2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards: 10 Best, Worst and WTF Moments - Rolling Stone
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2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards: 10 Best, Worst and Most WTF Moments

From that ‘Beast’-ly opening to inspiring speeches and gender-less awards – the good, bad and ugly of the blockbuster-friendly awards show

It was a big year for the MTV Movie Awards, even if seemed like business as usual. The network’s annual celebration of all things blockbuster-sized expanded to acknowledge the dominance and popularity of television: For the first time, shows like Atlanta and Game of Thrones were represented along with the usual multiplex heavy hitters like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Logan. It gave a shout-out to genres and categories that are often neglected by other
awards shows: see the Best Reality Competition and Trending categories. And it’s also gunning for the title of the most “woke” awards show out there: Name another ceremony that celebrates “Best Fight Against the System’ and strips gender out of its Best Actor accolades.

Plus, at a mere two hours – that’s roughly 1/32nd of your average Oscars ceremony’s running time – it’s a blessedly short event, and low on pretension. Host Adam Devine’s remarks were filled with sarcasm, self deprecation and a heavy dollop of sophomore humor. Sure, not every joke connected, but when you have Taraji P. Henson inspiring folks with her “God created everyone different” speech and Pitbull and Camilla Cabello tearing up the stage for their white-hot “Hey Ma” performance, they didn’t need to. Here are our picks for the 10 best, worst and most WTF moments of the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards.

Worst: That 'Beauty and the Beast' Opening Number

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Worst: That ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Opening Number

Sometimes, awards shows kick off the proceedings with a bells-and-whistles blast – and sometimes, they open with a high-energy thud. This year’s lengthy, unfunny Beauty and the Beast-themed skit wasn’t quite at the Rob-Lowe-sings-to-Snow White level, but it wasn’t a promising start. Host Adam Devine dutifully donned ram horns and furry boots, calling on Josh Gad, Hailee Steinfeld and other stars to help him out with a tweaked take on “Be Our Guest.” Not even the reliably funny Rebel Wilson, who appeared dressed as the teapot character Mrs. Potts, could do much with zingers like, “I wanted to look hot/ I’m wearing a teapot/ Man this really blows.” Devine brought the segment to close by holding a quavery note for an extended period and then quipping, “that could not have gone better.” The fact that he was in on the joke didn’t make the routine any less agonizing.

Best: The Gender-Free Acting Awards

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Best: The Gender-Free Acting Award

“The only distinction we should be making when it comes to awards is between each outstanding performance,” said Billions‘ star Asia Kate Dillon as she presented the trophy for Best Actor in a Movie. This year, MTV decided to consider men and women simultaneously in this category – a simple but radical switch. And when Emma Watson won the award for her role in Beauty and the Beast, she underlined the importance of breaking down such distinctions. “The first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience,” she declared. “… Empathy and the ability to use your imagination should have no limits.” Bravo.

Worst: Not Awarding 'Get Out' Best Movie of the Year

Worst: Not Awarding ‘Get Out’ Best Movie of the Year

Sure, Beauty and the Beast is currently the single most popular movie of 2017, yadda yadda yadda. And yes, the viewers vote on the winners. But throughout whole night, MTV congratulated itself for being progressive and forward-thinking, a platform that celebrated minority performers and ignored traditional gender binary categories. And then the Best Movie award went to a conventional Hollywood mainstay … not to mention a fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever, and a remake to boot. Honoring a film like Get Out – a popular, thought-provoking, diversity-promoting exception to Hollywood’s never-ending stream of sequels and superhero movies – would have demonstrated that MTV was really willing to put its money where its mouth is.

Best: Taraji P. Henson's 'Best Fight Against the System' Speech

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Best: Taraji P. Henson’s ‘Best Fight Against the System’ Speech

Henson’s speech as she accepted the Best Fight Against the System award for her role in Hidden Figures was a potent reminder that blockbusters can still resonate outside of the theater. “This movie was bigger than all of us,” she said. “No one ever told me that girls couldn’t do math and science, but there was an understanding that it was for boys. I remember getting this script and being very upset, because I felt like a dream was stolen from me. It became my mission and everyone’s mission who was involved with this film to dispel that myth so that another young girl would not grow up thinking that her mind wasn’t capable of grasping math and science.”

