When Bill Murray dissed Sigourney Weaver after she'd transformed into a hellish beast-hound in 1984's Ghostbusters, his words of choice were particularly cutting: “Ok, so, she's a dog...” Despite the legacy of such humble four-legged heroes as Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and Benji, for a producer to hear 'Your film is a dog!'...well, it just doesn't get any worse. Man's best friend has often been poorly represented to the multiplex crowd. Remember Cujo? Zoltan? Beethoven? Or the Ally Sheedy robo-dog horror film, Man's Best Friend?
Our canine stars have since regained some of the respect they no doubt felt was overdue with the dishing out of the inaugural Golden Collar Awards at Los Angeles' Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. Hosted by Wendie Malick, the butt-sniffing/champagne-sipping went well into the wee hours as the pampered pooches of international cinema gathered to celebrate what has been a stellar year for the silver-screen Canis familiaris.
Given the torrent of award-season love flowing for Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, it was no surprise to see the film's real star, the lovable fox-terrier Uggie (pictured), take home the Golden Collar for his work in the silent film crowd-pleaser. Despite a video-message from Martin Scorsese (seriously) supporting both the ceremony and the great villainous turn by Blackie the Doberman in Hugo, Uggie – a double nominee thanks to his better-than-RPatz turn in Water for Elephants – was the clear favourite. Having caused a red-carpet stir with his adorable three-buttoned vest, crimson bow-tie, Uggie received a rapturous response from the gathered celebs – surely a further indicator of The Artist's march towards Oscar glory, right? Owner-trainer Omar Von Muller raised a few eyebrows when he boisterously declared, “He sleeps with us”.
The evening's most exciting news was when Red Dog's Koko, Australia's most famous red headed movie star since Nicole Kidman, beat out a competitive global field – French mutt Laika from Le Havre, and the German Shepherd/Shiba Inu one-two punch of cuteness from Japan's The Day the Dogs Disappeared – to take out the Best Dog in a Foreign Film Golden Collar. Though not on hand to accept the award (quarantine laws wouldn't allow for it), the film's writer Daniel Taplitz introduced a recorded message from Koko, peppered with classic 'Strine ockerisms.
The Best Direct-to-DVD performance was judged to be juvenile Lab, Rody, as Marley in Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (analysts believe Angel and Rusco, the heavily-favoured frontrunners for their work in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, may have split the vote and denied themselves Golden Collar glory). Presenters included The Artist's Missi Pyle and co-star James Cromwell (whose comment, "I'm delighted to be here because I owe my career to a pig," rankled several nearby dog lovers).
Best Dog In a Theatrical Film
Winner: Uggie as The Dog in The Artist
Blackie as Maximilian in Hugo
Cosmo as Arthur in Beginners
Uggie as Queenie in Water for Elephants
Denver as Skeletor in 50/50
Hummer as Dolce in Young Adult
Best Dog in a Foreign Film
Winner: Koko as Red Dog in Red Dog - Australia
Laika as herself in Le Harve - France
Biina as Alf in The Day the Dogs Disappeared - Japan
Ichico as Toa in The Day the Dogs Disappeared - Japan
Best Dog in a Television Series
Winner: Brigitte as Stella in Modern Family
Rocky as Arnold in Entourage
Chunk as himself in Chelsea Lately
Dart as Chance in Hot In Cleveland
Jason Gann as Wilfred in Wilfred
Lambchop as Yakult in Suburgatory
Best Dog in a Reality Series
Winner: TIE - Hercules - Pit Boss; Giggy - The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Millou - The Real Housewives of New York City
Jackpot - The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Spartacus - Ice Loves Coco
Best Dog in a Direct-to-DVD Film
Winner: Rody as Marley in Marley & Me: The Puppy Years
Fred as B Dawg in Spooky Buddies
Gaston as Beethoven in Beethoven's Christmas Adventure
Angel as Chloe in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2
Rusco as Papi in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2