kitano — ★★★1/2

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) — Kon — ★★★

Dolls (2002) — Kitano — ★★★

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001) — Imamura — ★★★

Taboo (1999) — Oshima — ★★★

Fireworks (Hanabi) (1997) — Kitano — ★★★

Ghost In The Shell (1995)  — Oshii — ★★★

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) — Kaneko — ★★★

Madadayo (1993) — Kurosawa — ★★★

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992) — Tsukamoto — ★★★

Rhapsody In August (1991) — Kurosawa — ★★★

Roujin-Z (1991) — Kitabuko — ★★★

The Wings of Honneamise (1987) — Yamaga — ★★★

Vengeance is Mine (1979)  — Imamura — ★★★

Dodes’ka-den (1970)  — Kurosawa — ★★★

Tokyo! (2008) — Gondry/Carax/Bong Joon-ho — ★★1/2

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) — Miyazaki — ★★1/2

Kikujiro (1999) — Kitano — ★★1/2

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) — Oshima — ★★1/2

Steamboy (2004) — Otomo — ★★

All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001) — Iwai — ★★

Brother (2000) — Kitano — ★★

GODZILLA (1954) — Honda — ★1/2

Godzilla 1985 — Hashimoto —

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Also,

Ozu: The masterpieces you’ve missed

Silence is golden to Ozu

Hayao Miyazaki interview

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