The 5 Best Animal Performances of 2012

[caption id="attachment_157797" align="alignleft" width="300"]Life of Pi 20th Century Fox[/caption]

Awards season is now underway, which means for the next few months Hollywood will carry out its competitive annual tradition of putting roses on the noses, so to speak, of the year's decidedly best actors and actresses of the human variety. Looking back at some of the finest flicks from 2012, though, we noticed some pretty significant contributions coming in courtesy of the rest of the animal kingdom.

So, to throw our furry film friends a proverbial golden bone, here are our top five picks for tail-waggingest animal performances of the year.

5. Bella as Snoopy in 'Moonrise Kingdom'

[caption id="attachment_157798" align="alignright" width="300"]Moonrise Kingdom Focus Features[/caption]

The ensemble rallied up for Wes Anderson's jaunty "Moonrise Kingdom" made for one insanely impressive and electric group, but the talent on two legs certainly didn't overshadow Bella the fox terrier. The wily pooch, whose real-life survival story wins all the smiles as well, made excellent use of her screen time and had one especially impactful (albeit a touch unfortunate) moment on the field which drew some well-deserved gasps from the crowd.

4. Oscar as Scotty in 'Ruby Sparks'

[caption id="attachment_157799" align="alignright" width="300"]Ruby Sparks Fox Searchlight[/caption]

For a newcomer to the biz, Oscar the pint-sized border terrier sure did a nice job as the eccentric Scotty in "Ruby Sparks." The semi-neurotic dog looked great in glasses and was the requisite amount of irritating — like his on-screen owner — when he was supposed to be. Most importantly he served his purpose as a nimble little chick magnet — at least with regard to one pseudo-fictional lady.

Also Check Out: The 15 Biggest Movie News Stories of 2012

3. Mickey as Hey Man in 'Rock of Ages'

[caption id="attachment_157800" align="alignright" width="300"]Rock of Ages Warner Bros.[/caption]

Not surprisingly, having a baboon run around on the set of "Rock of Ages" made for some interesting behind-the-scenes moments. Per director Adam Shankman, there was that one time when tricky Mickey got loose and started freaking out the crowd of extras just because. Not to mention poor Paul Giamatti infamously got some unwelcome face time with the primate's posterior region a time or two. Still, for a character which wasn't even in the original script — rather, a comic brainchild of Tom Cruise — Hey Man became pretty clutch in showcasing Stacee Jaxx's wild nature.

2. Bonny as Bonny in 'Seven Psychopaths'

[caption id="attachment_157801" align="alignright" width="300"]Seven Psychopaths CBS Films[/caption]

Talk about a scene stealer. Bonny the too-stinkin'-cute two-year-old shih tzu totally convinced as the kinda lady whose kidnapping would set a gangster chase scene into motion in "Seven Psychopaths," and not only was she a total pro on the set, but she also made a big fan (and bodyguard) of one of her co-stars. Christopher Walken admitted he couldn't help but become putty in her pretty little paws every time she laid googly eyes on him and made sure to keep an eye out for the girl in-between takes. Funny thing is, the tiny first-time actress was pound-bound before hitting the big screen, but thanks to the wonders of Craigslist she was scooped up by an owner with an eye for her heart-swelling potential. By the by, it's just a case of kismet that her real-life name is the same as her character's.

1. Richard Parker in 'Life of Pi'

Whether Richard Parker was a real tiger or an elegant mirror figment of Pi's imagination is still ripe for film nerd debate, but the fact that the beautiful Bengal owned its audience is not. Four real-life tigers were used for CGI reference and actual portrayal of some scenes, but nothing was more real than the tale of teamwork and triumph weaved in large part by this gorgeous creature in Ang Lee's "Life of Pi."

Get more Best of 2012 here.