Worst: Vin Diesel's Flatter-Than-Usual 'Fast & Furious' Speech

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Worst: Vin Diesel’s Flatter-Than-Usual ‘Fast & Furious’ Speech

The Furious franchise has become enormously successful for many reasons: a preponderance of ridiculously over-the-top automotive stunts, its arena-rap/pop soundtrack, it’s over-the-top thrills, spills and sentimentality. So it was surprising that Vin Diesel’s speech while he accepting an honor for the franchise felt so lifeless. “I gotta thank our generation,” he said – as he held up the Generation Award. Ok then. Surrounded by his costars, he shouted out to the fans and their late companion “Pablo,” a.k.a. Paul Walker, but given his usual hyped-up stumping over the years for the mega-popular series, this felt curiously rote. (Still, we’d take his flatlining platitudes over John Cena’s “Next-Generation” award intro, which attempted to make fun of how out-of-date he was: “Wazzup MTV fam, these are the dopest, freshest, on-fleek-est cats in Tinseltown.” Just, no.)

Best: J. Balvin/Pitbull/Camilla Cabello's 'Hey Ma' Performance

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Best: J. Balvin/Pitbull/Camilla Cabello’s ‘Hey Ma’ Performance

The trio packed energy and excitement into a finely tuned, joyous performance of “Hey Ma,” their single from the soundtrack to The Fate of the Furious. Balvin played it cool, strutting in black leather and limiting his movements, but no one at the award ceremony had louder hair: a rainbow shock of color, starting turquoise close to his scalp and swirling into a slew of other festive shades. Pitbull was his usual, relentlessly enthusiastic self, an old-school showman with suave dance moves and nimble raps, while Camila contributed flowery, melismatic vocal runs. The whole thing gave the show a quick, much-needed shot of adrenaline.

Big Sean's D.O.A. 'Jump Out the Window'

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Worst: Big Sean’s D.O.A. ‘Jump Out the Window’

The rapper delivered a listless version of his latest I Decided single at the Shrine Auditorium before premiering the song’s music video at midnight. Big Sean was oddly dwarfed by the size of the fake building he stood on for much of the song; he hardly moved from his perch, which didn’t help the lackluster performance any. Meanwhile, his singing and rapping were casual to the point of enervating, and the whole affair lacked any sense of drama. The audience, sensing that nothing was at stake, mostly remained impassive, even when Sean pulled in elements from Ginuwine’s crowd-pleasing 1990s hit “Pony.”

Best: 'Logan' Star Dafne Keen, Professional Scene Stealer

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Best: ‘Logan’ Star Dafne Keen, Professional Scene Stealer

The pint-sized secret weapon of ‘Logan’ looked especially tiny next to Jackman onstage, but she asserted herself immediately, mocking and berating her co-star. “I don’t speak for half of the movie and you get to say the thank you’s?” she said incredulously. “No.” After commandeering the mic, she turned to the erstwhile Wolverine again to poke fun at his acceptance speech. “You didn’t thank your parents?!”? Keen proceeded to thank them on his behalf, then read a few more names before announcing, “This is boring.” If she can escape the X-Men universe, the kid has a promising future in comedy.

Worst: The Overlong, Painfully Unfunny 'Upside Down/Sunken Place' Sketch

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Worst: The Overlong ‘Upside Down/Sunken Place’ Sketch

Devine combined motifs from Stranger Things (“the upside down”) and Get Out (“the sunken place”) for a dragged-out segment that served mostly as an excuse for jokes about interspecies sex acts. Once again, the host pulled in high-flying guests – the R&B singer Trey Songz, pretending to be a grown-up version of the Stranger Things character Lucas, for no particular reason; Aubrey Plaza as a demonic, possessive version of Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven – but they weren’t enough to salvage half-assed material. “I just climbed out of a tree’s butthole, because that’s how much I care about this show,” Devine said at the end of the skit. Both the TV series and the movie deserved better.

Mark Wahlberg's Don't-Give-a-F--ck 'Transformers' Trailer Intro

Best: Mark Wahlberg’s Don’t-Give-a-F–ck ‘Transformers’ Trailer Intro

Nobody at the entire award ceremony gave fewer fucks than Wahlberg. He took the stage in a tight t-shirt and ill-fitting jeans, like there wasn’t a camera in sight, and proceeded to speak about the Transformers franchise as if he’d caught the original’s last 10 minutes at the end of a bleary plane ride a decade ago. “I’m here to tell you about my huge new movie, Transformers: The Last Knight,” he said, without an ounce of emotion or interest in his voice. “Its pretty simple, here’s the synopsis: Uh, giant, badass robots kicking the crap out of each other, and I do some cool shit too. Check out the clip. The clip is better than me.” He was wrong there. We’d easily watch two hours of Wahlberg doing this than giant robots kicking the crap out of each other any day.

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