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And the Oscar for best boi goes to …

Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Among the actors making publicity rounds in the run up to the Oscars on March 10 is a 7-year-old border collie named Messi, who co-stars in best picture nominee “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Called Snoop in the film, he traveled from France last week to attend the luncheon for Oscar nominees. Never one to let a good marketing opportunity go to waste, the Academy shared a post on social media with photos and a jokey caption: “And the Oscar for bestest boi goes to Messi from ‘Anatomy of a Fall.'”

He seems to have the right kind of disposition to tolerate the noisy, sweaty, chaotic environments where Oscar campaigning is unfolding.

But he’s not the first dog to melt Oscar hearts.

A terrier named Uggie was featured in 2011’s “The Artist,” a black-and-white comedy about a silent film actor and the starlet he falls for. The movie won five Oscars, including best picture. Uggie’s presence in the film seemingly inspired the creation of the short-lived Golden Collar Awards. To the best of my knowledge, they existed for just a single year in 2012.

A separate, unrelated award called the Palm Dog has been around since 2001 and is given to the best canine performance at the Cannes Film Festival (riffing on the fest’s top prize the Palme d’Or). Uggie, who died in 2015, and Messi were both winners in their respective years.


But “Anatomy of a Fall” does something more interesting — Messi isn’t there as a gag or simply to be cute — and that got me thinking about dogs and cats that aren’t merely part of the background but function as important supporting players.

We have full, complex relationships with our animals. They want to know what we’re doing, what we’re eating, why we’re not out of bed yet. They sense when we are sick or upset, and we know the same about them. They are part of the family — some have a sense of humor! — and we form mutual and deeply emotional connections with them. Our pets bear silent witness to our most intimate moments. They see it all.

This relationship rarely shows up on screen, but “Anatomy of a Fall” gets closer than most. Snoop is the family dog, ready to play fetch and trek through the snow. Doesn’t like baths much. He is a steady, alert companion to a young boy with a visual impairment. And it is Snoop who first notices that something is amiss when the pair return home from a walk: A man lies prone on the ground, blood pouring from his head. It’s the boy’s father. Soon, his mother will be charged with murder. As the trial unfolds, Snoop’s presence at home helps the boy sort through his theory of what really happened. The dog is an essential part of the film’s emotional language, as well.

“It’s a true profession,” Messi’s owner and trainer Laura Martin Contini told IndieWire. “Any time you see a dog or an animal on screen, it‘s the result of a long process of preparation, even if the dog is just laying down.”


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