An Oscar For Jack (Uggie) Russell? – Commentary by Julide Tanriverdi

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These days the best actors have four legs and the shiny fur of a Jack Russell terrier!

The star of The Artist has cute eyes, a lovely smile and Hollywood adores him: Uggie the dog!

(PHOTO: Uggie and Jean Dujardin in The Artist, courtesy The Weinstein Company).

Just google his name and it will show what momentum this adorable Jack Russell Terrier has these days (including a backlash that some critics say, he is overacting). Jean Dujardin, his companion in the movie, might get all the (human) awards but Uggie is certainly the one who melts the hearts – no matter whether he’s dazzling Ellen DeGeneres by playing dead on commanc on her show or claims his own trophy on the Red Carpet of the Golden Globes.

The love for Uggie is a global phenomenon. When The Artist was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival, his performance was so impressive that some critics wrote that Uggie stole the show. It won him the Palme Dog Award, the canine version of the Palme D’Or. With a growing fan base worldwide it was inevitable that a Facebook/Twitter campaign called #ConsiderUggie was created to get him an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor (their hopes were crushed when his name was left off the list).

But not so fast – Uggie is not the only furry star to get praise. Surprisingly, the competition is stiff in Hollywood – even for dogs.

Cosmo, the Jack Russell Terrier from Beginners, is also geting a lot of attention (and let’s not even begin to talk about other breeds, because the German Shepherd in Take Shelter has great fans too). Ewan McGregor was so enchanted by his furry co-star that he actually adopted a poodle mix named Sid to be his own companion.

“I was looking for a replacement for Cosmo because I couldn’t stand the idea of not having him around. I found my dog on the last day of the shoot. He is gorgeous and my little Cosmo replacement”, McGregor confessed (on an LA Times Blog).

(PHOTO: Cosmo and Ewan McGregor in Beginners, courtesy Focus Features)

Cosmo plays Arthur in Beginners and shows an amazing emotional range. That’s why he’s up against Uggie for the Golden Collar Awards, the canine equivalent of the Oscars. Uggie is nominated twice – also for his performance as Queenie in Water for Elephants. Other competitors are Denver, the Greyhound from 50/50 and Hummer, the Pomeranian from Young Adult (see all nominees).

The third most talked about Jack Russell Terrier is amazingly not even real. This might be surprising for anyone who has watched The Adventures of Tintin , since Snowy has such a huge role in the Spielberg movie. But, Jamie Bell acted alongside a cardboard dog.

The actor had this to say about acting without a real canine: “It’s a testament to the boys down at Weta Digital, because it’s the only fully animated character. But also amazing work from Steven Spielberg, who’s got to be able to think about something that isn’t there, even in composition shots.”

(PHOTO: Snowy with Tintin in The Adventures of Tintin, courtesy Paramount Pictures).

Real or not, Snowy is cute and impressive.

People love dogs and so does Hollywood – not only since the Lassie days. Let’s hope all this does not create an adoption surge for Jack Russell Terriers who then end up back at the pound due to their intense energy levels (which was the reason Uggie was put into a shelter in Florida by his family but then luckily was adopted by dog trainer Sarah Clifford). Because that’s exactly what happened when Asta appeared in the Thin Man detective series in the 30s. — people suddenly wanted a Jack Russell terrier. Not to forget Scraps from Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece A Dog’s Life. Scraps was was probably the first terrier who captured the hearts of moviegoers — back in 1918. He might have been a huge influence on Uggie.

The director of The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, sees huge potential for his four-legged star.

“He was humble when I shot with him. But now he is a star and who knows, he might want to play other characters – like cats or horses.”

Or maybe take on the role of an Oscar host – are you listening Billy Crystal???

PS Cat people: Among the Oscar nominations are two animated movies for you – the delightful A Cat in Paris and the funny Puss in Boots. Purr-fect!

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  • Anna Lea Du

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