‘The Artist’ Star Uggie: A Dog in the Fight

Adam Pockross
Movie TalkJanuary 21, 2012

One of the films receiving big-time buzz this award season is the Weinstein Company's mostly silent film, "The Artist." As the big winner at the Golden Globes, "The Artist" picked up trophies for Best Motion Picture -- Comedy or Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Comedy or Musical for star Jean Dujardin. Dujardin's performance as the fallen-from-favor silent film star George Valentin is certainly buzzworthy, but one of the movie's furrier stars is generating quite a howl in his own right.

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After his inspired performance as Jack, Valentin's faithful canine friend, Uggie is becoming one hot dog around Hollywood. And for good reason. Uggie skateboards while standing up. He plays dead when you shoot him. Simon Cowell wants to sign him. And now there's even a movement to nominate him for an Academy Award.

Even though no animal has yet won an Academy Award, the "Consider Uggie" movement is picking up steam. The hubbub was started by Movieline's S.T. Vanirsdale, who has a bone to pick with the Academy, noting, "It's time for critics and awards bodies ... to take a good hard look into Uggie's huge eyes and huger talent and reverse the discriminatory trend that prohibits recognition of this level of animal artistry."

Unwilling to let sleeping dogs lie, Movieline created the "Consider Uggie" Facebook page, which has attracted 7,545 fans and counting. The Weinstein Company has also gotten behind the movement by starting the @Uggie_TheArtist Twitter page, which has gained more than 3,000 followers. And the Twitter hashtag #consideruggie has become a rallying cry amongthose who limit themselves to 140 characters.

But, really, why wouldn't you consider Uggie? Sure, a lot of purists are worried that the awards show will go to the dogs if they start handing out awards to nonhuman actors who are motivated merely by treats. But I've watched a lot of movies this year, and I can't think of one supporting actor who showed more chemistry with his fellow actors, who stole more scenes, or who walked so consistently on four legs.

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Except for maybe Cosmo from "Beginners." Or Finders Key, who played Joey in "War Horse." Or Crystal, the monkey from "Hangover 2." Or perhaps Andy Serkis in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Hey -- there's enough for an entire category!

Since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, when Rin Tin Tin was snubbed, folks have been clamoring for the creation of a separate category for animal actors. But so far they've been barking up the wrong tree, as the Academy seems intent on bestowing acting honors to humans alone. Perhaps Uggie can change their minds.

See Uggie in this clip from 'The Artist':