If you went by last year's box office, "The Dark Knight" was the defining film of 2008. If you judged by the Oscars, "Slumdog Millionaire" was the unforgettable Cinderella story. But if you watched the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night, you would know "Twilight" was the only movie that mattered and that there's a bloodsucker born every minute.
The first "Twilight" film was named the best film of 2008 and the movie also generated honors for best kiss, best fight, best breakthrough actor and just about any other popcorn-bucket trophy they had available.
The votes, by the way, were cast by fans online, and there is no sensation like the kind stirred by 14-year-old girls.
"I don't have any more," bewildered "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson said in a moment of vampire vapor lock early in the show at Gibson Amphitheater. It's understandable; the 23-year-old Brit has become something of a 21st century Rudolph Valentino with his tortured-hunk visage as Edward, the undead hero of "Twilight."
The series of novels, about a romance between a disaffected young girl and a century-old teenage vampire, is a well-established sensation with young America. The most recent installment, "Breaking Dawn," sold 1.3 million copies its first day at bookstores, and the first of four planned films grossed $382 million worldwide after its release in November.
Most award shows have drama wired into who will win, but the peak moment Sunday night was clearly the world premiere of a trailer for "New Moon," the second "Twilight" film.
If "Twilight" was proving its undead vitality, the other high-focus moment of the evening was a breathing music star trying to prove he is alive and well in 2009. Eminem may still be young at 36, but he came into Sunday night as an artist who has been away for years in a marketplace measured by months. The rapper, dressed in black, white and shades of gray, prowled the stage with an unsmiling face, and there has rarely been such a high-stakes moment in this television franchise defined by its unrepentant posture as pure movie promotion.
While "New Moon" may have been its most anticipated moment, the night's real lunar memory came courtesy of the bare-butt and Cupid-winged Sacha Baron Cohen (of "Borat" fame and upcoming "Bruno"-ness) who smashed into audio rigging and then tumbled into the lap of Eminem, who for the first time in his career was the straight man.
The career award for the night was given to Ben Stiller who, no coincidence, has one of the big movies of the moment with the "Night at the Museum" sequel. Some galas struggle with the balance between art and commerce, celebration and promotion, but the MTV Movie Awards have the clarity of a movie trailer.
Before any trophy was awarded to Michael Bay, the "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" director gave the audience this robotically canned bit of hype: "This time not only are the Decepticons back, they're after revenge." He blinked and, job done, left the stage and the building.
Correspondent Chelsea McGuire contributed to this report.