In keeping with the spirit of our animal-friendly age, it is no surprise the idea has arisen for animal stars of films to be put forward for the same awards as humans. No less a name than Steven Spielberg, whose War Horse has just opened, has suggested animals should be eligible for Oscars. Anyone who has seen the astonishing performance given by Uggie the dog in The Artist might agree.
But this notion raises questions. If the award is just for performance on screen, no good reason exists as to why an animal should not receive the same award as a human. But isn't getting an Oscar also supposed to involve something called acting – consciously placing oneself in a role?
Another, bigger problem is that the Oscar recipient is supposed to sob while delivering a rambling homily to all the wonderful people who helped them to stardom. Until animals can show they can master that key skill, the case for animal Oscars cannot be said to be proven.