He’s won three Emmys for his role as teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White and didn’t miss a step in the show’s gripping final season.
Jon Hamm (Actor)
With six nominations for his iconic, star-making turn as Don Draper so far, Hamm has never won — could this finally be his year?
Matthew McConaughey (Actor)
This year’s Oscar winner made the foray into TV in a big way, delivering a breathtaking turn as a haunted cop who mixes crime solving with philosophy.
Matthew Rhys (Actor)
As a KGB operative posing as part of an American family, Rhys is equal parts complex and heartbreaking, using various alter egos while always trying to hide his true feelings.
Michael Sheen (Actor)
“Masters of Sex”
As the godfather of sex research William Masters, Sheen strikes the perfect balance of serious drama and dark comedy, alternately prissy and lovelorn.
Kevin Spacey (Actor)
“House of Cards”
Rather than fall into a sophomore slump, the second season of the Netflix hit brought even more master manipulating from Spacey’s delicious Francis Underwood, now the president of the United States.
James Spader (Actor)
The three-time Emmy winner is a delight as a brilliant and deadly former government agent on the biggest hit of the new season.
Wild Card: Woody Harrelson (Actor)
Though co-star Matthew McConaughey got more press, Harrelson is fantastic as a great cop struggling to be a good husband and father.
Lizzy Caplan (Actress)
“Masters of Sex”
Known primarily for her comedy work, Caplan proved there’s no limit to her talent, playing a working mother ahead of her time who assists Dr. William Masters.
Claire Danes (Actress)
CIA Agent Carrie Mathison might be the most complex woman on TV; even when we don’t understand her choices (like falling for a terrorist) we care about the outcome. Credit Danes, who has already won two Emmys for the role.
Mariska Hargitay (Actress)
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
Hargitay has only nabbed one Emmy after eight consecutive nominations from 2004 to 2011 for her role as Detective Olivia Benson. Heading into its 16th season, Hargitay, much like her character, is the glue that keeps the police procedural together. Her performance in the season 15 premiere as the tied, tortured and drugged victim of murderer/rapist William Lewis was heartwrenching.
Elisabeth Moss (Actress)
In seven seasons, Peggy Olson has grown before our eyes from naive secretary to powerful boss and Moss has made the journey believable and compelling.
Julianna Margulies (Actress)
“The Good Wife”
Her steely grace as wronged wife Alicia Florrick has already won Margulies an Emmy. This season gave her perhaps her most heartbreaking scene yet, as we saw Alicia’s agony over learning of the death of Will Gardner (Josh Charles).
Kerry Washington (Actress)
The show may be soapy fun, but there is nothing silly about Washington’s wonderful work as DC fixer Olivia Pope.
Robin Wright (Actress)
“House of Cards”
While we knew from the start that her husband was a master manipulator, Claire Underwood proved to be much sneakier — ultimately proving to be just as power-hungry and determined.
Wild Card: Keri Russell (Actress)
As a KGB sleeper agent posing as a happily married woman, Russell is both tough and vulnerable, sometimes in the same moment.