Why give the scene-stealing Jack Russell Terrier awards when all he really wants are sausages?
There's an unconventional grass-roots awards campaign going on these days to get some awards attention for the dog from "The Artist," and I've only got one thing to say:
I mean, I think Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who plays the faithful companion of movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) in Michel Hazanavicius' award-winning film, is funny and winning onscreen.
He's one of the reasons the black-and-white silent film is so thoroughly charming.
And he seems to be a good boy, too: Last month he showed up with Hazanavicius and his cast at a photo session for TheWrap, where he hit his marks and stole the show and was very sweet when I said hello to him (though I had to be careful not to mess up the makeup that he had on the brown part of his head).
But Uggie now has a "Consider Uggie" campaign spearheaded by Movieline, and a Facebook page, and a number of appearances on the red carpet, and a Twitter hashtag (#consideruggie) and admiring notices in places like the New York Times. And some people even got upset when AMPAS wouldn't let him take the stage for the Q&A that followed a recent screening of the film at the Academy.
The dog "delivers as nuanced a performance as either leading man Jean Dujardin or leading lady Bérénice Bejo, and all while adhering most strictly to the covenants of silent-cinema storytelling," gushed Movieline's S.T. Van Airsdale.
(The production actually utilized three dogs, but Uggie did the majority of the work.)
VanAirsdale said that "it’s time for critics and awards bodies like NBR and the Golden Globes 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."
Ah yes, artistry. So why don't we ask Uggie's director about this animal artistry, this canine craft?
In fact, one audience member did just that when "The Artist" screened at TheWrap Screening Series in November, and Hazanavicius' first reaction was to laugh.
"What I can say is … uh … he's not an actor," he added, as the audience broke up. "He's a professional, but he's not an actor. He doesn't feel things. What he wants is to get sausages."
I asked his human co-star Jean Dujardin about this at the photo session, and Dujardin agreed. "I had sausages in my pocket every time I did a scene with him," he said with a grin.
And that fabulous performance? "When people say to me that he is great, I really take that as a compliment for me," said Hazanavicius at the screening. "Because, really, he goes from sausage number one to sausage number two. And when he runs to save his master, do you really think he's thinking about that? No, he runs fast because he wants four sausages."
Granted, Hazanavicius was sort of kidding. And VanAirsdale was sort of kidding. And I'm sort of kidding when I say down, boy to the folks advocating an FYC campaign.
But c'mon, let's not get all worked up trying to secure some awards for Uggie.
Let's just throw the little guy a few sausages, and leave it at that.