And after that terrible first impression, let’s get the story straight from the beginning. There is a campaign for a dog to win an Academy Award.
Had a second to think about it?
Okay now that the most bizarre part’s out of the way, let’s talk about the dog in question. Here’s the jack russell terrier named Uggie.
Look at him, all happy and jumpy, and he should be. Well, because he’s a dog, so that’s only natural, but also due to the fact that he’s becoming a household name. You may remember this guy from Mr Fix. It (but I highly doubt it) and Water for Elephants. No, not really. We all know where this guy really got popular: With the wonderful film The Artist. Without a question, Uggie is a main character. I don’t see that role as being nearly as important if it were a human instead. Something about Uggie just fit so seamlessly. I mean, why not? If what lighting or what vegetation is in a shot is important, or how well combed an actor’s hair is, why can’t an animal be important? I find in many films that animals are never used to their full potential except in rare situations (this being a very good example).
While this is all well and good, this is where things get a bit strange. So, Uggie won the Palm Dog award at the Cannes film festival. Actually, I lied. This isn’t the strange part yet. This is actually a common event of novel purposes that happens annually at the Cannes Film festival and has been going on for just over ten years now. Pretty much the dog “actor of the year” takes the prize, but do you want to see how seriously they take it? Dug, from Up, won in 2009, beating out the memorable performances by “Talking Fox” in Antichrist and “Black Poodle” in Inglourious Basterds (there was a black poodle?). So, a dog that wasn’t even a dog ended up winning, and Andy Serkis still hasn’t been nominated (okay, I’ll stop with that). So you can see how important this truly is to the people at Cannes, right? Now here comes the strange part. Apparently it’s not important enough.
I don’t think Uggie is having an issue with being in the spotlight, or not being in it enough rather, but a hoard of super fans that have come out of nowhere seem to think the latter. There’s a movement called “Consider Uggie” on facebook and twitter that, well, speaks for itself. Or does it? Unlike the honorary mention that Cannes gave Uggie, fans are wanting more than just a side prize, with some comments suggesting that he wins for best supporting actor, and I quote: “Is there any rule that a supporting actor has to be human?”. There was an upset with the golden globes where The Artist garnered many nominations, and the admin of the page commented “Congrats to ‘The Artist’ on 6 Golden Globe nominations… but where’s Uggie’s?”. Hell, Moviefone decided to give him a shot and gave him an honorary last place-spot on the performances of 2011 (which delighted all of the fans in the group).
Now, before I ask the absurd question, here’s some food for thought. Yes, Uggie is adorable and adds so much to a scene. You can’t say he doesn’t just because he’s an animal. If you come home from a long day at work or school and your dog comes to greet you, would it not make everything seem better? Well, I don’t have a dog so I wouldn’t know, but I’d guess it would seem that way. Anyways, Uggie is of importance in this film without question. However, here’s me playing the devil’s advocate. Have you heard of Omar Von Muller? Probably not (I hadn’t until I did research on this whole issue). Well, simply put, he is the trainer that adopted Uggie when he was abandoned at a dog shelter by his previous owners.
So both Von Muller and Uggie lucked out. Von Muller found an energetic pet and Uggie found a career. So Uggie is getting all of the praise, but what about Von Muller? Surely he should have some sort of praise as well, right? I mean, he can be considered just as important. I guess you could say “acting/voice coaches don’t get that kind of recognition”, but then again that’s just to help an actor and not control an actor. In order for Uggie to follow what was going on and do what was necessary in the script, Von Muller had to be there. So, shouldn’t “Consider Uggie” be promoting this guy too? They are not.
Okay, let’s say the Academy does create a new category for pets, just like Cannes did. Would it really be worth it? I mean, do I need to remind you of what went down in 2009? Uggie’s importance in The Artist was a rarity and not a reoccurring issue that is high in demand (yet). There are other categories that seem more important, like voice acting/motion capture acting (especially with the rise of animated films). Speaking of animated films, let’s talk about how the new Best Animated Film category helped save, well, animated films (I’ll stop typing that, I promise). Animated films (I lied) used to be just alright or pretty horrible, save for the odd one or two good films a year. When the Academy made a new category for the best film of this genre, there were clear favorites from the very beginning. Shrek was up against Monsters Inc. (a fair battle) and Jimmy Neutron (yikes). It was like this for many years until about 2008. Suddenly, there were a few worthy nominations, and not just Wall-E. Look at 2009 and how many great animated films were out then. A standard was set by Pixar, and 2011 will be the year Pixar will not win (sadly, Cars 2 wasn’t too great). At least the guys at Dreamworks have now pulled up their socks, and hey, even Nickelodeon tried this year. Do you think if the Academy made a section for animals that there would be a rise in quality/importance, or is it a waste of time and just a novelty, like it is at Cannes?
But the bigger question, I think, that has to be asked is if this is even all worth it? Can this issue be taken seriously?