The animated short of the year surely must be Domee Shi’s “Bao” [IMDb|official site], a by turns bittersweet and startling reverie on motherhood that features one of the most hilariously shocking moments onscreen this year. When a Chinese woman’s handmade dumpling, or bao, sprouts a face and a little body, she raises it as her own child, only to face the usual chagrin when her little friend begins to assert his independence and individuality. I’d be delighted if it won the Oscar… and I think it will. [watch at Amazon US|iTunes US|iTunes Can]
The other nominees:
• “Weekends” [IMDb|official site], by Trevor Jimenez, a dreamlike and occasionally outright nightmarish stream-of-consciousness look at one year in the life of a child of divorce bouncing between two homes and two parents with their own diverging lives. [watch at Amazon US|Amazon UK|iTunes US|iTunes Can|iTunes UK|Kanopy]
• “One Small Step” [IMDb|official site] by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas, a lovely ode to a young girl’s losing faith in her dream of becoming an astronaut, and finding it again when reminded of how totally supportive her father was of her ambitions. [watch at Amazon US|Amazon UK|iTunes US|iTunes Can|iTunes UK]
• “Animal Behaviour” [IMDb|official site], by Alison Snowden and David Fine, a rather obvious peek in on a group therapy session in which various mammals and insects discuss their personal problems… which are their defining characteristics as animals (a praying mantis can’t get a date because she eats her partners after sex; a cat is obsessed with self-grooming); I kept expecting a punchline or a twist that never came.