Then there was Christopher Walken. A dancing Christopher Walken.
Thanks to the Deer Hunter actor's unlikely softshoe, Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video shuffled away with a field-best six honors Thursday, including Breakthrough Video and Best Director honors for quirky auteur Spike Jonze.
But when it came to Video of the Year honors, Walken couldn?t keep up with the ladies of Moulin Rouge. Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink scored for their frilly remake of "Lady Marmalade." The track also won Best Video from a Film.
Fatboy Slim walked in as the toe-tapping favorite, scoring nine nominations for the clip, which featured Walken bounding through an empty hotel lobby. But most of Slim?s honors came in technical categories, such as Best Editing and Art Direction.
"It came together amazingly," Jonze said about the video, filmed over two nights at a Marriott hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Of Walken, Jonze added, "He?s the best dancer. He was born a dancer. He has the rhythm."
Yet, amazingly, the clip also ended up losing for Best Dance Video, which instead went to 'N Sync for "Pop."
Even the 'N Syncers were surprised. "I think Fatboy Slim was robbed," Justin Timberlake told the crowd at New York?s Metropolitan Opera House.
Overall, the popsters didn?t do too shabby themselves, taking home four awards including Best Group Video, Best Pop Video and the Viewer?s Choice prize. Timberlake also reserved some special lovin? for his main squeeze, pointing to Britney Spears and adding, "I love you."
Otherwise, anyone hoping to score a Moon Man trophy would?ve been smart to stick close to Gwen Stefani. The No Doubt singer was a lucky charm for both Moby and Eve, who took home Best Male and Female honors, respectively, for their duets with Stefani, "South Side" and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind."
Best New Artist honors went to breakout R&B star Alicia Keys, the soulful songstress signed to Clive Davis's J Records.
"I?m trying to be cool. I don?t even know how to stand at the podium," Keys said, accepting the award for her hit, "Fallin'." "Thank you to everybody for your support. It?s unbelievable."
Beyond the trophy handouts, much of the night was spent paying tribute to Aaliyah, the rising star who died August 25 in a plane crash in the Bahamas.
MTV?s tribute was simple and heartfelt. Janet Jackson joined Missy Elliott, Ginuwine and producer Timbaland in recounting their experiences with the singer-actress. "In this time of love, I draw upon her example of faith that we will be together again," Jackson said.
Aaliyah's brother, Rashad Haughton, also made the family?s first public statement since her death. "On behalf of my family I want to thank her friends and adoring fans," he said, adding "we must keep in our hearts those we lost with her."
In another nod to music heroes, U2 gave its Video Vanguard award to the surviving members of seminal punk group the Ramones, and helped pay tribute to Joey Ramone, who died earlier this year.
Meanwhile, anyone expecting host Jamie Foxx to be gentle after last year?s Wayans bloodbath were sorely mistaken. The comedian tossed out some flat jokes at the expense of everyone from Eminem and Michael Jackson to recently rehabbed Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean, whom he renamed "Long Island Ice-T."
Moments later, the Boys walked out and McLean shrugged it off. He then thanked fans and MTV for the support and proudly declared, "64 days sober and I?m proud of myself."
On the performance side, Jennifer Lopez turned her hits "Love Don't Cost a Thing" and "I'm Real" into a grinding salsa/hip-hop medley with the help of Ja Rule. Keys produced one of the most stirring performances of the night, drawing a standing "O" for her performance of "Fallin'."
And that was promptly rivaled by 'N Sync, who strutted to their hit "Pop" and were joined by--yes, you were waiting for this--a surprise appearance by the King of Pop. Michael Jackson sent the crowd to its feet as the 'N Syncers circled him and he broke out his trademark moves.
Britney Spears, meanwhile, broke out a zoo of tigers and snakes to debut her new single, "I'm a Slave 4 U." Much to PETA's chagrin, the caged animals watched as Spears gyrated in yet another skimpy outfit.
But the one animal that refused to be tamed was Late Night with Conan O'Brien's trash-talking dog puppet, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. The pooping mutt spoke on behalf of dogs everywhere by going into the crowd and asking Jennifer Lopez, "Please, let me sniff your butt."
"She doesn?t understand," he added. "For a dog, that?s like climbing Mount Everest."
Here's a complete list of the night's winners:
VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink, "Lady Marmalade" MALE VIDEO: Moby (w/Gwen Stefani), "South Side" FEMALE VIDEO: Eve (w/Gwen Stefani), "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" GROUP VIDEO: 'N Sync, "Pop" NEW ARTIST: Alicia Keys, "Fallin'" POP VIDEO: 'N Sync, "Pop" HIP-HOP VIDEO: Outkast, "Ms. Jackson" DANCE VIDEO: 'N Sync, "Pop" R&B VIDEO: Destiny's Child, "Survivor" RAP VIDEO: Nelly, "Ride Wit Me" ROCK VIDEO: Limp Bizkit, "Rollin'" VIEWERS' CHOICE: 'N Sync, "Pop" BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" VIDEO FROM A FILM: Christina Aguilera, Lil? Kim, Mya and Pink, "Lady Marmalade" DIRECTION: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" CHOREOGRAPHY: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" SPECIAL EFFECTS: Robbie Williams, "Rock DJ" ART DIRECTION: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" EDITING: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" CINEMATOGRAPHY: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" VIDEO VANGUARD: U2 MTV2 AWARD WINNER: Mudvayne, "Dig"