Spoiler alert. If you haven't seen or read Gone Girl yet, please turn back.
Animal lovers of all stripes know that onscreen pets can be a dicey situation, especially in a thriller like Gone Girl. If nothing is sacred to Amazing Amy, can a measly little marmalade cat be safe from harm? Actually, yes, and there's a very good reason why: Bleecker the cat (a.k.a. Cheeto) serves as an interesting barometer for how we're supposed to feel about Nick (Ben Affleck) or Amy (Rosamund Pike) during different scenes. It says a lot about each character how they interact with the cat — or don't, as the case may be.
Author Gillian Flynn told The Huffington Post: "There's a screenplay book called Save the Cat. It's all about making your character likable. In the first 10 minutes he should do something that makes you like him. I enjoyed that in the first 10 minutes [Nick] literally saves the cat." We could argue for days about Nick's character — in the book, it's much clearer that Nick craves and thrives on Amy's awful amazingness as much as he himself is a bit of a jerkbag — but the facts are, the dude loves his cat.
David Fincher loved Cheeto the cat, too...or at least the notoriously picky director loved how malleable Cheeto could be. In his Gone Girl commentary, Fincher said, "Cheeto was not very healthy. I think Cheeto was a little dehydrated. His fur was a little greasy and kind of matted. He didn't seem to hear very much. I don't know that he saw very much, but the beauty of Cheeto was wherever you placed Cheeto, that's where he was going to stay for that day. So continuity with Cheeto was never an issue. If you put Cheeto on the stairs, you can shoot for nine hours and at the end of the day, go, Cheeto's at the bottom of the stairs and you can pick him up. He was fantastic."
2014 had an embarrassment of pet performance riches, so be sure and check the entire list over at Slashfilm.