Late 'The Artist' Star Uggie Crowned Top Palm Dog of Past 20 Years in Virtual Ceremony (Exclusive)

Uggie Palm Dog - H - 2020
Credit: Omar von Muller

With the coronavirus pandemic having made a dog's dinner of this year's Cannes Film Festival, its annual canine competition has instead named the Palm Dog of Palm Dogs.

You can't keep a good dog (contest) down. 

While the novel coronavirus pandemic may have made a dog's dinner of this year's Cannes Film Festival, it hasn't stopped its annual canine competition, the Palm Dog.

For its 20th anniversary, however, the ceremony — which should have been held this week on the Croisette and rewarded the best four-legged performance among the Cannes film selection — has moved online. And with no onscreen mutts for the judges to sniff out, organizers have this year instead delved into their history books to name the best winner of all time.

The Hollywood Reporter can reveal that in a virtual ceremony over Zoom that will go live on the Palm Dog website on Friday, the late Jack Russell terrier Uggie from The Artist — winner of the Palm Dog in 2011 — will be crowned the Palm Dog of Palm Dogs. The award — a special collar — will be awarded by competition founder Toby Rose to Omar von Muller, trainer and owner of Uggie (who passed away in 2015) and fellow Jack Russell Dash, his kennel mate and body double on The Artist. 

"Uggie would be very proud of that, and we will keep this forever," said von Muller. "Dash will be honored to wear it for Uggie. Palm Dog will always have a special place in our hearts because this award was where it all began for Uggie and The Artist."

Uggie led the pack among the judges over 18 other winners, including the first Palm Dog honoree, Otis from The Anniversary Party (with the award accepted in 2001 by director Jennifer Jason Leigh), Dug from Up in 2009 (the award's first 2D winner), and last year's top dog Sayuri, who played Brad Pitt's pit bull Brandy in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (which saw Quentin Tarantino unexpectedly turn up to the awards ceremony).  By coincidence, Uggie's owner von Muller was involved in the final fight scene in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

"Palm Dog was inspired by my Fox Terrier, born in the Champagne region of France, who went by the name of Mutt," said Rose of his 20-year-old Cannes institution. "He has since gone to kennel heaven but lives on through the world’s foremost and paw-most awards for dogs on the big screen. A huge heartfelt thank you to all the actors and directors who have embraced the award and at times risking their credibility — but the love of dogs was irresistible. And an extra special shout-out to the jury who have thrown kudos the way of canines."