Renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki won the genre's best film award at the U.S. Golden Globes competition on Sunday, marking his comeback as the winner of a major international contest.

The 124-minute fantasy "The Boy and the Heron" marked the first time a film by a Japanese director has won the award in the category that was created in 2007.

Image shows a scene from Hayao Miyazaki's "The Boy and The Heron." (Studio Ghibli/GKIDS/AP/Kyodo)

Toshio Suzuki, producer of Studio Ghibli Inc., Miyazaki's production company, said the win "feels exceptional" and expressed hope that it will provide "bright news" amid unfortunate events in Japan since the start of the year.

Miyazaki, an Oscar-winning animator, announced his retirement in 2013 after producing "The Wind Rises" but began making the full-length film in 2017.

Hayao Miyazaki. (Kyodo)

Written and directed by the 83-year-old Miyazaki, the latest film was also the first original anime in history to top the North American box office after its release in December, according to U.S. media.

The film follows a fictitious Japanese boy, Mahito, during World War II. After Mahito's mother dies he moves to a new town where he meets a talking heron that takes him to a magical tower where he enters a fantasy world.

The Golden Globes win makes the Miyazaki movie a leading candidate for the best animated feature film prize at the U.S. Academy Awards in March.

The film beat out other animated features such as "Suzume," directed by Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."

The Golden Globe award is one of many accolades in Miyazaki's long career in animated filmmaking. He was awarded the Golden Bear, the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, in 2002 and an Oscar the following year for "Spirited Away."

A long queue forms at a cinema in Tokyo on the morning of July 14, 2023, as renowned Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's animation film "Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka" (The Boy and the Heron) is released in Japan. (Kyodo)

In 2014, Miyazaki became the second Japanese film director to receive an Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, following Akira Kurosawa.

The Golden Globe for best drama film went to Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer," which depicts the life of physicist Robert Oppenheimer, known as the "father of the atomic bomb."

While the three-hour biopic proved a smash hit in the United States, online memes combining its promotional imagery with that of the comedy "Barbie," which appeared to mock the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, caused a backlash in Japan.

The bombings of the Japanese cities in August 1945 caused an estimated 210,000 deaths by the end of that year.

"Oppenheimer" will be released in Japan this year.

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