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The Emmys: DuJour’s 12 Most Memorable Moments

Introducing the DuJour Dozen—a list of the funny, endearing and unexpected at the 2012 Emmys

Every awards show comes with certain givens: glammed-up celebs sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the front rows; writers and the less glittery stowed in the back; heroic attempts at comedy, scripted and not; and a run time that is always longer than producers and  viewers want. Still, even the most telepromptered TV ceremony boasts some bits of genuine humor, emotion and style. Here, in no particular order, are a dozen moments that defined this year’s Emmys.

An Opening Wow
The pre-taped curtain raiser at this year’s Emmys started off the show with a bang—literally. Besides Kathy Bates punching a hole through a bathroom stall door, we loved Zooey Deschanel and Christina Hendricks practicing their winning faces and a (peculiar) peek at Lena Dunham’s short new haircut. It also set the tone for a series of funny skits: the Breaking Bad take on The Andy Griffith Show, the cast of Modern Family revealing the evil that lurks in their five-year-old cast member, and a Big Bang-powered nod to the evening’s accountants.

Aaron Paul’s and Giancarlo Esposito’s Sweet Bromance
Breaking Bad costars Aaron Paul and Giancarlo Esposito were both nominated for the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, and when Paul won, his colleague appeared to be genuinely glad—Esposito hollered, hugged and even planted a man-on-man smooch on Paul. In fact, rumors might have been started had Paul not given a shout-out in his speech to his stunning fiancée, activist Lauren Parsekian.

Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage

It Takes Two
When Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet won for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy, we were touched by his profuse thanks to the man who plays his better half on TV. ‘‘I wouldn’t be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson,” he said. “There is no Cam without Mitch.”

A Creator Gets Ignored

When Homeland honchos Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon took the stage to accept their Best Writing award, they had some extra baggage in the form of an unidentified hanger-on. While the Showtime series scribes spoke, a third man looked a little out of place and awkward (although handsomely so). For the record, he was Gideon Raff, the creator of Hatufim, the Israeli series on which Homeland is based—and otherwise known as the whole reason they were there at all. 

Elisabeth Moss Can’t Win
Poor Elisabeth Moss. Once upon a time, the Mad Men actress was one of Hollywood’s bright young things, but her Emmy outfit made us want to dim the lights. The floral-printed, peplumed, ruched, ruffled number did her figure no favors—nor did the blonde hair, which washed out her face.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Jon Hamm Can’t Lose
Going 0 for its 17 nominations, AMC’s Mad Men was the surprise failure of the evening. But with his perfectly tailored, navy Armani tux, star Jon Hamm managed to make losing look magnificent.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Let’s Get Real
The night’s customary montages were customarily mundane and also confusing —except for the Reality TV mash-up. Somehow, the montage for the least-respected Emmy’s category made its shows seem ridiculously compelling. The segment segued from The Situation’s plaintive “We’re losing weight and getting pale. It’s like the end of civilization” to tearful embraces on Dancing with the Stars and The Amazing Race’s mad dashes.  

A Modern Family Star Goes Candid on Camera
The red carpet is not known as a place for honesty, so we were thrilled with Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s candor. When Emmy pre-show host Chris Harrison plugged the launch of the new Official Modern Family Book, Ferguson’s response—“This is insane. Like they need to make more money on the show?”—deserved its own prize.

Lesson: Quit While They’re Still Laughing
When a serious artist like Josh Groban covers of-the-moment boy band like One Direction, it’s funny. But we wish he’d kept his operatic interpretation of “What Makes You Beautiful” from going on a touch too long. Ditto for Tracy Morgan, whose antics—pretending to pass out, yelling at Jimmy Kimmel’s parents—suffered from the same ill-timed fate.

Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage

Best Pre-Show Invention: Mani Cam
Awards-show arrival banter tends toward the banal, so we welcome any attempt to spice up the pre-show interviews. Last night’s Mani Cam—a trick that E! broke out to let stars show off their nails on a miniature red carpet—was especially exciting to watch, mostly because it was so awkward for the celebrities.

Under-the-Radar and Best Dressed

These women might not have had a lot of screen time during the ceremony but Nurse Jackie’s Edie Falco, The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies, and Homeland star Morena Baccarin stole the spotlight with their respective dresses. Falco wowed us with her black-and-white Stella McCartney, while Margulies channeled old Hollywood elegance in brocade Giambattista Valli. Baccarin’s plunging Basil Soda gown in pewter was a refreshing tweak on the metallics that dominated the night.

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

A Bright Spot: Highlighter Dresses
Julianne Moore wasn’t the only woman in a fluorescent, citrus frock—Claire Danes donned strapless Lanvin and Julie Bowen wore lime Monique Lhuillier—but in sleek, long-sleeved Dior Haute Couture, she did it best. So not only did Moore take home a statuette for her Sarah Palin incarnation, she also crushed the red carpet competition last night.

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic