UNIVERSAL CITY, California — There are five men in the Best Male Performance category tonight (June 3) at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards but, of course, only one of them will go home with a Golden Popcorn.
The competition is fierce in every category, but Best Male Performance? This is a category that has been conquered by no less than the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio in MTV Movie Awards of yore. In a word: Argh!
What kind of contest are we in for tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT? Well, Channing Tatum knows a lot about hand-to-hand combat as proven in movies like ""G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" and "Haywire." Josh Hutcherson? Undoubtedly, any actor who took part in "The Hunger Games" is a pretty formidable foe. Joseph Gordon-Levitt got into some action in "Inception" and plays a cop in "The Dark Knight Rises," while Ryan Gosling's might (and brutal gaze in "Drive") has inspired all of those memes. Then there's Daniel Radcliffe, who we watched grow up from boy wizard to full-grown butt-kicker.
But these guys won't be fighting in a cage or in an alleyway with switchblades. Best Male Performance, like all of the categories at the MTV Movie Awards, was decided upon by the fans in the massive voting session that wrapped up in all but two categories on Saturday and the results of which will be revealed live tonight.
Let's size up the contenders, shall we?
Channing Tatum, "The Vow"
There's nothing like making out with Rachel McAdams in a tear-jerking love story to help blow up a guy's career. Just ask Ryan Gosling! And like one of his Best Male Performance competitors before him, Tatum's hookup with McAdams onscreen resulted in a nomination in another category too: Best Kiss. However, Tatum told MTV News he's convinced he won't win that one. "The 'Twilight' kids always sweep it," he said Thursday. But with no sign of Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner in the Best Male Performance category this year, perhaps this one will be his?
Daniel Radcliffe, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2"
The "Harry Potter" saga concluded onscreen with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," so this will be the young British actor's last chance to win a Golden Popcorn for the role that made him famous. He's been nominated in this specific category a few times already, but he's never won. The legion of Potter fans online have pushed Harry Potter the fictional hero toward the top of the pack in MTV's Twitter-led category, at press time. Might their devotion do the same for Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who has faithfully played him in so many beloved movies, as well? We will see.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "50/50"
No bows and arrows, no killer car, no magic, no Rachel McAdams: Joseph Gordon-Levitt had the weightiest material at his disposal of any of the guys in the Best Male Performance category. Writer Will Reiser based Gordon-Levitt's character on his own experiences as a cancer survivor. The movie balanced drama and comedy like few others with similar subject matter. Gordon-Levitt played an almost otherworldly heavy metal hell raiser in the little seen "Hesher," then turned on the down-to-earth everyman charm in "50/50." He's certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Josh Hutcherson, "The Hunger Games"
Now that the "Harry Potter" series has wrapped and "The Twilight Saga" is drawing to a close, "The Hunger Games" has appeared on the horizon as the mammoth franchise based on a Young Adult book series to take the world by storm. Prior to the arrival of a little movie called "The Avengers," it was the box-office story of the year, sweeping up all of the stars in the ensemble in its wake, including of course, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. Not only is the fanbase for the 19-year-old actor growing, but the sheer firepower of "Hunger Games" fans is sure to have guaranteed many votes.
Ryan Gosling, "Drive"
There's no question that Ryan Gosling boasts the most Internet memes of any of the guys he's up against. All of the movies associated with these male nominees did well with critics, but "Drive" received so much love from film buffs on social media networks, it was something of a phenomenon. Gosling's distant, steely, determined, enigmatic stunt car/getaway driver-for-hire was the subject of many conversations. Will that translate to votes? We will see!
Head over to MovieAwards.MTV.com to cast your vote for Best Hero and Best Movie now! The "Movie Awards Punk'd Pre-Party" starts at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the 21st annual MTV Movie Awards live tonight at 9 p.m. ET!