Oscars Nominations Overlook a Great Dog Movie

Like so many movie buffs, Ifound myselfeagerly anticipating yesterday's early-morning announcement of this year's Academy Award nominations. I was especially eager to find out whether...


Like so many movie buffs, Ifound myselfeagerly anticipating yesterday’s early-morning announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominations. I was especially eager to find out whether my favorite movie of 2010, the love story “My Dog Tulip” (read my review here)would benominated for Best Animated Feature.

I was certain it would, for it richly deserved Oscar recognition. An instant classic, the movie is atimeless celebration of the dog-human bond that’s utterly charming without ever straying into cloying sentimentality.No dogs were harmed in the making of this film. What’s more,nobody dies in the end.

Alas, only three animatedfeatures were nominated: “How toTrain Your Dragon,” “The Illusionist,” and “Toy Story 3.”My absolute favorite film of 2010 was completely overlooked!

It’s a seriously sadoversight. British author J.R. Ackerley, whose1956 book of the same title provided the movie’srich material, is thelead characterand narrator of “My Dog Tulip.” My fellow single Dogsters will relate to this confirmed bachelor’s rescue ofan “Alsatian bitch” (i.e. female German Shepherd) and howthe beautiful creature gets under his very skin to become the “ideal friend” he’d always dreamed of – but mistakenly expected would walk on two legs, not four.

This film really captures the unconditional love thing, which is not easy to do on screen or on the page. Lettoday’s best-selling dog writers think they’ve cornered the market on the dog memoir; “My Dog Tulip” is theoriginal “dogoir,” and it remainsa masterpiece in a class by itself.

No less aliterary criticthan Truman Capote called it “One of the greatest books ever written by anybody in the world.” Talk about praise from Caesar! And the 82-minute film based on this priceless publication, created by husband-and-wife animation team Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, manages to be 110 percent faithful to the text while still maintaining its own originality as an unforgettablework of art.

It’s so good, even non-Dogsters (whoever they are) will find it irresistible.

Ackerley (that’s him with Tulip in the motorcyclesidecar, at right) is voiced by the eternally dashing actor Christopher Plummer, in one of the best performances of his long and untouchably distinguished career. Others providing vocal talent include Isabella Rossellini (as a veterinarian) andthe late Lynn Redgrave, in her final screen role as Ackerley’s busybody sister Nancy.

The music and sound effects are completely, authentically spot-on,and detail-oriented down to the actual noisemade bya Norton motorbike, which Paul Fierlinger insisted on getting just right.

“My Dog Tulip”is also a milestone in the history of filmmaking, for it’s comprised of 116,640 frames, each hand-drawn and painted with paperless computer technology. Andyet, it has the old-school character of sketches scratched out the old-school way: with pencil on a yellow legal pad.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie, but please don’t take my word for it. Toview a trailer, go here. Once you’ve seen it, I reckon you’ll want to see it again – and you’ll probably end up wanting to add it to your DVD collection. To learn more, go here.

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