The MTV Movie Awards don't matter, save for one category: Best Kiss. What gave the 2013 Best Kiss nominees their crucial edge? Let's dig deep.
First, though, we should be real: it's hard to take the MTV Movie Awards seriously. Take, for instance, this year's Best Male Performance category, which pits Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Matthew McConaughey against Josh Hutcherson of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Catching Fire was a great movie! Was Hutcherson as good as Matthew McConaughey playing an AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club? No!
But with the Oscars gone, we need some awards race to analyze. So here we are, breaking down the only race of any significance here. Unfortunately, this race has gotten boring in recent years, with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson winning from 2009 to 2012 for their saliva swapping in the Twilight movies. Last year, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper's tongue work in Silver Linings Playbook broke their streak. But this category needs a return to its glory days.
Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams for American Hustle
There's a long history of same-sex kisses being up for this award, going back to 1997 when Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon were up for their smooch in Bound. The first same-sex winners were Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair for Cruel Intentions, a year in which their titillating, porny learning-to-kiss scene was up against a kiss between Hillary Swank and Chloe Sevigny in the tragic Boys Don't Cry, which pretty much goes to show how the kisses up for this award can range from exploitative to honest. For another example of just how bizarre this category can be, note that in 2006 Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger won for Brokeback Mountain, and in 2007 Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen won for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. What does that say about the world?
So here we have Lawrence and Adams' angry smooch during their bathroom confrontation in American Hustle. Adams now famously takes credit for the kissing idea, and it does work well in the scene, capping how bananas this movie really is. Despite the fact that two gorgeous actresses are participating, it's not sexy and it's not meant to be. It's hard to know if the MTV voting public will get that.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson for Don Jon
This is probably the most boring inclusion on the list considering that it's two hot, well-liked, famous people sharing a fairly normal kiss. There is context—he's a porn addict!—but considering all the other nominees have notable defining features the star power is really what's driving this kiss's inclusion.
That doesn't mean it might not pull off a win though. Last year, for instance, a similar type of kiss—the one shared between Lawrence and Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook—won. There was no one iconic kiss in that movie, any more than there was on Don Jon, but was up against a weaker field and prevailed.
James Franco, Ashley Benson, and Vanessa Hudgens for Spring Breakers
This year has the inclusion of not one, but two three-way kisses, and this one may just be the one to take home the prize. The first three-way kiss to be nominated was the one shared between Matt Dillon, Denise Richards and Neve Campbell in Wild Things in 1999. Owen Wilson, Carmen Electra, and Amy Smart won for Starsky & Hutch in 2005.
The Spring Breakers kiss here is 90 percent trashy/10 percent artistic. This is a Harmony Korine movie, after all. It features two young female stars with MTV appeal, one bona fide movie star, some money, some guns, and some shit. Spring break forever, y'all.
Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now
The genuinely sweet kiss doesn't have much of a history in this category, perhaps save for the Moonrise Kingdom kids being nominated last year. Still, if we were to pick the winner of this year's prize, it would have to go to Woodley and Teller. They're just wonderful, and the kiss is remarkably real and spontaneous. It won't win because it doesn't feel like a Movie Kiss in the way MTV tends to define it, but that's why it should win if there was any reason to take this seriously.
Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, and Will Poulter for We're the Millers
Taking the purely comedic spot on the list is this three-way kiss from We're the Millers, in which Poulter's fake sister (played by Roberts) and fake mother (played by Jennifer Aniston) teach him how to kiss. The intentionally comedic kiss has had a long history in these awards, though this one is, in a way, tamer than most, with a more mild gross out element. It's the kind of manufactured outrageousness that won the award for Talladega Nights, but it's a far cry, for instance, from the comedy kiss between 1995 winners Jim Carrey and Lauren Holly in Dumb and Dumber.
Read the full list of nominees here.