Believe it or not, it’s once again time to gear up for that contentious season when the Academy picks its best movies of 2011. And as “for your consideration” campaigns are launched, we figured we’d throw our hats into the ring in hopes of adding one critical category to the famed ceremony. There’s a group of hard-working unsung heroes that has yet to be recognized by the Oscars – they act in multiple languages, do their own stunts, play well with special effects teams and require minimal on-set pampering. Also: they’re adorable.
Ladies and gentleman of the Academy, for your consideration: Best Supporting Canine!
But, wait – hear us out! It was an incredible year for dogs in cinema – here, we plead the case with our ten favorite four-legged thespians of 2011 (in order of preference).
10: Bernie Kosar the beagle in “I Am Number Four”
Perhaps because he was bestowed with the name of a famous NFL quarterback by hottie Alex Pettyfer (Number Four), Bernie has a knack for standing by his man. He also doubles as a shape-shifter. Talk about multitasking!
9: Yellow Lab puppies in “Bridesmaids”
These little guys and gals were only puppies when they were slapped with bow ties, given away as party favors at Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding shower, then promptly hoarded, thrown into a van and loudly urged to “Heel!” by Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Considering all they endured during the early months of their lives, a group statuette is in order!
8: Willie Nelson the Golden Retriever in “Our Idiot Brother”
It’s a lot of pressure playing the crux of an entire story, but Willie Nelson shoulders it beautifully. The unbreakable bond between Willie and his naive owner Ned (Paul Rudd) fuels Ned’s plight through the heartwarming ensemble comedy.
7: Skeletor the healing Greyhound in “50/50”
Poor Skeletor had it rough from the beginning. He went from unwanted race dog to pity gift from Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) to her boyfriend, cancer patient Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to the one remaining burden of the couple’s failed relationship. And he was charged with healing Adam’s cancer, on top of it all.
6: Dolce in “Young Adult”
This chicly-named mini Pomeranian (presumably of the Gabbanas) bears the brunt of her selfish owner Mavis’s (Charlize Theron) haphazard ownership. One minute, she’s locked out on the balcony, the next she’s stuffed into a tiny carrying bag, then next she’s left alone in a hotel room. And, through it all, she puts on a brave tail-wagging, face-licking front.
5: Maximilian the Doberman Pinscher in “Hugo”
Maximilian went above and beyond – patrolling a Paris train station with his owner the Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) by day and lending strong-but-silent advice to him in the bath by night. Honestly, would you be brave enough to venture into sudsy water with Borat?
4: Arthur the Jack Russell Terrier in “Beginners”
We totally understand Arthur’s inability to be left alone – after all, his best friend – owner Hal Fields (Christopher Plummer) dies and he’s sent to live with Hal’s son Oliver (Ewan McGregor). What ensues is something of a buddy dramedy between Arthur and Oliver, complete with full subtitled dialogues and advice-swapping speeches. Perhaps if he wins a statue, Arthur will never again have to wonder, “Are we married yet?”
3: Jack Russell Terrier in "The Artist"
Unlike Arthur, this pooch doesn’t require subtitles to portray his pluckiness. Actor George Valentin’s (Jean Dujardin) right-hand man’s best friend steals the silent film’s spotlight with his acrobatic tricks and emphatic barks. Plus, we already know he looks good in black and white – that red carpet-gracing tux will definitely land him on the “best dressed” list.
2: Snowy the White Fox Terrier in “The Adventures of Tintin”
He may be animated, but he’s no dummy – adventure-seeking journalist Tintin’s mystery-solving sidekick is always one step ahead of his master. (And he can tame dogs twice his size in a single bound!) Just keep the medicinal alcohol out of his reach…
1: Wolf-looking Motherf---ers in “Attack the Block”
Alright, so the film’s fur-covered, four-legged, neon-mouthed aliens may not technically be dogs (director Joe Cornish has noted that the creatures were inspired by the graphics on the side of a “Space Invaders” arcade game, SNES game “Another World,” and the backlit silhouette of his jet black pet cat), but the infamous catchphrase used to describe the movie’s protagonists lands them in the canine family. Plus, we’re kind of afraid not to award them the top spot (we value our throats, after all!)
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t include our honorable mention: Jacob, your friendly neighborhood werewolf next door in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.” (We couldn’t resist.)
So there you have it! Throw a dog a bone, Academy?
List your favorite movie dogs of 2011 in the comments and on Twitter!