Along with the Tony Award Nominations -- which Roommate Mark and I broke down over at The Critical Condition -- yesterday brought us the nominees for the 2011 MTV Movie Awards. If you're like me, you blasted right past the nominations for Best Movie, Best Actress, or Best Performance by a Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler and went straight to Best Kiss. The nominees this year:
Ellen Page & Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Inception
Emma Watson & Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Kristen Stewart & Taylor Lautner - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Natalie Portman & Mila Kunis - Black Swan
I felt like these nominations deserved as hard-hitting analysis as anything else. So I called upon Roommate Mark to return the favor and dig into Best Kiss, past AND present.
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Joe: I should say that I hold a place in my heart for the MTV Movie Awards.
Even if I may not have watched them in years.
Mark: Okay! I was wondering. It's not that I'm opposed to discussing them, per se, but I had ... forgotten about them? Kind of? I seem to remember Scream winning an award. And Jason Voorhies. And Wes Anderson for Bottle Rocket, which retrospectively is cool.
Joe: Yeah, see, what happened was, we changed when we got older, but at the same time, MTV got younger. Or so I like to tell myself.
Mark: No, that makes sense. It's like an extension of Matthew McConaughey's "high school girls" thing in Dazed and Confused.
Joe: The reason I like to talk about Best Kiss -- as opposed to whatever the fuck they think is the Best Picture (these days: Twilight and nothing but) -- is because it's the thing that always made the MTV Awards distinctive.
Mark: True that. "My first kiss, and I got an award!"
Joe: These days, there's all these straining-to-be-cool categories. "Best Scared as Shit Performance" -- which makes me want to die.
Mark: I was JUST going to say. It's so desperate. And sad. Like MTV is actually scared as shit that it won't be cool.
Joe: But, like, remember when they used to give awards for Most Desirable Female and Male?
Mark: Oh, yes! I remember Sharon Stone winning.
Joe: Me too! Remember how weird she was with that speech? "You desiiire me! You really desiiiire me"
Mark: [lowers the sunglasses]
Joe: Weirdly, though, that kind of illustrates the difference in MTV then and now.
Mark: Oooh! Do tell!
Joe: Because a movie like Basic Instinct is so not in the MTV wheelhouse anymore. But it totally was then! Like, Black Swan is nominated this year, but it doesn't seem like it fits, right?
Mark: You're totally right. Because a category like "Most Desirable Male" feels somewhat connected to what both teens AND adults would disucss. While "Biggest Badass Action Star" signals that we are in a zone just one step above the Nick Kids Awards. (Or whatever they're called. With the slime and the blimps.)
Joe: So I feel like Best Kiss is my last connection to those days. The Sex in the '90s / Rock N Jock days.
Mark: I totally get this now. It's both nostalgia for the past and engagement with the present.
Joe: And even though it's just going to be one more award to give to Twilight, my hope is that Best Kiss will be here when Twilight is dead and gone.
(This is all probably tied into why I still watch The Real World, but that is a whole other discussion.)
Mark: It's weird, too, that of all the "fun categories" they had, Best Kiss and Best Villain are all that remain. (Don't lie. You would be on The Real World if they'd have you.)
Joe: I will say, though, that it's kind of smart to just throw up K-Stew & R-Pattz vs. K-Stew & Lautner and let the twi-hards fight it out at $.99 per text message or whatever.
Joe: But I can't exactly engage with those choices on their merits. Mostly because the chemistry isn't there in either pairing.
Mark: That's such a pandering pair of nominees, but then again, MTV knows where its bread is buttered.
Joe: But like, if they really wanted to give it to a honest-to-god hot kiss in an MTV Demographic movie, they'd have gone for Amanda Seyfried and Shiloh Fernandez in Red Riding Hood.
Mark: I appreciate that the obligatory "Dude, Gay Shit" nominee is present.
Joe: Oh, let's get to Gay Shit in due time. Because: I have thoughts
Mark: Okay! We'll hold. But you make an interesting case for Red Riding Hood.
Joe: Like, that was some honestly hot chemistry
Mark: Are you suggesting that MTV is just nominating what's popular and not looking at kisses on their artistic and erotic merits?
Joe: I KNOW I CAN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER.
Mark: SLOW DOWN.
Joe: Historically, Best Kiss goes for one of 3-4 types of kisses: 1) the popular movie
Which as far as this year's slate goes is, like, all of them.
Mark: 2) The lezzies
Joe: YES. 2) Avant Garde, which encompases gay, lesbian, or 3-way kissing, and possibly human-animal kissing.
Mark: Yes. Fair.
Joe: Which makes me sound like Rick Santorum, but you know what I mean.
Mark: Oh, I do, RUSH LIMBAUGH.
Joe: OKAY! 3) Famous and/or notable kisses, i.e. the Spider-Man upside-down kiss. Or the kiss is Species where she kills the guy with her alien tongue. And 4) two incredibly hot performers kissing.
Mark: Your Gosling/McAdams.
Joe: YES! My example exactly!
Mark: May I suggest a 5th category?
Mark: 5) The Joke Kiss
Mark: i.e. Talledega Nights or American Pie 2.
Joe: Yeah, usually the joke kiss is the gay kiss, but yes.
Mark: Oh.. damn. You're right.
Joe: But there's the two-sided (or three-sided) coin when it comes to gay kisses and MTV, because they also went and gave Best Kiss to Brokeback Mountain.
Mark: But see, that HAD to win because it's both Avant Garde and Important.
AND it's got 2 hot stars. It's 3 of 4 categories.
Joe: True, but it put a gay kiss on equal footing to Two Hot Hetero Stars.
Mark: Which is key.
Joe: Not to imbue this category with more importance than it deserves. But a small tip of the hat.
