Let's face it, Hollywood actors are a bunch of animals.

Luckily, sometimes they turn out to be the cute and furry sort, which is really better for all involved. The good news is that, thanks to the magic CGI and other special effects, the cuddly sort were all over the cineplex this year, making even the most notoriously difficult critters a director's dream and allowing animals some of the meatiest roles of the year.

Here are our picks for the cream of the crop (or herd, or flock, or colony... well, you get the idea). Let's face it, Hollywood actors are a bunch of animals.

Luckily, sometimes they turn out to be the cute and furry sort, which is really better for all involved. The good news is that, thanks to the magic CGI and other special effects, the cuddly sort were all over the cineplex this year, making even the most notoriously difficult critters a director's dream and allowing animals some of the meatiest roles of the year.

Here are our picks for the cream of the crop (or herd, or flock, or colony... well, you get the idea).


gforce photo10. Darwin the Guinea pig in 'G-Force'
We always thought of guinea pigs as the elementary school class pet most likely to meet an untimely demise after going home with some foolishly optimistic schoolmate for the winter holiday. So imagine our surprise to learn that they can actually, um, do stuff. Like solve crimes and program computers and possibly save the world. It also doesn't hurt when the guinea pig in question is voiced by Sam Rockwell. Yes, we like him better in 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,' but we'll take him with a wiggly pink nose and cute little ears, too. We're not picky.


hotel for dogs photo9. Friday the Jack Russell terrier in 'Hotel for Dogs'
We just want to say this right now -- we want our own Jack. He can run free through the city and yet always find his masters. He can get out of his collar and back again. He's super fast, can sit on a toilet and feed himself. Jack is the ideal dog. And, oh yeah, he's good and noble and loves his owners. And don't say, "It's just a movie." We can dream, can't we?


8. Steve the Monkey in 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs'
Only Neil Patrick Harris could make a throwaway role like this one memorable. Sure, Steve doesn't do much, other than say his name ("Steeeeeeeve!") and bounce around hyperactively, managing to mess up everything his poor owner Flint (played by Bill Hader) tries to do. And yet, he's still adorable. Maybe it's the animation, maybe it's the way Harris says "Steeeeeeeve!" We may never know, but that's OK.


7. The Goat in 'The Men Who Stare At Goats'
We don't know much about goats, and we're pretty sure George Clooney doesn't have any superhero powers (insert 'Batman & Robin' here). The goat didn't have to do much more than tip over. But that ridiculous-but-pivotal moment was enough to inspire us to give the goat a gold star. We're just wondering 1) how dumb goats really are and 2) how many takes it took to get one to flop over like that.


6. Brittany the Chipmunk 'Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel'
Yes, we could have picked Alvin, Simon or Theodore, but those 'munks are so 2007. Really, we just want to give it up to Brittany and her girls for doing a tiny, squeaky version of Beyonce's 'Single Ladies.' We didn't think there were any more laughs for chipmunks to milk in this follow-up to the first film, but that number (which gets the music video down right to the finger pointing choreography) changed our minds. And adding a little girl power to this boy-centric film franchise didn't hurt one bit.

where the wild things are photo5. Carol the Wild Thing in 'Where the Wild Things Are'
We're not really sure what kind of animal a wild thing is -- let's face it, they look more animal than monster; given the amount of fur, horns and general stomping around evidenced in this adaptation of the book, we're going with it. Granted, we don't know many animals that have such high levels of anxiety and depression, but we give Carol points for at least wanting to have a happy tribe of wild things, even if that didn't work out so well. Of course, we couldn't help but think that Tony wanted the same thing on 'The Sopranos,' but maybe that was just because we can't think of anything but 'The Sopranos' whenever we hear James Gandolfini's voice.


4. Prince Naveen the Frog in 'The Princess and the Frog'
We've always been in the "frogs are gross and slimy" camp, at least ever since we dissected one in ninth grade (hey, it was the only way we could get through it). But we're willing to overlook that if even once one of these amphibian slimeballs turned into a dashing prince. Especially a prince that sounds like Bruno Campos.


3. The Tiger in 'The Hangover'
Somehow we expect Mike Tyson to have a tiger. And we aren't even all that surprised to see it end up in the bathroom of a hotel suite in Vegas. But to actually see that tiger prowling around, well, it takes the joke to a whole other level. Sure, it could have been a panther or a pit bull, but seeing this golden-eyed beast looking hungry for its steak snack was both terrifying and hysterical. Sure, the tiger didn't act much, but really, the tiger didn't need to.


2. Mr. Fox in 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox'
We're fairly confident that most foxes don't wear pants in the wild. They don't worry about giving up a life of crime for a straight job. But we hardly care, given that this Mr. Fox is urbane, a good husband and wily enough to outsmart a bunch of stupid human farmers. Granted, that makes us feel a little bad about our own species, but we'll learn to live with it.


1. Dug the Dog in 'Up'
Sure, it's a heartwarming movie. Ed Asner is lovably irascible, Christopher Plummer is ominously evil. But for us, it was all about the dog. Dug, with his big brown eyes and permanent, adoring smile, reminds every dog owner of their own dog in the best possible way. We're betting the co-director of the movie, Bob Peterson (who voiced Dug himself) is a devoted dog person, as he nails Dug's eager but never annoying delivery. I mean, come on, "I hid under your porch because I love you"? That's dog speak if we ever heard it. Not that we have. But if our dogs could talk, they'd say something like that. By the way, where can we get one of those magic collars?