A number of the world’s most accomplished dogs went head-to-head on Monday, competing in the most prestigious and acclaimed competition that the canine world has to offer.
That was the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.
Across the country, meanwhile, another group of dogs competed in the first Golden Collar Awards, a newer and sillier event with, shall we say, a less illustrious pedigree. The showbiz version of a dog show may have lacked the prestige and history, but it had a lot more real housewives, of both Beverly Hills and New York.
And while we won’t know Westminster’s Best in Show until Tuesday night, the Golden Collar Awards announced its top dogs on Monday – and the big prize, the one for which the event seems to have been created, went to Uggie from “The Artist,” to the surprise of nobody who’d been paying any kind of attention.
The Golden Collar Awards were launched, after all, by the Dog News Daily digital media and marketing company only a couple of months ago, after the canine star of “The Artist” started getting lots of attention on the awards circuit.
When the nominations were announced on Jan. 18, Uggie himself was present, along with his human costar Penelope Ann Miller.
And in those noms, the 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier nabbed two of the five nominations for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film, both for his performance as the Dog in “The Artist” and for his less-heralded role as Queenie in “Water for Elephants.”
Take that, Glenn Close and Janet McTeer: Uggie can do the cross-gender thing, too!
At any rate, Uggie was named Best Dog in a Theatrical Film, and it should go without saying that he didn’t win for “Water for Elephants.”
Best Dog in a Foreign Film went to Koko from the Australian film “Red Dog,” which may have added injury to insult for fellow nominee Laika from “Le Havre,” which many Golden Collar materials insisted on calling “Le Harve.”
The Best Dog in a Television Series category was won by Brigitte from the television series that always wins awards, “Modern Family.”
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Best Dog in a Reality Television Series was a tie, with Hercules from “Pit Boss” and Giggy from “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” sharing the award.
(Given that the other nominees included two other “Real Housewives” dogs, one from Beverly Hills and one from New York, there may be another kind of dogfight going on in those environs before long.)
In the Best Dog in a Direct-to-DVD Film category, the two nominees from “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2” must have split their vote, allowing Rody from “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years” to walk away with the prize.
One imagines that Blackie, Cosmo, Denver, Hummer, Ichico, Chunk, Lambchop, Millou, Jackpot, Gaston, Jason Gann and all the other losers will find a way to drown their sorrows.
The Golden Collar Awards took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, which used to host a lot of awards shows before its union troubles sent a few Hollywood guilds fleeing elsewhere.
Participants in the ramshackle show included Pauley Perrette from “NCIS,” James Cromwell from “The Artist” and Wendy Malick from “Hot in Cleveland,” who insisted upon mispronouncing Uggie’s name “You-gie.”
And although it raised money for rescue shelters and gave out serious awards to the absent Charlize Theron (the Golden Collar Humanitarian Award) and producer/director Michael Vance (the Golden Collar Legends Award), it mostly gave rise to a lot of tongue-in-cheek coverage that demonstrated just how silly awards season can be.
For instance, this Hollywood Reporter description of the Golden Collar trophy – “a spectacular gold and Swarovski crystal collar on a stunning paw-shaped Plexiglass [sic] holder” – is certainly the only time stunning and Plexiglas have been used in this kind of adjacency.
And the fact that protests were lodged by both Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a hand puppet, and Antonio Banderas on behalf Puss in Boots, an animated cat, means that everybody is treating the show as somewhere between a joke and a publicity stunt.
The most amusing part of the whole Golden Collar experience was when Martin Scorsese waded into the fray with a thoroughly facetious Los Angeles Times op-ed piece lobbying for a nomination for Blackie, the dog from “Hugo.”
“I have been cautioned against speaking out on this issue lest I create the appearance of churlishness,” wrote Scorsese. “Well, I’m going to have to risk it … Uggie plays a nice little mascot who does tricks and saves his master’s life in one of the films, while Blackie gives an uncompromising performance as a ferocious guard dog who terrorizes children …
“We have learned to accept the human antihero, but when it comes to dogs, I guess we still have a long way to go,”
The appeal worked – at least according to the Times, who reported (exclusively!) that after Scorsese’s appeal and a Facebook-based petition, the Golden Collar Awards granted Blackie “a late-breaking nomination.”
Well, maybe. But as a judge, I can report (exclusively!) that I never got a new ballot with Blackie’s name on it, or indeed any communication from the Golden Collar people telling me that I could vote for Scorsese’s Doberman antihero.
But for the record, and because I figure my vow of secrecy has lifted now that the awards have been announced: I voted for Cosmo from “Beginners,” and would have done the same if Blackie had been on my ballot.
And because I follow all vital awards-season news, I was aware that Blackie was eligible.
The Golden Collar folks, by the way, made kind of a big deal out of the tie between Hercules and Giggy, with a banner headline on the Dog News Daily website and an all-caps elaboration: “FIRST TIME IN GOLDEN COLLAR HISTORY THAT THERE HAS BEEN A TIE.”
The fact that this is also the first time in Golden Collar history that there has been a Golden Collar might diminish the historic nature of that tie somewhat.
But who cares about history, or churlish hair-splitting, or even that other dog show on the other side of the country?
The Westminster Kennel Club might have Martha Stewart’s chow chow Ghenghis Khan, but the Golden Collar Awards had Uggie.
The top dogs:
Best Dog in a Theatrical Film: Uggie as the Dog in “The Artist”
Best Dog in a Foreign Film: Koko as Red Dog in “Red Dog”
Best Dog in a Television Series: Brigitte as Stella in “Modern Family”
Best Dog in a Reality Television Series: (tie) Hercules in “Pit Boss” and Giggy in “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”
Best Dog in a Direct-to-DVD Film: Rody as Marley in “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years”