Mark: Looking at the list, actually, I felt like the nominees sort of mapped out America's growing acceptance of diverse sexualities. I mean, right? A little?
Joe: A little.
Mark: Because at first, it's all just women kissing in straight-fantasy ways. i.e. Bound. And then eventually you get your Brokebacks. And the nomination for James Franco and Sean Penn.
Joe: I still feel like every lesbian kiss they nominate is a "HOT! Chicks making out!" thing. But...hey, sometimes it's hot when two hot chicks make out.
Mark: Yeah. I can see that. It's not like they nominate Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Like you said: "A small tip of the hat." Small steps forward are better than no steps forward. Have you noticed, too, that certain kinds of kisses seem to get nominated but never win?
The RomCom kiss, for instance. A perpetual bridesmaid.
Joe: Totally. It's kind of hilarious to look at who won the first Best Kiss. [Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky for My Girl in 1992.]
Mark: RIGHT?!?! It's such an aberration! Because the "cute kiss" is another frequent loser.
Joe: They should bring Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky out for a reunion kiss. Like they did for The Breakfast Club. Maybe next year for the 20th anniversary.
Mark: Yes, they should.
Mark: And let's be frank, that Anna Chlumsky line that I quoted before is one of the key touchstones in this show's history.
Joe: Um, YES.
Mark: The Chlumsky/Culkin kiss won the award during the same year that The Real World premiered. In both cases, they represent a sweet, almost innocent beginning to something that has become much tawdrier. Coincidence?
Joe: Well now I have a graduate thesis.
Mark: Apply for grant money!
Joe: "Do you sell drugs, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson? Why would you make out on a pile of money?"
Mark: Are there other kisses you feel were unfairly overlooked this year?
Joe: Well, I looked at the list of movies that came out. There weren't a ton that jumped out at me. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long had a good Comedy Kiss moment in Going the Distance. Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore actually had a way better lesbian kiss in Chloe than the one in Black Swan. And if this were a real award with real merit, something from Blue Valentine would've gotten in.
Mark: See, I like that. That's a kiss that actually forwards our understanding of the film.
From Blue Valentine, I mean.
Joe: That said, I kind of like two of the nominees MTV gave us
Mark: Do tell!
Joe: That Ellen Page/Joseph Gordon-Levitt kiss from Inception had real chemistry (JGL has chemistry with EVERYTHING in that movie) and really stood out in a movie that didn't have much in the way of overt romance. And the Harry/Hermione kiss in Deathly Hallows kind of had it all: history, danger, sweetness.
Mark: Though I will say that it terms of iconic movie kisses, I do feel the Black Swan kiss merits inclusion.
Joe: I do too. I just resent the MTV audience for liking that kiss for the wrong reasons.
Joe: Okay! Closing thoughts: what was your favorite Best Kiss nomination that never won. And favorite one that did.
Mark: Ooh. I like it. Okay, nominees for "should've won" include Franco/Penn in Milk and Christine Taylor/Christopher Daniel Barnes in A Very Brady Sequel.
But for me, the winning loser (as it were) has got to be Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore in Hannibal.
Joe: Whoa! Avant Garde Kiss!
Mark: To the extreme, player.
Joe: I like it.
Mark: It's a kiss that fundamentally changes that movie. AND it still weirds me out to this day.
Joe: I hated that movie to the extreme, but I respect your choice.
Mark: How about you?
Joe: Okay, my favorite non-winner: Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in William Shakespeare's Romeo Plus Juliet. Because COME ON.
Mark: Good choice! So romantic!
Joe: And I think my favorite winner -- while throwing an honorable mention to Step Up 2 The Streets because we tight -- would probably be Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions.
Mark: Ha! Awesome.
Joe: Which is notable for the same reasons I'm annoyed that Black Swan is nominated. But it felt actually slightly dangerous back in 1999. Which it totally shouldn't have for normal adult people, but I was a sheltered just-outta-high-schooler.
Mark: Well, and SB wasn't just dreaming it when SMG manipulated her into a lesbian make-out session.
Joe: WORD. God, that movie.
Mark: I need to re-watch it.
Joe: I should do a week of Cruel Intentions posts. Half of them dedicated to Ryan Phillippe's sweet, sweet caboose.
Mark: My favorite winner, by the way, is Gyllenhaal/Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
Joe: A great choice.
Mark: It may be my favorite kiss in any movie, ever.
Joe: Better than Mark Wahlberg and Elizabeth Banks in Invincible??
Mark: What the fuck movie is that?
Joe: He's a football player plucked from obscurity.
Mark: Oh, right.
Joe: She's...probably his wife.
Mark: Before we go.
Mark: I'm feeling weird nostalgia about the 1993 win. Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei for Untamed Heart.
Joe: UNTAMED HEART! Did she kiss his wicked chest scar?
Mark: It feels like that win comes from an alternate universe, where that movie launched their careers as romantic leads.
Joe: I remember thinking Christian Slater was the most fuckable thing on two legs back then.
Mark: Didn't everyone?
Joe: I think he won Most Desirable Male for that movie.
Mark: Seriously: If things had gone a little differently, that movie would be The Notebook.
Joe: (Wiki-check: he did!) OMG, go look who he beat out.
Mark: Aaah! Jean-Claude Van Damme?
Joe: A murderer's row of destined-to-be-grossness! Cruise! Costner! Sugar-Tits!
Mark: It's a category full of boner killers!
Joe: For real.
Mark: Well, with my boner properly killed, I thank you for a great chat.
Joe: To a Harry/Hermione win!
Mark: If Harry/Hermione wins, then it would be a nice throwback to Chlumsky/Culkin, too.
Joe: Aw, true! They won't, but let's never watch and pretend they did!