It’s time to salute the best and most memorable movie animals of 2017! Here are some of the greatest dogs, cats, birds and imaginary creatures we loved in the past year. And some humans as well!
BEST DOG SITTER: ROD (Get Out)
When his best friend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) goes missing after meeting his white girlfriend’s parents, Rod (Lil Rel Howery) is on the case! And he never fails in the dog sitting department, even bringing Chris’ dog along to the police station. Rod ends up saving the day in more ways that one, but he is definitely the BEST DOG SITTER EVER!
BEST PHOTO BOMB BY AN UNUSUAL ANIMAL: Armadillo (Wonder Woman)
We never find out why there’s an armadillo on the Island of Themyscira, but it certainly caught our attention as it calmly strolls across the screen for a mere two frames. (That’s young Diana running past it in the back.) Theories about its relation to the Amazons abounded!
RUNNER-UP: Baboon (Manifesto)
A ranting Scottish old man (Cate Blanchett, in just one of the 13 roles she plays in this art film) walks past a pile of rocks at an abandoned factory site and casually notices that there’s a baboon sitting on top of the rubble! Director Julian Rosefeldt explained to Eye for Film why he had random animals appearing in certain scenes: “The animals are just another way of portraying humanity, I would say. They’re just a different species. If you see them altogether over the film, it’s just us, over there. I like them because they are a mirror to us in a way. Because they can’t know what’s going on in the world but they are there all the time, faithful and testimony of what we’re doing here in this world. So they are testimonies. They’re just there.”
MOST UNLIKELY PET OWNER: Reynolds Woodcock (Phantom Thread)
It’s hard to believe that this extremely fastidious fashion designer (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) would allow such messy and impulsive animals as dogs in his life, yet we briefly meet two of his hounds at his country house by the shore. Presumably a caretaker sees to them most of the time as they are never seen in his fine, multi-story house in the city.
BEST DOG (ANIMATED): Dante (Coco)
Dante, the hairless Mexican dog, is a major part of the delightful Pixar movie, “Coco.” And ends up being so much more than just a scrappy stray.
BEST DOG ACTOR: Varco (Megan Leavey)
Many viewers thought several dogs played Rex in this true story: Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite told Moviepaws that just one dog, Varco, played the part of the dedicated military bomb-sniffing dog.
BEST CAT ACTOR: (TIE): Meowthra, (The LEGO Ninjago Movie), Fred (Gifted)
MOST DISTURBING TREND: Eating Cats
Once the “asset” in “The Shape of Water” escapes from a top-secret government facility, he stays with rescuers Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins. And, unfortunately, eats Jenkins’s cat, Pandora. Although he later learns cats are to be petted, not eaten, we’re still horrified. And Dustin’s unwise decision in “Stranger Things 2” to keep “Dart,” who ends up being a baby demogorgon, leads to the untimely death of his family cat. In “I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore,” the murderous villain boasts that he likes to eat cats, but luckily doesn’t ever eat one on camera. And in “The Girl With All the Gifts”, the zombie lead character feasts on cats and birds to avoid eating her human companions.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Kedi
This fascinating documentary about the street cats of Istanbul is a meditation on cats and what they mean to people. (Read the Moviepaws review.)
BEST SCENE STEALER: Parrot (I, Tonya)
The parrot who sits on Allison Janney’s shoulder in an interview segment in “I, Tonya,” keeps nibbling on the actress’s ear. The sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated Janney told Huffington Post. “I tried a couple birds, and I picked Little Man, which is not his real name, but that’s what I called him. I gotta find out what his real name is because he’s one of my favorite scene partners I’ve ever worked with. I knew it was my job to make it look like I had a relationship with the bird, that we’d been together for a long time. I couldn’t look ruffled, if you will, by anything this bird did. And believe me, he did a lot. I mean, you saw him trying to eat out my ear.”
CUTEST IMAGINARY ANIMAL: Porgs (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Although we dig Rey, Finn and Poe, those adorable Porgs were our favorite collectibles from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Here’s how they came to be in the film.
COOLEST IMAGINARY ANIMAL: Crystal Foxes, Spirit Guides (Coco), Okja
It was a great year for imaginary animals. The Crystal Foxes in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” helped save our heroes in their time of need. The spirit guides in “Coco” were alternately adorable and majestic, especially Pepito, the winged cat guide. And we fell in love with Okja, the endangered elephant-like creature in the Netflix movie.
MOST DOOMED SPECIES: Rabbits (The Bad Batch/I, Tonya)
Sadly, rabbits are eaten in “The Bad Batch” and slaughtered to make a fur coat in “I, Tonya.”
BEST ANIMAL VILLAIN: Fenris Ulf (Thor: Ragnarok)
The mythical wolf (who was Hela’s henchman in the film and one of Loki’s deadly offspring in Norse myth), makes a formidable opponent who seems capable of taking out even the Hulk in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
BEST TALKING ANIMAL WHO’S OFTEN MISTAKEN FOR A TRASH PANDA: Rocket Raccoon
We love Rocket Raccoon, even if his friends and enemies love to repeatedly insult him by calling him names like “trash panda.”
THANKS FOR NOT KILLING THE DOG AWARD: Lab (The Mountain Between Us)
Would the dog die in this plane-crash survival movie? No! The movie studio itself assured us that the yellow lab survives along with Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. Whew! And he even upstages his award-winning human stars!
BEST CANINE CAST: A Dog’s Purpose
More than 70 dogs were featured in this film, which follows one dog through several reincarnations and several owners. Even star Dennis Quaid’s own French Bulldogs, Batman and Gidget, got into the act: They were featured in a shelter scene with dozens of other animals, according to The Nose Print.