It's a tribute to the influence of the MTV Movie Awards that so many A-listers show up for the annual kudo-fest. The 2012 edition, the cable net’s 21st, aired live Sunday, June 3, 2012, from a packed Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles, featured -- in addition to a bevy of up-and-comers -- people who have had collective decades in the spotlight, including Jodie Foster, Johnny Depp, Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston and Christian Bale.
And then there was the reigning evil queen of the box office, Charlize Theron. But it was her “Snow White and the Huntsman” co-star and “Twilight” princess Kristen Stewart, clad in tennis shoes and a mini-dress, who stole the show.
This year’s competition was billed as a showdown between "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" and "The Hunger Games" -- both massive blockbusters that feature love triangles -- although “THG” led with eight noms to “Twilight’s” two.
Host Russell Brand kept emphasizing the battle, calling out both films repeatedly in a schtick mildly reminiscent of David Letterman’s “Uma, Oprah” Oscar shout-out. Unlike Letterman’s groan-inducing routine, Brand’s was met with audible audience approval.
In his opening monologue, he claimed he had another agenda aside from hosting, saying, “The last MTV awards show I hosted I ended up marrying someone who was there, so I will be keeping my eyes peeled tonight for my next wife.”
But much of his attention seemed to be focused on two other men in the audience, Charlie Sheen and Michael Fassbender. Referring to the latter’s full-frontal role in “Shame,” Brand commented, “If I get him too aroused I could lose an eye.” He called out Sheen for looking sober, but having a “gram of cocaine and bottle of Hennessy” under his seat.
Before plugging his new movie “Rock of Ages,” saying it’s the best musical since “Grease” and then taking a predictable shot at John Travolta, he commended Kim Kardashian on her short marriage for taking the heat off his brief alliance with Katy Perry, whom he had famously wooed during his 2009 stint hosting MTV’s Video Music Awards.
With the two favorite films going head-to-head in just two categories -- the biggie, Movie of the Year and another, always hotly contested, prize for Best Kiss -- Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Co. snatched both of those Golden Popcorn trophies from the citizens of Panem.
For Best Kiss, it was the fourth straight year K-Stew has been crowned for getting cozy with R-Patz, who plays the romantic vampire Edward to her Bella. "God, Rob's not here, you guys. I don't really know what to do," said Stewart, who pretended to make out with herself in accepting the award.
But “The Hunger Games” collected a healthy share of hardware, with Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Female Performance, Josh Hutcherson nabbing Best Male Performance, Elizabeth Banks winning Best On Screen Transformation and Hutcherson and Lawrence against Alexander Ludwig taking Best Fight.
Banks’ prize was for one of five new categories in the competition this year that also included Best Music, Best Gut-Wrenching Performance, Best Cast and Best On-Screen Dirtbag.
You wouldn’t think Aniston would be up for -- and win -- in a category called Best Dirtbag, but then you must have missed “Horrible Bosses,” a film from which an almost unrecognizable Colin Farrell was also a contender, as were Bryce Dallas Howard, for “The Help,” Jon Hamm, for “Bridesmaids,” and Oliver Cooper in “Project X.”
The newly crowned dirtbag came dressed in short black leather -- and on this show, nearly every single female on stage showed a lot of leg -- and thanked “Friends” for paving the way for her role as a sex-crazed dentist.
The “Harry Potter” series may be gone, but it’s certainly not forgotten. Emma Watson was on hand to accept the award for Best Cast for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2."
MTV is often accused of abandoning its musical roots, but the awardscast’s performances showed why there is still “music” in the moniker, with rousing riffs from Fun., Wiz Khalifa and the Black Keys.
One of the high points was Johnny Depp jamming on guitar on two songs with the Keys, in celebration of being given MTV’s version of a lifetime achievement award, its Generation Award, presented to him by Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
"This is quite an amazing honor, truly. It's like the Get-Out-Of-The-Business Award, 'All right, you've done too much,'" Depp said in accepting the award, adding, "And it's an honor to be presented by these two legends, Steve and Joe, and these up-and-coming legends, [The Black Keys], so thank you very much."
Emma Stone, soon to be seen in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” received the MTV Movie Awards’ first-ever “Trailblazer Award,” which honors an actor for carving out a unique path in Hollywood.
In a heartfelt speech, the 23-year-old actress honored her comedy idols, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Charlie Chaplin and Lorne Michaels, along with other inspirational figures to her, the Beatles and director/writer Cameron Crowe.
"Those people are my creative trailblazers but I am not following any of their paths," she said, suggesting people should find what makes them unique.
With the awards show an ideal venue to plug upcoming films, the cast of "The Dark Knight Rises" was on hand to introduce never-before-seen footage from the latest Batman caper, set to unspool July 20.
Christian Bale, who plays the Caped Crusader, got emotional after a clip reel that had glimpses of the late Heath Ledger from the second film in the series, "The Dark Knight."
“Man, great to remember Heath in that moment," Bale said, choking up. "Wonderful to see Heath Ledger there."
And in another sign of the trilogy’s resonance, director Christopher Nolan was given a standing ovation before the new footage was unveiled.
It will be hard to say goodbye to Batman, just as it was to send off Mr. Potter into celluloid history.