Perhaps the most significant of the many ways in which the MTV Movie Awards contrasts the Oscars (other than its far more diplomatic ruling on Best Kiss year after year) is the tendency to recognize and honor films that its viewers have actually seen. Potshots have been taken at the Academy Awards for restricting its nominations to movies that haven’t actually reached, or, as such, had any profound effect on, the general public—a few notable jokes came from Michael Che during his hosting gig of Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update, and from Chris Rock during his hosting gig of… the Oscars. But the MTV broadcast lives at the other end of this spectrum, having granted its top honor last night not only to a popular movie, but to the popular movie.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, which was nominated 11 times across nine categories at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards, took home three trophies: Breakthrough Performance for star Daisy Ridley (now internationally inseparable from her identity as Rey, no doubt), Best Villain for Adam Driver, and the coveted Movie of the Year.
Though any movie awards organizations’ heraldries are by definition subjective, one can clearly understand the psychology behind MTV’s recognition of The Force Awakens with the top prize. Not only did the latest entry in the canon become America’s highest grossing movie of the year, it ultimately proved to be America’s highest grossing movie ever.
Ridley was also nominated for the Best Hero award, as was her costar John Boyega, who likewise earned a Best Action Performance nod. Lupita Nyong’o, the woman behind Maz Kanata, and Andy Serkis, the human soul lurking deep within Supreme Leader Snoke, both landed nominations in the Best Virtual Performance category.
Another testament to the MTV Movie Awards’ populist psychology: Deadpool, which has so far this year overperformed to such a degree as to influence other superhero franchises to entertain the R-rated route. Deadpool won awards for Best Fight and for Best Comic Performance (for star Ryan Reynolds), and boasted six additional nominations (including Movie of the Year).
While popularity should by no means have a stronghold on any organization or individual’s evaluation of subjective appeal, it is worth paying notice to the sort of cultural and industrial impact that movies like Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Deadpool have clearly displayed. Plus, any screen time spent with an elated Daisy Ridley is worthwhile.