Midway through Sunday's 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, host Neil Patrick Harris announced what most of the audience was likely thinking. "No one in America is winning their office pool," he said to big laughs. "Surprises galore."
There was plenty of truth to that statement, starting with Julia Louis-Dreyfus winning best actress in a comedy for "Veep" and then giving one of the night's most memorable speeches as she was fed lines by her costar and assistant on the show, Tony Hale. And Hale was a surprise winner himself, getting best supporting actor in a comedy and seeming authentically more shocked than anyone.
The supporting actor awards were the most up in the air, with Merritt Wever of "Nurse Jackie" leading the way by winning best supporting actress in a comedy. She proceeded to give perhaps the most brief speech in Emmy history, merely saying, "Thank you, thanks so much, thank you so much. Um, I gotta go, bye." After a commercial break, Neil Patrick Harris called it the "best speech ever."
Both supporting roles for a drama were unpredictable, as well, with Bobby Cannavale winning for "Boardwalk Empire" and Anna Gunn for "Breaking Bad."
Perhaps the biggest individual headscratcher was the statue that went to Jeff Daniels, from the oft-maligned HBO series "The Newsroom," who won best actor in a drama. The eyebrow-raiser might have been in who he had to beat for the crown. Daniels boxed out perennial favorites like Jon Hamm (coming off a particularly Don Draper-heavy season of "Mad Men"), Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad," and last year's breakthrough recipient, Damian Lewis of "Homeland."
There were the predictable winners, of course. While the show's ensemble cast was snubbed for the individual awards, "Modern Family" topped the comedy category. And "Breaking Bad," competing with the CBS Emmy broadcast Sunday night as it nears its dramatic conclusion on AMC, took home the best drama award. On the acting side, the old reliable Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" snagged his third Emmy for best actor in a comedy series and Claire Danes of "Homeland" repeated as best actress in a drama. After "Homeland" owned last year's Emmys, there was a noticeable changing of the guard at Sunday's show.
But the night's biggest surprise might have been an award that wasn't handed out. "House of Cards," while getting a lot of advanced press for making history as a streaming show nominated for major categories at the Emmys, only won one big award: best director for a drama series, which went to David Fincher. The show lost in the best drama category and its leads, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, were bested for individual awards.
What do you think? Which award was the most surprising to you? Were you happy with the show?
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsMatthew Gilbert is the Globe's TV critic.
Sarah Rodman is a staff TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.