‘Hunger Games,’ Zac Efron’s abs win at 2014 MTV Movie Awards

Every year, young Hollywood descends upon one of the many amphitheaters of Los Angeles to promote their hotly anticipated summer movies at the MTV Movie Awards. With categories such as Best Kiss and Best Shirtless Performance, there is no pretense that the festivities are anything more than televised bubblegum, filled to the brim with comedic sketches and segments aimed at the things MTV’s demographic holds dear.

Despite the show’s young skew, the event was emceed by late-night talk show staple and previous Emmy host Conan O’Brien. Compared to hosts in years past, O’Brien projected a poised legitimacy absent from the performances of recent hosts, including “Bridesmaids” actress Rebel Wilson and comedian Russell Brand. That is not to say that the late-night host did not bask in the inherent low-brow nature of the show, which included O’Brien simulating the act of taking a nude self-portrait that flashed at winners when their speeches ran too long.

Otherwise, the 2014 MTV Movie Awards proved to be a largely inconsequential affair. Fans of “Transformers” and “X-Men” were treated to new footage of the upcoming films in those franchises, but those who watch the show in hopes of the outrageous comedic stunts MTV award shows are notorious for were bound to be disappointed. The only moment from the event with the power to send social media into a frenzy was the on-stage undressing of Best Shirtless Performance winner Zac Efron: a relatively tame gesture in the age of Miley Cyrus twerking and Eminem getting a faceful of Sacha Baron Cohen’s posterior.

 

 

While there was a lack of irreverence during the telecast, the reverence in the show’s many tribute segments is commendable. The late “Fast & Furious” actor Paul Walker received a touching tribute, as did actors Mark Wahlberg and Channing Tatum, who won the Generation Award and Trailblazer Award respectively.

As for the awards themselves, there was a surprising amount of congruence with last month’s Academy Awards, with prestigious dramas such as “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club” receiving accolades from an awards show targeted at viewers who would rather watch “We’re the Millers.” This was reflected in the winners of the awards, many of which were voted on by fans at MTV.com.

The top prize for Movie of the Year was presented by “Transcendence” actor Johnny Depp and was given to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Actor Josh Hutcherson, who also won the Best Male Performance award for the film, accepted the Movie of the Year award as the film’s lone representative at the event. Jennifer Lawrence also won Best Female Performance for the film, her third consecutive win in the category with past wins for “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Hunger Games.”

The show’s most distinct award, Best Kiss, was awarded to Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, and Will Poulter for their ambiguously incestuous three-way kiss in “We’re the Millers,” which was a fitting complement to sight gag in which Seth Rogen made out with his “mother” just minutes before the award was presented. The “We’re the Millers” kiss won against an especially sultry kiss between Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and James Franco in “Spring Breakers” as well as a passionate embrace between Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams in “American Hustle.” Poulter also won the Best Breakthrough Performance award for his role in the film.

In what was seen to be a significant spoiler of the twist in Disney’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” Mila Kunis was graced with the Best Villain award. Jared Leto, who has been no stranger to the podium this awards season, received a golden popcorn statue for Best On-Screen Transformation in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

As the event aired on MTV, it was only fitting that there were musical performances by Rihanna, Eminem, Twenty One Pilots, Zedd and Ellie Goulding.

Reach the reporter at zheltzel@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel