This year’s Oscars were a throwback to the birth of Hollywood. Movies like Hugo celebrated cinema’s past while The Artist proved that silent films can still enthrall audiences, but that’s not what really made me feel like I was back in 1929 this award season. What will stay in my memory for years to come is perhaps the most snubbed actor in recent history and how he’s just another member of a long line of overlooked, underpaid, and all too forgotten series of great actors.
I am of course speaking of Uggie the Jack Russel Terrier who had one of the most beloved roles this year and had over 13,000 fans clamoring for him to receive his due. Sadly, not much came of all the attempts to give this adorable little fellow the respect he deserved. His Co-Star Jean Dujardin added a BAFTA, Oscar, and Golden Globe to his collection; Bernice Bejo took home a César; Director Michel Hazanavicius won more awards than I could keep track of; Uggie didn’t even get a nod at the You-Reviewers awards. Unfortunately this is nothing new, especially when we look back at the last time a silent film won the best picture award and a best actor was denied the award he had rightfully won.
Back in 1929 there was one star bigger than anyone else in Hollywood. He had served his time in the military with distinction and decided to pursue acting in movies as his career once he was decommissioned. One of the biggest box office draws of the year and most acclaimed actors of his age, legend has it he received the most votes for the very first best actor Academy Award only to have it denied him because he didn’t fit the stereotype of what a great actor should be. That actor was Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd.
And he’s only the first in a long line of great canine actors who have never been given credit for what they’ve added to a film. Toto got nothing for The Wizard of Oz, Flick received zilch for Umberto D., and George was gifted with a whole lot of nada for holding his own against Katherine Hepburn and Carry Grant in Bringing up Baby. And if you don’t think those dogs were helping carry those pictures, just imagine the movies without them.
Going all the way back to the start of Cinema, dogs have been one of the best breeds of actors. They’ve shown up on time, known their lines, and never demanded a script re-write or a change of director. But the Academy Awards as well as many other award ceremonies refuse to acknowledge their contributions to the world of cinema. I think it’s time the academy acknowledge that great acting isn’t exclusive to humans and start to make up for over 80 years of ignoring some of the best actors in Hollywood. If they can give Transformers a nomination, what harm could a little dog do to their reputation?