The Highs and Lows of the 2014 Emmys

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Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (L) present the award for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie during the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) (EMMYS-SHOW)
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (L) present the award for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie during the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) (EMMYS-SHOW)

By Dave Nemetz and Kimberly Potts

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson didn’t win the big awards, but they sure charmed the crowd with their on-stage banter Monday night at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. In fact, many of the night’s best moments came courtesy of non-winners; from the stars who played along with host Seth Meyers's audience Q&A, to the Game of Thrones spoof that helped soothe the disappointment of Peter Dinklage's loss.

[Related: The Complete List of the 2014 Emmy Winners]

And it wouldn't have been an awards show without some blunders along the way; a "John Travolta moment," the odd objectifying treatment of a four-time nominee, and the McConaughey speech we’ll never get to hear. Here's our picks for the highlights, and low points, of 2014's Emmy show.

HIGH: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

Neither member of TV's coolest bromance took home an Emmy, but the evening was still "alright, alright, alright" for this True Detective duo, who teamed up to present the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Harrelson led with a wicked imitation of his co-star and teased him for being "greedy" sucking up all the awards-show love; McConaughey shot back that Harrelson should be "happy for what you have and not envy what I do." They even took a jab at the accusations leveled at the HBO drama: "I'm grateful you had all the plagiarized lines," cracked Harrelson, adding, "Too inside?" Now we're bummed all over again that they're not coming back for Season 2.

LOW: Sofia Vergara on display

Sofia Vergara as a human statue, standing silent on a revolving platform while Television Academy president Bruce Rosenblum explains what the Academy does? Everything was wrong about minimizing Vergara — a four-time Emmy nominee, who deserves better treatment. That said, in the press room after the bit, the star herself shot back at such accusations of sexism: “I think its absolutely the opposite. It means that somebody can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself. I think it’s ridiculous that somebody started this—I know who she was—who has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a little bit.”

HIGH: Sara Bareilles's "In Memoriam" performance and Billy Crystal’s Robin Williams tribute

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles never sounded more lovely than she did singing “Smile” for the annual "In Memoriam" segment, reminding us of great talents who passed away during the last year, including James Garner, Don Pardo, Casey Kasem, Maya Angelou, and Lauren Bacall. And, of course, the one that’s still fresh in all our minds: Robin Williams, who was touchingly honored in a simple, straightforward tribute by his friend Billy Crystal.

"For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in a comedy galaxy," Crystal said. "While some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now, their energy long since cooled, but miraculously, since they float in the heavens so far from us now, their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever. And the glow will be so bright, it will make your eyes glisten, and you'll think to yourself: ‘Robin Williams... what a concept.’”

LOW: Gwen Stefani talk pretty one day

She’s one of the new stars of The Voice, but apparently The Colbert Report is on after No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani’s bedtime. Or she’s been living under a rock. How else to explain why she had no clue how to pronounce Stephen Colbert’s name, instead pulling the Emmy telecast’s version of an Adele Dazeem and pronouncing it "Colborg"? Somewhere, John Travolta is sitting in a La-Z-Boy and laughing.

HIGH: Billy Eichner's on-the-street interviews

If you didn't know Billy Eichner before Emmy night, surely you've fallen in love with him by now. The host of Fuse's Billy on the Street brought his hyper-caffeinated game show antics to the Emmys, dragging Seth Meyers around the streets of Manhattan to quiz strangers on their TV knowledge. (Sample question: "True or false: Maggie Smith doesn't give a s--t about these awards.") He also took donations for the Big Bang Theory cast — and even got a dollar for them.

[Photos: Emmy Red Carpet Arrivals]

HIGH: Jimmy Kimmel's mini monologue

Kimmel didn't host the Emmys this year, but he upstaged Seth Meyers when he presented the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series prize. He launched into a roast of Matthew McConaughey, mocking the nominee for his long-winded awards speeches: "Alright, alright, alright already." He then pointed out the difference between McConaughey's "movie face" and Ricky Gervais' "television face." We're a fan of any joke that leads to this expression:

LOW: "Weird Al's" theme song montage

We love "Weird Al" Yankovic. But his attempt to spoof TV theme songs fell mostly flat. He added wacky lyrics to the instrumental themes of Mad Men, Scandal, and Game of Thrones, and while there were a few chuckles (Homeland: "Standing in a maze/Making out with terrorists…"), the segment went on way too long. However, we did get to see Andy Samberg dressed as King Joffrey, which paid off in the very next segment…

HIGH: Andy Samberg as King Joffrey

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star donned a blond wig and crown to re-enact the wedding scene that did in the psycho-twerp king last season. Samberg-as-Joffrey first popped up during "Weird Al’s" GoT theme song performance, but then continued the act, interrupting the next presenter, GoT star Lena Headey, shouting, “Mother, why don’t you love me like you love Uncle Jaime?”

Andy Samberg, left, and Lena Headey present the award for outstanding miniseries on stage at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Andy Samberg, left, and Lena Headey present the award for outstanding miniseries on stage at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

HIGH: The Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Bryan Cranston kiss

Adrien Brody, eat your heart out. We now have a new all-time best awards-show kiss: When Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third Emmy for Veep, she got positively mouth-mauled by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston. (A callback to an earlier joke when Julia pretended not to remember that Cranston appeared with her on Seinfeld as her boyfriend, and that the two had kissed onscreen.) As funny as it was, we sensed a little chemistry there as well; can we get these two into a romantic comedy, stat?

HIGH: The audience Q&A

Host Seth Meyers made use of the in-house audience for a Q&A routine; Melissa McCarthy wondered whether her car would be towed and Fred Armisen requested that the Emmys become an annual thing. The segment's highlight was Andre Braugher looking for the key to the restroom, which turned out to be on a keychain attached to an Emmy statue.

[Related: Seth Meyers Slams Emmys Scheduling, NBC in His Monologue]

LOW: Stephen Colbert's imaginary friend

Colbert is a comedy genius (and now the winner of two straight Emmys), but even he's not immune to striking out. When he presented the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, Colbert launched into a bizarre tribute to his imaginary friend, Roscoe. The audience laughed politely while Colbert went on and on about his "best… nay, my only friend." Never before have we wanted to hear who won Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie so badly.

LOW: The McConaughey speech that could have been

Let us make this clear: No one but Bryan Cranston should have walked away with that Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Still, there’s just a smidge of regret that we’ll never get to hear the rambling but still deliciously weird acceptance speech that would have come to fruition had Matthew McConaughey won for True Detective. As it is, we’ll have to settle for hitting rewind on Detective co-star Woody Harrelson quoting MM during their earlier presenting: “Alright, alright, alright. Come on back to the Airstream after. I make the best margaritas this side of the R-I-O Grande.”