Move over, Uggie; step aside, Cosmo. There's a fearsome new dog in town. Blackie the doberman, the sinister star of Martin Scorsese's 3D fantasy Hugo, has sensationally entered the race for this year's inaugural Golden Collar awards, along with the cute Jack Russells from The Artist and Beginners, after intervention from the Oscar-winning director himself.
There may be lingering doubts over whether Meryl Streep, Viola Davis or outside bet Rooney Mara will claim the Academy Award for best actress later this month, and no-one is absolutely certain if Jean Dujardin, George Clooney or Gary Oldman will be picking up the equivalent male gong at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. But the debut Golden Collar awards had previously appeared to be a two-dog race between Uggie and Cosmo, with the former the clear frontrunner.
That was before Scorsese stepped into the debate with a firmly-worded open letter to the LA Times calling for Blackie to be added to the list of nominees for what he described as "an uncompromising performance as a ferocious guard dog who terrorises children" in Hugo, which is up for 11 Oscars.
"While I have been extremely heartened by the reception of my movie Hugo, I feel that there is one area where we've been severely slighted," wrote Scorsese. "Imagine my surprise when I heard the nominations for the first Golden Collar awards for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film. After all, we had Blackie the Doberman in our movie. How could she not be nominated? I listened in vain for Blackie's name to be called, and then to all the hullabaloo over a certain Jack Russell terrier named Uggie. "
Scorsese went on to allege that unreasonable anti-doberman prejudice linked to the breed's German origins may have been responsible for Blackie's omission. "I detect another, more deep-seated prejudice at work," wrote the director. "Jack Russell terriers were bred in the 19th century for the purposes of fox hunting by an Englishman, the Rev John Russell. Dobermans were bred by a German tax collector who was afraid of being bludgeoned to death by the citizenry. But does that mean we must condemn the entire breed?"
Scorsese's strident letter received a rapid response from Dog News Daily, which organises the Golden Collars. The website challenged Blackie's team to prove the doberman's popularity by asking 500 members of the public to "like" his Facebook page. That target having been swiftly achieved, it appears Blackie will be lining up alongside Uggie and Cosmo.
"Due to the outpouring of love and support from around the world from fans of Mr Scorsese, his film Hugo, and its canine star Blackie, the write-in campaign … for Blackie has been successful," said Alan Siskind of Dog News Daily in a statement.
Despite the statuesque Hugo star's late arrival on the scene, Uggie remains the clear frontrunner. The Jack Russell was heavily involved in The Artist's awards-season campaign, and has already secured what was previously seen as the highest mutt-related acting honour at the Cannes film festival in April, the highly-coveted Palme Dog award.
The Golden Collar awards ceremony takes place in Los Angeles on 13 February.
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