Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

And the Oscar goes to…the dogs! Step aside, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. With films like The Artist, Hugo, and War Horse, this year’s Best Picture category is studded with scene-stealing performances from notable animal actors, big and small. Although animal actors are often the ones who both make a movie memorable and bring in big box office ticket sales, these hard-working four-legged stars typically go unrecognized at the Academy Awards. What gives? That’s what a lot of moviegoers this year would like to know. And with the Oscars airing this Sunday, more and more movie fans are asking, “What about Uggie?” 

Uggie on the red carpet at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. Photo Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Despite having won the hearts of millions for his performances in the silent film The Artist, which is nominated for ten academy awards, as well as Water For Elephants, the Jack Russell terrier is not expected to appear at this Sunday’s 84th Annual Academy Awards. According to The Weinstein Company, distributors of The Artist, Uggie has not been asked to participate or appear at the Oscars.

Actor Jean Dujardin and Uggie share the same expression in a scene from The Artist. Photo Credit: The Weinstein Co.

Last month, Uggie took the stage with his co-stars at the Golden Globe Awards when The Artist won for Best Musical or Comedy Feature. The talented terrier also recently won the first-ever Golden Collar Award for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film. Not bad for a 10-year-old pooch rescued from the pound.

The unofficial awards campaign dubbed “Consider Uggie” has garnered an impressive following on Facebook and Twitter who want Uggie to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. For Uggie to be considered, it would require an exception to strict Academy rules that specifically exclude animals from award nominations. These guidelines were implemented after the famous German Shephard, Rin Tin Tin, nearly won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929. 

Any changes for animal actors to be acknowledged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences may come too late for Uggie. Just a day after the Academy Award nominations were announced, his trainer, Omar Von Muller, announced Uggie’s retirement.

Despite persistent rumors, sources close to the ceremony claim Uggie has not been rehearsing for an Oscar skit with host Billy Crystal. Still, the social media outcry rages on to see this lovable pooch light up the stage at least one last time.

Blackie performing as Maximilian in Hugo. Photo Credit: Paramount Picture

Though a crowd favorite, Uggie isn’t the only talent on four-legs in a critically acclaimed movie this year. Up for 11 Academy Award nominations, Martin Scorsese’s family film Hugo exhibits a strong performance from a four-year-old female canine star named Blackie.

The stoic Doberman plays the anti-hero, performing as the law-enforcing Maximilian. Initially snubbed by the Golden Collar Awards, Blackie was granted a late-breaking nomination for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film after director Scorsese himself intervened with a massive write-in campaign.

Although Blackie ultimately did not win the Golden Collar, her breakout performance in Hugo could lead to a promising acting career.

Another film—up for six Academy Awards on Sunday—went to great lengths to avoid placing animals in danger: Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed War Horse.

Actor Jeremy Irvine and Finder in the film War Horse. Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures

 The plot of the wartime weepy revolves around a horse named Joey, who was chiefly played by a South African Bay named Finder, who also starred in the 2003 film Seabiscuit. War Horse used an additional 13 horses to play the role of Joey, while also incorporating computer graphics and a life-size animatronic horse to ensure that animals were never placed in harm’s way.

Though none of these remarkable animals will be recognized with the famous gold statue, those of us who admired their performances will surely be pulling for their movies come Oscar night. Could one of the animal-dominated films like The Artist, Hugo, or War Horse win Best Picture? Tune in to the Academy Awards this Sunday, February 26, to find out!

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