‘Mononoke’ wins Japan’s best pic

Animated pic a first, 'Titanic' receives nod

TOKYO — Japan’s all-time box office champ “Princess Mononoke” won the Japanese Academy Award for best picture of 1997, becoming the first animated film to get the nod.

“Princess,” from esteemed animator Hayao Miyazaki, took in a record $152 million at the domestic box office during its run, surpassing attendance and box office records previously held by “E.T. The Extraterrestrial.”

“The Eel,” which shared the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1997, lost out on the best picture award in Japan. However, helmer Shohei Imamura picked up the award for best director, while star Koji Yakusho added another Japan Academy prize to his collection for best actor in the role of a convicted murderer trying to reform himself.

Hitomi Kuroki won the best actress award for “Shitsurakuen,” the story of an extramarital affair that started a tryst boom in Japan. In the movie she played opposite Yakusho, who appeared in four films that received nominations in the 11th annual awards presentation.

The best foreign picture went to “Titanic,” which made its world premiere at the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival in November.

“Welcome Back Mr. McDonald,” from new director Koki Mitani, picked up awards for best supporting actor, screenplay and sound.

The big winner at the previous Japan Academy Awards ceremony was “Shall We Dance?,” which went on to become one of Japan’s most successful movie exports.