The 'Dog Oscars'
Lady and the Tramp (1955) – Hamilton Luske
This fantastically designed animation tells the tale of two canines in love. It became an instant family classic that has not only withstood the test of time but also laid the foundations for more animal-based Disney productions to follow. Seductively drawn, it brings to life all its characters with its expressive motifs, cracking music, an energetic pace and dialogue that stands on its own two feet. Lady, a sweet little cocker spaniel bought up on luxury in Anytown, USA, comes across the charming Tramp, who having lived on the other side of the tracks, doesn’t care much for anything anymore. An unlikely romance is formed, before Tramps actions cause episodes of mayhem which have provided nostalgic, Disney-defining moments that have survived the decades. Undoubtedly one of Disney’s funniest productions it is crammed with illustrious characters – so thoughtfully created in their anthropomorphic manifestation – we have the arrogant Scots terrier Jock, the cavorting Pekingese Peg, the evil Siamese and the lolloping bloodhound Trusty, not to mention of course, the superb spaghetti waiters.
Homeward Bound (1993) – Duwayne Dunham
The dog-movie-loving-mania continues with this Disney remake of the 1963 hit The Incredible Journey that follows three household pets as they travel across mountains and plains to be reunited with their owners. A misunderstanding leads a golden retriever, a cat and a bulldog puppy to believe they’ve been abandoned when in reality, they have been left in the care of a friend whilst their family owners make a temporary move to the city. It’s a fantastic adventure film that will keep children glued to their seats in this playful, riveting and totally incorruptible remake.
101 Dalmatians (1996) – Clyde Geromini
This Disney animated classic, based on the children’s story by Dodie Smith involves the canine pets of a struggling composer and his wife; Dalmatians Pongo and Perdita. Perdita gives birth to fifteen pups, instigating the entrance of the devious Cruella De Vil. She demands that the dogs' owners sell her the pups, but she is forbidden. Thus, under the cover of night, Cruella arranges for the pups to be stolen. The police are baffled, but the "dog network" is alerted by Pongo and sent to rescue the puppies. It is discovered that Cruella has been rounding up every Dalmatian she can get her hands on, hoping to use their fur to make one remarkably evil coat. The dogs are then sent on a race against time to rescue the 15 pups, plus 86 others stolen by Ms. DeVil. 101 Dalmatians represents Disney animation at its very best introducing the world to Cruella De Vil, one of the greatest movie villains - cartoon or "real" - of all time.
Marley and Me (2008) – David Frankel
Newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan decide to leave behind the harsh winters of Michigan and head south to begin their new lives in West Palm Beach in Florida. As they begin their new lives together and begin to make their way through the challenges of a new marriage, new jobs and, possibly, the life-changing decision to start a family. However, in an attempt to stall Jennifer's "biological clock" the Grogans adopt a cute Labrador who in no time at all, grows into 100-pounds worth of unrestrained chaos, losing none of his puppy energy or riotousness. Marley’s antics give John rich material for his newspaper column and as the Grogans mature and have children of their own, Marley continues to test everyone's patience by acting like the world's most impulsive dog, yet this tag somehow seems to bring out the best in John and Jenny.
Hachi: A Dogs Tale (2009) – Lasse Hallstrom
Based on the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari, as well as on a true story, Hachi: A Dog's Tale stars Richard Gere as a college professor who finds an abandoned dog and takes the poor lost animal in. The film follows the two as man and dog soon form a strong and unexplainable bond in which Hachi shows an astonishing loyalty to his master, going to the station to see him off to work, and pick him up on his return, every day. Then, one day, Parker doesn’t come home. You’d have to own a heart of stone to prevent your throat from filling with a lump. Director, Lasse Hallstrom, fields this one perfectly, inducing teary eyes across the cinema audience.
Images courtesy of IMDB