Animals in the Spotlight

Some not-quite-Oscars nominations for pup-stars
By Lisa Wogan, March 2010, Updated February 2015

This weekend, I did a little pre-Oscar cramming with The Hurt Locker on Saturday night followed by a Sunday matinee of A Single Man. They’re both excellent films, the sort that inspire you to remain in your seat as the credits role and the soundtrack fades. The credits of A Single Man included a disclaimer from the American Humane Association’s Film and TV Crew, which vouched for the fact that no animals had been harmed during the filming. (See details here.)

The animals in Tom Ford’s directorial debut include some farm critters, an owl, a butterfly and at least two Smooth-haired Fox Terriers. While the dogs don’t get a lot of screen time, they are emotional anchors in the story. In one scene, Firth snuggles into the fur of a stranger’s Terrier puppy, describing the aroma as “buttered toast”—it is a poignant, mournful moment that I felt all the way to my toes.

In anticipation of the Oscars, the American Humane Association is spreading the word about its program to monitor the treatment of animals on film, TV and commercial sets. The AHA also proposed its own animal-themed, award nominations for 2009 including the Na’vi “direhorses” in Avatar for “Best Alien Animals”; Uno, the Neapolitan Mastiff in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for “Best Newcomer Actor”; and Hotel for Dogs for “Best Chase Scene.” Read more about how these films and other AHA award contenders. Or look up the movie of your choice to discover what happened to the animals on the set. Or tell us your favorite animal moments from the films of 2009.

Still from A Single Man, courtesy The Weinstein Company.