Credit: Jaap Buitendijk

Martin Scorsese knows a thing or two about painful awards snubs. Not this year, mind you, as his cinematic love letter Hugo leads the Oscar race, but certainly in years past. Perhaps that’s why the legendary director felt so compelled to launch a campaign to get Blackie, the law-enforcing Doberman from Hugo, rightfully nominated for a Golden Collar Award. (“I’m proud of Blackie, who laid it on the line and dared to risk the sympathy of her audience. Let’s just say that on the set, she had a fitting nickname: Citizen Canine. The bath scene alone is a masterpiece of underplaying, with Blackie’s wonderfully aquiline face accentuated by the 3-D,” Scorsese wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.)

Undeterred by the over-the-top cuteness of The Artist‘s Uggie, who has all but dominated the awards circuit this season and the fact that the double nominee (the Jack Russell terrier also appeared in Water for Elephants) will likely win the sympathy retirement vote, Scorsese’s campaign for Blackie worked. The pooch will vie for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film against Uggie, as well as Beginners‘ Cosmo, 50/50‘s Denver and Young Adult‘s Hummer. (I’d also argue that Our Idiot Brother‘s Willie Nelson or the nine stolen puppies from Bridesmaids should have been included as well, but I’m not one to make controversial political statements here.)

While it’s undeniable that 2011 was the Year of the Dog in movies, why is there such little love for the rest of the animal kingdom? I can guarantee many of you would watch an awards ceremony that rewarded the Best Cat in a Theatrical Film with the same interest and textbook knowledge as Dave Karger does with the Oscars. While it wasn’t a banner year for felines in cinema, consider hiss (Get it?! Also, I’m sorry): The poor, doomed kitty in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo earned the most audible sympathy groans from audiences in theaters. And this was a movie that included a horrific rape scene.

Sure, it’s a little too late to ask the Academy to give credit to animals real (the War Horse horse), CGI (Andy Serkis as an ape in Rise of the Planet of the Apes), or other (Michael Fassbender as an attractive land shark), but here are some other creatures who deserved credit for their work on the big screen in 2011.

Are there any I missed PopWatchers? Which animal deserves recognition for their scene-stealing work in 2011? And remember, the gorilla in Zookeeper wasn’t real. Or was it?! (No.)

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