As the Oscar race heats up, we noticed there’s one interesting standout in the Best Picture category: this year’s Life of Pi, which featured a ferociously cool tiger (who was actually played by four tigers and a lot of CGI animation). So does the presence of a furry friend in a film help or hurt award chances? We decided to take a look at some past winners and nominated films that starred a different species to see how they fared.

The Artist

Last year’s Best Picture winner featured the Oscar-winning performance of Jean Dujardin, but for animal lovers, the real star of the film was Uggie, the Jack Russell Terrier. While he may not have walked away with an Oscar of his own, his on-screen tricks won enough hearts to score a book deal. His memoir, My Story, was published last October.


Nominated for Best Picture in 1996, Babe starred a cast of farm animals led by a lovable pig. In one of the sweetest moments in the movie (and there are so many that it is hard to choose just one!), the normally stoic farmer, played by James Cromwell, tries to help Babe get well by dancing a jig. That’ll do, pig.

March of the Penguins

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, March of the Penguins took home Oscar gold for Best Documentary in 2006. The true story follows emperor penguins on their journey to their breeding grounds in Antarctica and through the birth of their chicks. We were all left wanting to adopt a penguin or two.

War Horse

This story of a horse’s epic adventure through World War I was originally written as a children’s book by Michael Morpugo. It was adapted into an award-winning play, and last year, Steven Spielberg’s film version was nominated for Best Picture. A beautiful tearjerker, War Horse is a powerful reminder of why animals are our best friends.

The Cove

This documentary doesn’t evoke the warm fuzzies like other animal flicks; in fact, many of the scenes in this movie, which investigates the capture and killing of marine life in Japan, are difficult to watch. However, the film (which won Best Documentary in 2009) sends an important message about wildlife conservation and the realities of animal cruelty that still exist today.

Born Free

Mostly known for its Oscar-winning music, this 1966 film set in Kenya was an early precursor to many of the conservation films we see today. The story follows a game keeper who raises a lion cub and then helps train her to return to the wild. In addition, it was shot before the advent of special effects, so these lions are all real — and completely adorable!