Oscar Dog Showdown: Who's Cutest?

This article appeared in the Dec. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

A round of a-paws, please! These four-legged thespians may be ineligible for an Academy Award, but their performances in the Oscar contenders of the season are stealing the show.

The season's awards contenders feature numerous animal stars, from the horses of War Horse to the feline star of Puss in Boots. But these four dogs have gone above and beyond with their on-screen performances this year.

PHOTOS: Oscar Dog Showdown: Who's Cutest?

Uggie, 9 | The Artist

His barks might all be silent, but the energetic Jack Russell, seen here playing with a toy Oscar, is one of the big stars of Michel Hazanavicius' tribute to the days before talkies. A seasoned performer -- his specialty is riding a skateboard -- Uggie also appeared this year in Water for Elephants. Says trainer Omar von Muller, who rescued him when he was headed for the pound: "He was a very hyper puppy, but he's now one of the best-trained dogs in the industry. Just look at the scene where he rescues Jean Dujardin from a burning building without missing a cue."

Cosmo, 9 | Beginners

This all-white long-hair Jack Russell, who previously appeared in Hotel for Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop, is trained by Mathilde de Cagney, who knows a star when she sees one: She also trained the late Moose, who played the long-running role of Eddie on Frasier. "The hard thing in training a dog for a movie isA round of a-paws, please! These four-legged thespians may be ineligible for an Academy Award, but their performances in the Oscar contenders of the season are stealing the show. making his behavior look natural," says de Cagney. But that proved no problem for Cosmo, who not only tags along loyally beside Ewan McGregor but also has dialogue of his own thanks to director Mike Mills' clever subtitles.

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Blackie, 3, Hugo

He was one of three Dobermans in Hugo that portrayed the fearsome Maximilian, who patrolled the Parisian railway station alongside Sacha Baron Cohen's Inspector. Because Martin Scorsese shot in 3D, often panning 360 degrees, de Cagney, also his trainer, was sometimes costumed as a character in scenes so she could work with the dogs without destroying the illusion.

Hummer, 4, Young Adult

A compact Pomeranian, he is, by showbiz standards, a non-pro. Director Jason Reitman discovered the purse-sized pooch while Hummer was out on a walk on the streets of New York and convinced his owner to let him make his film debut opposite Charlize Theron.

View more photos from THR's photoshoot with the top dogs of the awards season here.

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