The Emmys are about more than winners and losers. It’s a night where the biggest TV stars gather together and just about anything can happen.
And “anything goes” was certainly the theme for this year! From red carpet transformations to epic onstage burns, there was everything from comedy to romance. Thanks to some moving speeches, we also had more drama onstage than onscreen.
Here are the top 10 moments that made the 2019 Emmy Awards an utterly unforgettable night.
Gwendoline Christie: From Knight to Princess
Gwendoline Christie rose to international fame playing powerful women like Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and Captain Phasma in Star Wars. However, to bring these women to life, her beauty was often hidden behind a thick coat of armor.
That’s why her red carpet appearance was so stunning. It seems everyone’s favorite knight was letting her inner princess out to play. And that same appearance signaled an evening that would be full of surprises related to Game of Thrones.
Gwyneth of Thrones
Many assumed that Game of Thrones would sweep the awards. And Seth Meyer made a big deal out of introducing the cast on stage. However, one person was not thrilled: Gwyneth Paltrow.
Going by Paltrow’s expressions, it looked as if she had never so much as heard of this show. And the blank look on her face provided a ton of unintentional comedy to fans watching along from home.
gwyneth definitely has no idea what Game of Thrones is pic.twitter.com/uQzexoWiCM
— Jackson McHenry (@McHenryJD) September 23, 2019
Bating the Bateman
Sometimes, meme history happens at the weirdest times. That’s what Jason Bateman found out that night when Jimmy Kimmel made a joke about pretending to be interested in Bateman’s vacation stories. The camera cut to Bateman looking genuinely sad and crestfallen at the jab.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 23, 2019
— Dixon Gaines (@DixonGaines) September 23, 2019
Pretty soon, though, he had something to put a smile on his face. Jason Bateman walked away with the award for “Directing for a Drama Series” thanks to his work on the sleeper hit Ozark!
Patricia Arquette Stands Up for Trans Rights
The true essence of a good awards speech is about standing up for more than yourself. A great speech involves standing up for marginalized groups in order to bring the world together.
When Patricia Arquette won the award for “Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie” for her performance in The Act, she stunned us all with a speech about the death of her trans sister Alexis Arquette and the persecution of trans folk everywhere. All in all, it was a powerful meditation on grief, acceptance, respect, and love.
Jharrel Jerome Brings the House Down
Not all of the amazing Emmy moments were about comedy, though. When Jharrel Jerome won the award for “Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie” for When They See Us, he gave a stirring speech. During this time, he began choking up when he mentioned how much he loved his mother.
After that, he gave a shoutout to the Central Park Five members that this movie was all about. They were in the audience, and the room went wild when Jerome honored them from the stage.
Michelle Williams: Feminist Icon
Michelle Williams won the award for “Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.” While many thought she was a shoe-in for the award, few of us were prepared for her truly show-stopping speech.
She discussed feminism and equity in the workplace and noted that the real key to her success was that “my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed to do on order to do my job.” She went on to advocate for equal pay for women and the necessity to elevate female voices in media. That roar you heard was the sound of the world applauding!
Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Pervy, Angry, and Very Successful
The hits started coming early for Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And they certainly didn’t stop coming until the end of the night. First, she won the award for “Writing for a Comedy Series” for her work on the Amazon show Fleabag. In her hilarious speech, she took pride that a “dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.”
Later in the night, she would win “Lead Actress in a Comedy Series,” and her show Fleabag actually walked away with the award for “Outstanding Comedy Series.” She didn’t just make it to the Emmys: she slayed, queen.
Missing the Note
Music plays a major role in the Emmys. Unfortunately, someone dropped the ball this year, and it led to more unintentional hilarity.
For example, Chernobyl took home a number of awards, including “Outstanding Limited Series.” However, the dark show about nuclear trauma and fallout was introduced by… the song “Feeling Good”? Overall, it was a weird night for music. Unless you love cringe comedy, in which case it was just right!
Billy Porter Gets Real
Billy Porter took home the award for “Lead Actor in a Drama Series” for the show Pose, making him the first openly gay actor to win the category. And in his acceptance speech, he showed us the same power and poise that he brings to his character onscreen!
Porter began by quoting James Baldwin: “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.” He went on to remind the audience that “we all have the right” to feel a sense of belonging and that actors must remember their privilege of changing “the hearts and minds of the people on this planet.”
‘Game of Thrones’ Limps Across the Finishing Line
Game of Thrones ultimately won the award for “Outstanding Drama Series.” But this anticipated victory was a bit hollow.
Thrones had actually lost in almost every category it was nominated for. The only other exception was that Peter Dinklage won for “Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.” The consensus is that the extremely lackluster final season hurt its chances to take home any more than these two awards (out of 16 nominations).