Unprecedented Industry Panel Signals Wind Change At 2012 MTV Movie Awards

The 2012 MTV Movie Awards nominees list is in, and voting has begun. In a year widely seen as one of the best for films in a very long time, MTV has radically changed the way nominees are chosen for its movie awards show.

For the first time ever, instead of nominations being decided by MTV’s own producers and executives, a panel of industry insiders, billed as “a voting academy” of producers, directors, actors and agents, were assigned the task of deciding the contenders for the 12 revamped award categories, which will then be voted on by the public.

In the “Breakthrough Performance”award category, absolutely no public voting is allowed. MTV has decided that a coterie of “outstanding directors” will vote on the winner. The remaining 11 categories are open to public vote.

Predictably, The Hunger Games scored multiple across-the-board nominations, 8 in all. As did Bridesmaids. The “Movie of the Year” category is now being hailed as a record one for females. These two films will now battle with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Twilight Saga:Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and The Help for the title.

Undeniably the “Best Female Performance” category reflects the wind change in MTV’s outlook the most. This year’s selection notably ignoring Kristen Stewart’s strong performance in Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Contenders this year include Jennifer Lawrence for The Hunger Games, Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Emma Watson for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Kristin Wiig for Bridesmaids and Emma Stone for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

For “Best Male Performance”, Daniel Radcliffe gets a nod for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Joseph Gordon-Levitt for 50/50, Ryan Gosling for the grossly overlooked Drive, Josh Hutcherson for The Hunger Games and Channing Tatum, for The Vow.

Five new categories, “Best On-Screen Transformation”, “Best Gut Wrenching Performance”, “Best Cast”, “Best On-Screen Dirtbag” and “Best Music” have also been introduced with the blessing of Jesse Ignjatovic, last year VMA’s producer and the man charged with producing this year’s movie awards – hence the emphasis on music at this year’s throwdown.

MTV’s Movie awards have always paid attention to the hit films of the day. In its decade long history, winners of the “Movie of the Year” have typically always been the film everyone is talking about, with grosses to match. Need proof? Skip to the left hand side bar of this link and scroll back through the years.

For a decade at MTV, winners have ranged from pure popcorn fodder like Transformers and Scream but also more thoughtful offerings like Gladiator, Pulp Fiction, and Seven. All of which raises the question as to why MTV feels the need to change its voting policy now?

As Marc Snetiker at Entertainment Weekly put it, “Will [the new voting academy] mean we’re going to see less Twilight and Harry Potter and more Winter’s Bone and Monsieur Lazhar?” Snetiker concluded it wouldn’t. Nevertheless the reality that MTV is hoping to stem the aggregate power of certain fandoms by slanting the available choices is obvious.

For the last three years The Twilight Saga has pretty much monopolized the big wins and focus of MTV’s Movie Awards. Now that it’s coming to the end of its cycle this November, MTV- as always keen to run with the zeitgeist, The Hunger Games, grossing $ 155 million in its opening weekend, and only just knocked off its four week run at the top – has clearly initiated the new changes to ensure it’s not backing the wrong horse. Political? Not half.

It’s unlikely MTV have made the changes in order to include The Artist and We Need To Talk About Kevin as nominees. Tellingly, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 has been nominated for just two categories, “Best Kiss” and “Movie of the Year”. The message is clear.

Somewhat ironically, it’s doubtful Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart even care. Cannes, after all, is just around the corner. There are, as yet, no indications that MTV intends to make the identities of its “voting academy” public, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know who they are?

Purely for transparency’s sake – if nothing else.

Bridesmaids scored eight nominations at this years MTV Movie Awards

The full list of nominees is here. The MTV Movie Awards ceremony will take place on June 3 at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, Los Angeles and broadcasts live.