The Paw d’Or – Woofington Salutes Animal Actors

Animals rule the Oscars this year. As often happens, they dominate the category for Best Animated Film — A Cat in Paris and Puss in Boots, one Kung Fu Panda and a Rango, a lizard. But animal actors also made a real impact in the films nominated for Best Picture and other awards. There’d have been no War Horse without the equine actors or Rise of the Planet of the Apes without simian inspiration. Hugo featured a black Doberman as the gendarme’s sidekick, Maximilian. Jack, the Jack Russell terrier in The Artist (Uggie in real life), nearly upstaged his human co-star, Jean Dujardin, who’s nominated for Best Actor. (Though not everyone loved the way Uggie chewed up the scenery in the film: The Case Against Uggie the Dog by Forrest Wickham, Slate, December 5, 2011.) Cosmo, who played Arthur in Beginners, was such a charmer he convinced co-star Ewan MacGregor to adopt a small poodle mix on the last day of filming and inspired co-star Christopher Plummer to thank him when he won the Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes. As an aside, despite decent reviews and a strong performance by newcomer Hummer, a Pomeranian, Young Adult, with Charlize Theron, was mostly shut out of the Oscar nominations. Hummer was found on the streets of New York by the film’s director, Jason Reitman. “You know why I chose the dog?” he explained to The New York Times,“Because a Pomeranian is the only dog that has to smile, genetically. Imagine, this woman chose a dog that no matter what she did to it, no matter what she said to it, all the dog ever did was smile back to her.” While there are special award ceremonies, including The Golden Collar where Uggie took top honors and Pawscar, where Uggie was nominated for The Artist and Water for Elephants and the Best Ensemble Cast was taken by the menagerie from We Bought a Zoo, I can’t help but wonder: Is it time for a new Oscar category — Best Performance by An Animal?

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