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MTV Movie Awards: Five things to watch for

The MTV Movie Awards depart pretty seriously from most award shows, forsaking prestige and formality -- and, for that matter, voting by an elite body -- in favor of freewheeling fun, fan-driven prizes, 11-pound gilded popcorn trophies and zany honors like best shirtless performance and most WTF moment.

Still, though an unabashedly commercial affair -- its April date was chosen mainly so studios could hype spring and summer movies -- the ceremony offers a temperature read on what will be popular in the months ahead, and can offer some entertaining television to boot.

Here are five story lines to watch for during this year's awards, which MTV will broadcast Sunday evening from the Nokia Theatre.

PHOTOS: Guide to the 2014 MTV Movie Awards

Conan O'Brien's youth appeal: During the reign of Jay Leno and David Letterman, Conan O'Brien was the subversive rebel of late-night TV, the guy younger audiences identified with and gravitated toward. But now that Jimmy Fallon has taken over "The Tonight Show" and Stephen Colbert is poised to replace Letterman on "Late Night," it's clear O'Brien will  have to fight for Millennial attention. The MTV Movie Awards, then, represent a chance for O'Brien to prove his relevance to a youthful demographic. (It's worth noting that at 50, O'Brien is the oldest performer ever to host the show, which tends to favor 20- and 30-something emcees.)

The Shailene Show. Indie and TV actress Shailene Woodley took a Jennifer Lawrence-like step toward megastardom this year by kicking off her own dystopian YA franchise, "Divergent," and has a much-anticipated movie coming up in the romantic drama "The Fault in Our Stars." During the Movie Awards pre-show, Woodley and co-star Ansel Elgort will show off the first completed scene from the John Green adaptation. So far this year, "Divergent" was a solid but not spectacular hit (though studio Summit has enough faith to be planning three sequels). Now the question is whether "Fault" can surpass that success, and lift Woodley along with it.

Guaranteed gold for Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum. At 42, Mark Wahlberg is already an elder statesman in the MTV universe, which therefore makes him eligible for the Generation Award, its equivalent of a lifetime achievement prize. The award will be presented to Wahlberg by the cast of "Entourage," the bro-centric HBO series produced by Wahlberg and partly based on his early days in Hollywood. Conveniently, there's an "Entourage" movie in the works, scheduled for release next summer. Wahlberg also will be there to flog the new "Transformers" movie, subtitled "Age of Extinction" and due out in June.

Speaking of special awards, Channing Tatum will become the first non-Emma to receive MTV's Trailblazer Award, after Emma Stone and Emma Watson. So does Tatum have any movies coming up, say, this summer? Naturally. There's "22 Jump Street" in June and "Jupiter Ascending" in July. 

PHOTOS: MTV Video Music Awards' most memorable moments

Paul Walker remembered. Amid the unpredictable antics, shameless self-promotion and pyrotechnic music performances, the Movie Awards will observe a rare moment of solemnity to memorialize the late "Fast and Furious" actor Paul Walker, who died Thanksgiving weekend in a single-car crash. "Fast" co-star Jordana Brewster will take the stage to speak about Walker and introduce a video tribute. Walker and "Fast 6" co-star Vin Diesel are also nominated for best on-screen duo, an award that will be presented during an unrelated portion of the show.

Superhero showdown. The summer movie season has become synonymous with superhero movies, and this year is no different. The Movie Awards will tease two of them, both opening in May. Ellen Page will appear on stage to introduce a sneak peek at "X-Men: Days of Future Past," an "Avengers"-like attempt to unite the contemporary characters of the original trilogy with their 1962 counterparts from "X-Men: First Class."

Not to be outdone, Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx will appear in a taped segment previewing "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," the second installment of the Marc Webb-directed reboot that has designs on at least two more sequels as well as "Venom" and "Sinister Six" spinoffs. There are no doubt plenty of MTV Movie Awards segments in those movies' futures as well.

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@ogettell

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