Actors shine in revelatory seasons

Will Emmy cast its shadow on these thesps?

A mix of newcomers and established thesps who’ve toiled on their show for years, these men have had outstanding seasons and are in the kudos conversation.

GALLERY: Actors in Contention

Matthew Bomer
“White Collar”
Another USA premiere. Another hit. Thanks in no small part to Bomer, who came to the skein with leading-man charm and now has proven he has the ability — like USA’s Jeffrey Donovan — to open a show despite not having worldwide recognition beforehand.

Kyle Chandler
“Friday Night Lights”
New school? No problem for Coach Taylor, who brought his winning philosophies to East Dillon, where he continued to mold young men. It’s already the fourth season for “FNL” — is it too much for voters to acknowledge the most underrated thesp never to receive a lead actor nom?

Michael Cudlitz & Ben McKenzie
The beat cops remain the soul of “Southland,” the terrific L.A. drama that has a renewed life after TNT stepped up and gave it a renewal. Viewers will now get to see a darker side of these partners who, understandably, may have a difficult time not taking what they see on the streets and bringing it into their personal lives.

Jeffrey Donovan
“Burn Notice”
No one needs to tell USA that stellar ratings don’t necessarily translate to Emmys, but if anyone from the net is going to receive some kudos love, why not the well-liked Donovan, who has made the Miami climes just a bit hotter since the show’s 2007 debut?

Thomas Jane
Jane’s Ray Drecker is emblematic of today’s modern man in a woeful ecomomy: Hanging on to a job that doesn’t really offer much intellectual incentives, while trying to find other sources of income. His freelancing may be more lucrative and somewhat romantic, but, really, he’s one of us.

Dean Norris
“Breaking Bad”
While Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul understandably receive much of the show’s acting accolades, Norris ably stood toe-to-toe with his castmates as his character doggedly tried to figure out who is behind Albuquerque’s meth distribution. And his desire to walk away from a hospital bed has been inspirational.

Chris Noth
“The Good Wife”
Noth carried the gravitas of a district attorney admirably, as he battled his demons and political ambitions all season long. His release from jail allowed the actor to show what made the character tick, and it would seem he’s headed back as a public servant more than a stay-at-home dad.

Terry O’Quinn
The final season of “Lost” was about many things, many of them revolving around the Man in Black disguised as Locke, and O’Quinn was brilliant in shifting from a man who reveled in the camaraderie of his island castaways to the dark soul who wanted to kill them.

Nick Offerman
“Parks and Recreation”
The acting profession’s personification of the bacon-wrapped turkey leg, Offerman gives “Parks and Recreation” fans the full-bodied meal they crave. Offerman gloriously brings the thinking man’s Neanderthal to life. His hair might also get heavy consideration from Emmy voters.

Bill Paxton
“Big Love”
As if having three wives, a hardware business and a casino weren’t enough, Bill Henrickson decided he’d run for political office in his spare time. While the storyline felt like a stretch, Paxton did the best he could with the material and kept him running around — from Utah to Mexico — with nary a rest in sight.

Danny Pudi
Pudi turned what might have been a robotic quote machine into one of TV’s most endearing new characters. Pudi’s Abed was the gateway to what amounted to a veritable deconstruction of pop culture of the past 30 years, and his perf was an early clue that “Community” had appeal beyond its initial premise.

Ray Romano
“Men of a Certain Age”
Romano made an impressive turn from his familiar Ray Barone goofiness to single dad Joe Tranelli, a man of a certain age with good friends but an unhealthy gambling addiction. Rarely praised for his acting chops, Romano should be proud of his dramatic accomplishment.

Adam Scott
“Party Down”
Scott has taken his deadpan comedy to “Parks and Recreation,” but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve Emmy consideration as the backbone for this underrated Starz gem. Think “Taxi’s” Alex Reiger for the post-hipster, Hollywood insider generation.

Eric Stonestreet
“Modern Family”
It will be difficult for the TV Academy to single out an actor from the show — co-stars Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell are also terrific — but Stonestreet’s Cameron is as worthy as anyone, and should be thrown into the mix of “Modern” possiblities.

GALLERY: Actors in Contention

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