At the theater where I watched the 2019 Academy Award animated short film nominees, all five seemed to be well received, but I’d say the two that elicited the most favorable audience responses and that I heard people talking about the most afterward were Bao and One Small Step. (I thought all five were at least pretty good. If I had to pick a favorite, perhaps I’d go with Late Afternoon, but Bao and One Small Step were fine too.)
I was not at all surprised that these would be popular favorites. Both are positive, upbeat, heartwarming films with a bit of humor. Crowd-pleaser types, in other words.
Both are about parent-child relations, and how they can evolve and go through ups and downs as a child ages, with both culminating in happy endings where any generational conflict is resolved and the child comes to appreciate the parent’s love. Both children are Asian; in Bao it’s a Chinese boy and his Chinese mother, and in One Small Step it’s a Chinese girl and her Anglo father.
Luna grows up dreaming of being an astronaut. (Not surprising, given her name.) Her father is fully supportive of this. As she gets older, her confidence is not always so high, and her relationship with her father is not always so close. But both bounce back in time.
One Small Step is a well-done film. Like Bao, it’s genuinely sweet. It’s a simple, inspirational tale about a child following her dreams, which I suppose will seem corny to some, but it worked for me.