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Meet the dog who outshone Ryan Gosling and Billie Eilish at Oscar’s annual luncheon

The 96th Oscars luncheon was a star-studded affair graced by nominees past and present, but one special guest stole the show.

Messi, the dog from Justine Triet’s Oscar-nominated film Anatomy of a Fall, had celebrities lining up to cuddle him.

Bradley Cooper, America Ferrera, Billie Eilish and Ryan Gosling were among the guests enamoured by the border collie at the luncheon, which took place at the Beverley Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on 12 February.

Ferrera knelt beside the dog, praising his cinematic performance. “You did a fabulous job,” she told him.

“It’s crazy, I think he’s much more famous here than in France,” said Justine Triet, who is up for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at next month’s Academy Awards.

In footage shared on social media, Barbie star Ryan Gosling appeared to be overcome with emotion while chatting with Messi and his trainers.

Gosling, 43, has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role as Ken in the record-breaking blockbuster directed by Greta Gerwig and produced by Margot Robbie.

Messi plays Snoop in the film, supporting Daniel who is blind (Picturehouse Entertainment/AP)
Messi plays Snoop in the film, supporting Daniel who is blind (Picturehouse Entertainment/AP)

According to Messi’s trainer, Laura Martin Contini, the French animal flew all the way from his home country to make his special appearance in Los Angeles.

In Anatomy of a Fall, the canine actor plays Snoop, a support dog for an 11-year-old boy called Daniel (played by Milo Machado Graner) who is blind.

Daniel is caught in the middle of a legal battle and media spectacle as his mother, a German novelist played by Sandra Hüller, is accused of throwing his father (Samuel Theis) to his death.

Throughout the film, Snoop is a source of support and guidance for Daniel as he deals with the fallout and grief.

Anatomy of a Fall is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Lead Actress and Film Editing. At the Cannes Film Festival last year, the movie won the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Messi fetched the Palm Dog, an annual award at the festival given to the best performance by a canine or group of canines (live or animated). The prize is a leather dog collar reading: “PALM DOG.”

Messi has been praised for his ‘fabulous’ acting by Oscar nominee America Ferrera (LES FILMS PELLEAS/ Picturehouse Entertainment)
Messi has been praised for his ‘fabulous’ acting by Oscar nominee America Ferrera (LES FILMS PELLEAS/ Picturehouse Entertainment)

The Oscars luncheon was attended by almost all nominees, although some were notably absent including Robert DeNiro (Killers of the Flower Moon), Jonathan Glazer (The Zone of Interest) and Jodie Foster (Nyad).

Nominees were also gently instructed to keep their acceptance speeches short with a time-limit of 45 seconds. Academy president Janet Yang jokingly referenced a 37-second speech by Javier Bardem in 2007 (for the Coen Brothers’ western drama No Country for Old Men) as a perfect example of a succinct acceptance.

The 96th Academy Awards will take place on 10 March.