After an informal poll of my fellow Boston Society of Film Critics members, the
winner of the 2011 "Where's Whitey? Award for Best Animal Actor" has been
It wasn't even close.
For a performance all the more impressive because it was
done without resorting to any dialogue, barked
or otherwise, and.
It's a sad fact that we often do not recognize someone's
greatness or the significance of their contributions until they pass away. Such
is the case with that late, great ape, Cheetah (or Cheeta, as he preferred to have his name spelled) who passed away Christmas
Eve at the age of 80. And so belatedly, to acknowledge this legendary hominid,
we have decided to posthumously award him the "Where's Whitey?" lifetime
This has been a great year for performances on screen,
especially from animals. Which makes the winner of the annual "Where's Whitey?"
Award for Best Animal Actor especially challenging and rewarding.
For those unfamiliar with this prize the name comes from Korean
director Kim Tae-kyun's "Crossing," which I saw a while back at the Palm
Springs Film Festival.
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.
Whether or not "Inception" gets any Oscars (Roger Ebert has
already claimed it for his top ten list ),
this parody is definitely a strong candidate for tthe 2010 Where's Whitey?
The hamster's performance is especially nuanced, in my opinion. More so, for example, than Ellen Page's inert presence in
Christopher Nolan's blockbuster.
Every year at this time countless awards go out to human
beings for their accomplishments in movies. But what about the animals, whose
contributions are sometimes the only thing that make a film worth watching? The
"Where's Whitey?" Award is my small attempt to compensate for this injustice.
For those who need to be reminded, the name of the award
refers to Kim Tae-kyun's "Crossing," a South Korean film I saw at the Palm
Springs Film Festival.