Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has claimed its first award.
The darkly comic film — starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie — had its world premiere in Cannes on Tuesday, where it was well-received by critics. But the movie's first honor was not for the A-list lineup or legendary director, but instead for a four-legged member of the star-studded cast.
Brandy plays the pit bull pet of Pitt's character, Cliff Booth — an animal with some considerable screen time who plays a crucial role in at least one scene. She won the Palm Dog award for the best performance by a canine in a film.
Although Brandy didn't make it to the south of France, Tarantino himself caused a stir when he unexpectedly turned up to the awards ceremony on Friday to collect the dog collar prize.
"I want to thank the jury from the bottom of my black heart," he said. "At least I don't go home empty-handed."
Tarantino noted that Brandy had some serious chops. "When I was editing the movie I realized, she's a great actress. I actually started seeing things in her face when I was cutting it together that I didn't see on the day, so whatever little difficulties we had on set just really melted away when I saw what a great performance she gave."
Palm Dog organizer Toby Rose said he was "still pinching" himself that Tarantino actually made it down to collect, but added that the director "fully embraced" the decision to award Brandy the top prize.
Up until Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's premiere, several had commented on the lack of contenders for the 2019 Palm Dog (The Hollywood Reporter's article was headlined, "Ruff Year"), something Tarantino joked about upon receiving the prize.
"They were like, 'Oh, not so many frontrunners for the Palm Dog this year, they're kinda weak on the dog selection,' and I'm like, 'Ha ha ha, little do they know what's coming up!'"
Other hounds were honored, including Bello from the sci-fi horror film Little Joe, and a special mention went to the canine cast of market title Aasha and the Street Dogs, the first live-action doggie drama shot in India.