LOS ANGELES—Cinephiles everywhere are howling with rage at this year’s Oscar nominations for yet another inexplicable snub, as Hercules the German Shepherd failed to earn a nod or even a treat for his role in A Dog’s Purpose. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has certainly never enjoyed a reputation for promoting species diversity, but given Hercules’ remarkable performance it had been widely expected that this year would be different. Those hopes were dashed when the nominations were announced Tuesday, and it did not take long for movie buffs to make their displeasure known. The hashtag #OscarsSoHuman began trending across social media within a matter of hours, and indeed has taken over the national discourse.
Universal Studios’ A Dog’s Purpose, released early in 2017, follows the adventures of a thrice-reincarnated dog wandering the American heartland, ever seeking and never finding eternal rest. While Hercules’ role as heroic police dog Ellie totaled only a relatively small amount of screen time, critics were nearly unanimous in their praise for his arresting performance. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times wrote, “Hercules the German Shepherd does just about everything right in his gender-bending star turn as a female police canine, finding the beauty in the absurd and the absurdity in the beautiful.”
Evidently this was not enough for the Academy, whose H. sapiens-centric nominations have been widely criticized as tone deaf, particularly in recent years. Asked for comment, a visibly flustered John Bailey, President of the Academy, could only manage, “But we nominated a lady cinematographer!”
Reached by email, Kristyn Jennings of Amherst, MA, who originated the hashtag, pointed out that, “Time and again, the Academy proves that they just don’t get it. It’s 2018. How are we even still having this conversation? I wish all the dogs in that movie could have been nominated, but Hercules the German Shepherd gave the performance of a lifetime. It’s just heartbreaking to see that go unrecognized. My only hope is that after this Twitter campaign a disgrace like this never happens again.”
Josh Gad, who provided the voice work for all four of the dogs in the film, expressed his support in a series of tweets: “Everyone knows what Hercules brings to the set on each and every project, and I feel honored to have worked with such a good boy. Shame on you AMPA! #OscarsSoHuman #DidYouSeeMeInMurderOnTheOrientExpress #PleaseRT”
Hercules, at the center of the firestorm, was sanguine about the affair when asked to speak. “Ruff!” said the dog.