By Lanford Beard
April 14, 2013 at 03:15 PM EDT
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Tonight, MTV will broadcast its 21st annual Movie Awards. Truth: Twenty years ago, the golden popcorn for Best Movie went to A Few Good Men (following that: Menace II Society, Pulp Fiction, and Se7en). Safe to say, the show’s tone has changed pretty dramatically from those edgy early days when Dennis Miller hosted and Denzel Washington won Best Male Performance for Malcolm X. (I personally trace the trajectory shift back to the short-lived decision to create a Best Sandwich in a Movie category in 1996.) Yet even as the show’s gotten more mainstream (read: Twilight– and Hunger Games-saturated), it’s never failed to churn out cultural flashpoints that have ranged from steamy to awkward, subversive to surreal, and everything in between. Below, we run down the 10 most memorable moments.

10. Kristen Stewart’s corn pops out of her hands (2009)

We were just getting coming to know KStew’s trademark awkwardness in 2009 when she bobbled, then dropped her Best Female Performance statuette. In hindsight, it was a wonderfully ironic note to begin The Twilight Saga‘s Movie Awards domination. Producers would ultimately create a Global Superstar category in 2010, ostensibly for the sole purpose of giving the Twilighters even more hardware. This year, it’s not a stretch to believe they added this year’s Best Shirtless Performance category just to get in one last potential win for the Twihards. With all the cheating scandals and creepy CGI babies that have assaulted our eyes in the past few years, it’s almost a comfort to know that, though times have changed, KStew really hasn’t.

9. Jim Carrey, you glorious weirdo (1999)

During his “I’m an ac-tor” phase, Carrey took home Best Male Performance for The Truman Show. He chose to use his speech time for this:

8. Lindsay Lohan will dance battle you, and herself, into oblivion (2004)

Still basking in the glow of her Mean Girls success, Lohan was trying to make “fetch” her triple-threat status happen. We weren’t so bored that we changed the channel, but we weren’t all that convinced either. Long story short, LiLo’s impending tabloid spiral (“Rumors” would be released that September) and those white booty shorts certainly weren’t strong steps in the direction of serious-actor-hood.

7. Pecking order (2000)

A full three years before Britney and Madonna “shocked” the world with their VMA smooch, Cruel Intentions stars Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair got girl-on-girl during a winking Best Kiss speech. Considering Cruel Intentions, by that point, was pretty much exactly the type of movie this show existed to praise, it was a perfect moment of subversively trashy wish fulfillment. Also? Buffy can do no wrong.

6. Eminem faces the music Brüno (2009)

Sacha Baron Cohen’s minihosen-wearing alter ego dropped in, literally, to present Best Male Performance — much to the chagrin of Eminem and BMP winner Zac Efron, whose High School Musical 3 thunder was totally stolen.

NEXT: The top five — more Twilight, The Brady Bunch, and the best Best Kiss ever

5. Crooze Control (2000)

Between There’s Something About Mary and Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller made it clear he was on his way to becoming a massive star — the Tom Cruise of comedy, if you will — with this faux behind-the-scenes segment, in which he played overly dedicated Mission: Impossible stuntman Tom Crooze. Tom Cruise himself has participated in many hilarious bits for the (including appearing as Tropic Thunder’s Les Grossman in several 2009 gags), but his Improbable team-up with Stiller remains both of their funniest Movie Awards moment.

4. Brady-sic Instinct (1995)

Less of a moment, more of a “What were you smoking?” series of vignettes, the stars of The Brady Bunch turned up in several video reenactments of that year’s Best Movie nominees. The results were uneven, with a Bodyguard segment falling as flat as Rachel Marron’s chiffonaded scarf, but Florence Henderson’s racy Basic Instinct reenactment was so wrong it was right. We always knew Carol was a, ahem, free spirit.

Brady Bunch – basic instinct from neuromandw on Vimeo.

3. Robsten tease the Twihards (2009-2012)

The Twilight stars kicked off their four-time winning streak in the Best Kiss category. (Sad fact: Despite all that vampy cabin sex, they’re not even nominated this year!) How did the real-life couple repay their dedicated fans? By teasing them year after year, refusing to bring the Edward-and-Bella heat on the MTV stage. The first was somehow simultaneously the hottest and the most awkward (unless you count Robert Pattinson planting one on Taylor Lautner in 2011).

2. “Sex,” Shatner-style

Back in the Movie Awards’ early days, presenters were chosen for reasons other than maximizing facetime for whatever bit of summer shlock they starred in that year. Most notably, the show’s first ceremony featured William Shatner — who’d already proven his bonkers approach toward cultural ephemera with a spoken-word interpretation of “Rocket Man” — to perform that year’s Best Song  contenders. If you only do one thing today, it must be watching the Shat man undulate to a bongo-ed up rendition of Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up.”

1. “Like McAdams loves Gosling!” (2005)

If you don’t find this hot, you probably didn’t cry when the old people died at the end of The Notebook, you heartless jerk.

What other Movie Awards moments have stayed with you, PopWatchers? This year’s host Rebel Wilson has announced she’s reuniting the cast of Pitch Perfect — do you think their musical intro will join the list of all-time greatest moments? Find out for yourself when the MTV Movie Awards broadcast live tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

Read more:

Rebel Wilson talks hosting the MTV Movie Awards, voting for Channing Tatum, and (probably) losing to Jennifer Lawrence

MTV Movie Awards: Who should win Best Shirtless Performance? — POLL

MTV Awards Central

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