Cannes is back, honey. After the pandemic revealed 2020 and led to a somewhat stagnant 2021, the 2022 edition of the festival seems to have returned to its all-singing, dancing, up-all-night best. But while the human stars may have returned to the Croisette and its screens in effect, what about their faithful companions? Have the cinematic dogs returned with the same kind of wagging tail?
As the festival nears its center, critics have already circled a few “paw” tentials for Palm Dog, the annual awards show celebrating the best dog performance across the official selection and various side bars.
Without a doubt the festival’s biggest blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverickmay have been more about the macho than the mutt, but Jennifer Connelly’s beagle Theo threw dog lovers a small bone in one scene and, according to Palm Dog founder Toby Rose, “gave dog kudos to Tom Cruise.”
Rose also highlights a number of Dalmatians in Vicky Krieps star “royal romp” Corsage from director Marie Kreutzer, plus some Dobermanns in Maha Haj’s Mediterranean fever which are all named after Arab poets. Then there’s Jasmine Trinca’s Marcel!who sees Alba Rohrwacher’s eccentric artist actually search for his beloved performing terrier (called of course Marcel).
But poochy experts are clearly making up for the wrong palm tree if there is any hint that any of these are the four-legged frontrunners. At this stage of Cannes, there is only one film with the snout in front of the herd. And at a distance.
Riley Keough and Gina Gammell’s War pony was originally called Animals, literally the name of the soft silver poodle in the middle of the film, giving a performance that is already getting critics hot under the collar. Adopted by the protagonist Bill, Beast (in real life called Brit) is often seen patiently waiting in the back of his car or babysitting his owner’s young children as he tries to rush around the Ridge Pine Reservation in South Dakota, providing the background for a of his money-making schemes (poodle breeding).
Adds some emotional depth to War ponyBeast’s current top dog status, Beast was also the beloved pet of co-author Bill Reddy (though Reddy’s Beast was a pit bull) and a companion whose death actually ignited the fuse that led to the film.
“He had a real connection to the dog, and it really affected us all,” Keough said The Hollywood Reporter before the festival. “And I feel that way [the day he died] inspired in a way the whole movie, and we thought, let’s make a story about Beast. “
Given the trend of stealing mutts making dramatic late arrivals at Cannes (see 2019 winner Brandy, Brad Pitts pitbull in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood), War pony may not be home and dry for the Palm Dog yet.
Speaking of ponies (a kind), it should also be noted that another animal has mulled itself into the conversation, with many Cannes heads turned by the donkey – the lead role and the title character – in Jerzy Skolimowski’s much-loved competition entry EO.
But Rose stubbornly makes any suggestion War pony‘s Beast has no reason to worry about the efforts of this beast of burden. “Every year an invasive species tries to detach the king dog, and this year is no different,” he says. “Palm measles? I do not think so.”
The Palm Dog Award will be presented at Cannes on May 27 at 13.00 local time. Location TBC.