The Oscar for Best Animated Short Film isn’t one of the main Oscar categories, but this year, it is getting some buzz for the short, Bao, which you might have seen before Incredibles 2 last summer. It was easily one of the more heartwarming and, honestly, tear-jerking Pixar shorts I’ve seen in a while. And now, fans are likely wondering if Bao is on Netflix and how you can watch the Oscar-nominated short from the comfort of your own home.
I wouldn't say no to a feature-length version of the short, but if that never happens, the next best thing would be to rewatch it without needing to go to the theater for another movie’s showing first. Unfortunately, Bao is not on Netflix right now. The streaming platform is known more for offering full-length content in the form of TV shows and movies rather than animated shorts. It’s not fair, I know, and how else am I going to get out all of my tears to make room for more before The Lion King remake comes to theaters?
Bao is the heartwarming Pixar short that will bring grown adults to tears within the first few minutes of watching it. It’s about a Chinese-Canadian mother who is lonely after her only son moving away. When a baozi, which is a form of dumpling, comes to life, she has a renewed sense of purpose to take care of and raise the little dumpling child. He eventually grows up to be a sullen teenager and then adult who brings home a girlfriend.
When the son tries to leave the house again, the mother suddenly eats him. Since, you know, he’s still a delicious dumpling and not a human. Later, the mother is laying in bed and her adult son, who resembles the baozi, enters the room and it’s revealed that the sequence was all part of an allegorical dream. After the father urges the son to go to his mother, they sit on the bed and finally come together.
As a mother to a little boy, I can totally relate to the dread of seeing him grow up and move away, no longer needing me. And there is a fine line between wanting your child to flourish and trying hard not to smother them. Or, in Bao’s case, eat them. Even if you’ve already seen it, you are definitely going to want to watch it again.
Bao marks the first animated short presented by a female director, Domee Shi, so the Oscar nomination is that much more special. Shi told Deadline that her inspiration for Bao came from her own love for Chinese culture and dark fairytales like Thumbelina and The Gingerbread Man.
"I wanted to do a modern version of that — my take on that — and I think all of that went into making Bao," she said. "It was a personal story, but that personal element came after I decided, 'Oh, I want to do my own fairy tale. I want to make a short that has all of these elements.' I incorporated more personal elements into it to flesh out the story, and give the characters more depth."
Since Bao is a short film, it hasn't been released on its own, but it is part of the Pixar Short Films Collection, Vol. 3 Blu-ray. The collection itself isn't on Netflix at this time, however Netflix does have Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection, so it’s possible that Netflix could eventually get the rights to stream Pixar Short Films Collection, Vol. 3.
Bao might not be on Netflix now, but if it snags the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, Netflix might try to snag the rights to stream it exclusively.