Cruise & Danes top MTV nods

Tom Cruise took home the top male performance honor for his work in “Jerry Maguire,” while Claire Danes copped the female honor for “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet” at the 1997 MTV Movie Awards handed out Saturday night in Santa Monica.

“Scream” was voted the year’s best movie at the alternative ceremony, which crowns winners in a series of mostly unconventional categories chosen by a national poll of MTV’s youthful viewers.

Very Carrey

Meanwhile, for the third year running, Jim Carrey was voted a pair of awards — his fifth and sixth overall — for both best villain and top comedic performance in “The Cable Guy.” He won a pair in 1996 for “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” and two more in ’95 for his work in “Dumb & Dumber.”

The only other previous winner on Saturday was director Jan De Bont, who took home the trophy honoring the year’s top action sequence for the scene in “Twister” in which a truck drives through farm equipment. He was also a victor in ’95 in the same category for “Speed.”

Matthew McConaughey’s work in “A Time to Kill” earned him the breakthrough performance accolade. Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery were judged the best on-screen duo for “The Rock.” And in the best fight category, the scrap between Fairuza Balk and Robin Tunney in “The Craft” was cited as the year’s best.

Clinch of the year

Will Smith and Vivica A. Fox’s passionate smooch in “Independence Day” snared the best kiss statuette, while Bush’s “Machinehead” from the Universal feature “Fear” was singled out as best movie song.

The new filmmaker honor went to Doug Liman for “Swingers.” And the furry Chewbacca walked away with a lifetime achievement award for his work in the “Star Wars” trilogy that was re-released this year.

Mike Myers served as the event’s host, getting into the light spirit of the evening by appearing in skits that satirized disaster movies and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.” The ceremony also featured a trailer attack send-up of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” by Myers, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller, Jay Leno and Vince Vaughn.

The show, which will be telecast Thursday at 9 p.m. on MTV, also featured musical performances from best song winner Bush, performing its latest single, “Cold Contagious”; En Vogue, singing its single “Don’t Let Go”; and Jewel, with a performance of “Foolish Games” from her triple-platinum debut album “Pieces of You.”

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