The Artist is headed for quite a night this Sunday, so we thought we’d take a shot at nailing down exactly why it’s struck a nerve with the Oscar-voting public. It’s not the silent part. It’s certainly not the French part. It’s not even the sultry, half-Argentine actress, although she doesn’t hurt.

No, we’re thinking of the pure, unsullied bond between a man and his dog—in this case, between Jean Dujardin and Uggie, the expertly trained Jack Russell terrier who (we’ll just come out and say it) carries the movie. If Dujardin walks away with a statuette, he’ll know who to thank.

But it’s hardly the first time this has happened—so to correct some of the canine oversight, we thought we’d shine a light on the dogs behind five great and/or debonair men of the past hundred years, from Picasso to Gosling. They were good dogs…

Pablo Picasso (Lump)

Lump never technically belonged to Picasso, but they spent six years together while Picasso was staying with an American photographer in Cannes, beginning with Picasso’s heartfelt portrait of the dog, painted onto a dinner plate.

Humphrey Bogart (Zero)

One of the first crossover canine stars, Bogart brought in Zero to play his character’s dog in High Sierra. The tender-tough-guy routine was soon to follow.

Paul McCartney (Martha)

Paul’s Old English sheepdog was the inspiration behind “Martha My Dear.” Lennon, of course, was a cat person.

David Foster Wallace (Werner and Bella)

We’ll let him say it: “I know I’m not the only person who projects skewed parental neuroses onto his pets or companion-animals or whatever. But I have it pretty bad; it’s a source of some amusement to friends. First, I began to get this strong feeling that it was traumatic for them to be left alone more than a couple hours…. Then after a while I got so I actually needed one or more dogs around in order to be comfortable enough to feel like working.”

Ryan Gosling (George)

And finally, the most photographed dog in Hollywood, George, who’s done more for Gosling’s nice-guy charm than a dozen talk show spots. We’re not sure what’s going on with the back mohawk—but maybe that’s best left to the canine style blogs.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom