LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It's no secret that during Hollywood's awards season, complex character roles often get overlooked in favor of more uplifting performances. But when Martin Scorsese saw such a slight befall his "Hugo" star, he was not about to slink away with his tail between his legs.
The esteemed filmmaker took a stand and barked loudly for that actor -- and now Blackie the Doberman is at the center of a heated award campaign.
In an op-ed piece in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Scorsese -- whose 3D adventure "Hugo" leads this year's Academy Awards race with 11 nominations -- voiced his outrage over the Doberman pinscher's omission from nominations for the inaugural Golden Collar Awards.
"How could she not be nominated?" he wrote, noting the two nods -- two! -- for the plucky little terrier Uggie of "The Artist" fame. (Notably, the silent movie romance is second only to "Hugo" in Oscar nods with 10.)
Oh, the injustice.
So Scorsese -- he of "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" fame -- took the matter one step further, urging a write-in campaign for Blackie.
Dog News Daily, the online magazine behind the Golden Collars, took up the gauntlet Sunday, inviting fans of Blackie to make their preference known.
"We will do what Mr. Scorsese so eloquently requests of the LA Times readers as well as fans of HUGO and Dobermans everywhere," the site's editors wrote. "If Blackie receives 500 write-in 'NOMINATE HUGO'S BLACKIE' posts by Monday, February 6th on Dog News Daily's FACEBOOK PAGE then the Golden Collar nominating committee will request that the panel of 14 judges add HUGO'S BLACKIE as the 6th Nominee in the Best Dog in a Theatrical Film category."
Should Blackie be added to the ballot, she'll be competing with Uggie, arguably this year's highest-profile canine. The Jack Russell terrier received his Golden Collar nominations for performances in both "The Artist" and "Water for Elephants."
Uggie, too, is at the center of a social media campaign, instigated by Moveline on Facebook to urge an Oscar nod for the terrier.
In the campaign for Blackie, hardly a whimper. Until now. The muzzles are off and the dog race is on.
Also vying for top dog at the February 13 Golden Collars are Cosmo ("Beginners"), Denver ("50/50") and Hummer ("Young Adult"). But Scorsese is mad about Blackie.
In his op-ed piece, Scorsese pointed out the dynamics working against actors of the Doberman persuasion. "Jack Russell terriers are small and cute," Scorsese reminded readers. "Dobermans are enormous and -- handsome. More tellingly, Uggie plays a nice little mascot who does tricks and saves his master's life in one of the films, while Blackie gives an uncompromising performance as a ferocious guard dog who terrorizes children. I'm sure you can see what I'm driving at.
"We all have fond memories of Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, the big stars, the heroes, but what about the antiheroes? We have learned to accept the human antihero, but when it comes to dogs, I guess we still have a long way to go."
Reporting by Sheri Linden; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte