The "Where's Whitey?" Award for Best Animal Performance 2010

I'm pleased to report that this has been a good year for roles for women, and the Academy will have its hands full trying to narrow the field down to only five nominees for Best Actress and Supporting Actress. That's progress: hurray for Hollywood!

On the other hand, it wasn't such a good year for animals. In fact, there were so few noteworthy roles for animals in this year's releases that in choosing the competition for the "Where's Whitey?" Award for Best Animal Performance I've had to resort to nominating performances in films I haven't seen, and even in one case a performance by an entrée.

And for those who don't remember,  the name of the award refers to South Korean director Kim Tae-kyun's "Crossing" in which a little boy from a starving family finds joy in a beloved dog named Whitey. One day the kid comes home and is pleasantly surprised to find that his mother has managed to cook up a delicious stew. Overwhelmed with joy, he gobbles it up. Then he looks around and asks, "Where's Whitey?"

A tough act to follow. Anyway, here's this year's list of nominees:

The sheep in "Sweetgrass"

If not an award for the sheep who opens the film by staring with Mona Lisa-like elusiveness into the camera, then maybe an ensemble award for the whole flock.

The cattle egret  in "Alamar"

It's not every film in which you fall in love with a character who eats cockroaches. Nicolas Cage in "Vampire's Kiss" excepted.

Secretariat in "Secretariat"

I didn't see it but everyone has said good things about the horse, or horses, playing the part. Nonetheless, I wouldn't bet on it.

The prawn in "I Am Love"

The scene in which Tilda Swinton eats this delectable crustacean and the opening shot of  the snowy night vista of Milan are the film's highlights.

Little Blackie in "True Grit"

"There never lived a nobler pony," says Mattie Ross, and by the end of the film you will agree. Plus, nominating this performance makes it possible to present the "Where's Whitey?" award to an animal named Blackie.

Who will win? Let the voting begin. Otherwise, I'll just run the nominees past my cat and let him decide.


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