"The Wind Rises" — the latest and purportedly final film from legendary Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki — has a big weekend ahead of it. On Friday, the English-language version of the film opens in theaters nationwide, and then on Sunday, it's up for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
The 72-year-old Miyazaki has stated that he will officially retire from directing after "The Wind Rises," his 11th feature and the most successful Japanese film in that country last year. Miyazaki is the undisputed modern master of hand-drawn animation, and he said his labor-intensive style is too strenuous to continue. But he leaves behind a legacy of some of the most beautiful and widely acclaimed animated films of all time.
"The Wind Rises" is unique in Miyazaki's filmography in that it is inspired by a true story. It's a fictionalized take on the life of Jiro Horikoshki, an aeronautical engineer who designed airplanes in the 1930s and '40s that were far ahead of their time. In the English version, Joseph Gordon-Levitt provides the voice of Jiro. Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Stanley Tucci, Elijah Wood and Martin Short also lend their voices to the new edition.
It's Miyazaki's third nomination for the Best Animated Feature Oscar since the category was created in 2001. He won the award in 2002 for his lush, dark fairy tale, "Sprited Away." This year, the odds look to be in favor of Disney's "Frozen" (Walt Disney Pictures is also distributing "The Wind Rises" in the U.S.), but there is a chance the Academy might want to recognize the grand master Miyazaki one last time.
"The Wind Rises" will be in theaters nationwide on Friday.
Tune in to Yahoo's live Oscars pre-show this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, and then watch the big show on ABC.