Bacon makes a commanding lead as a former FBI agent tracking down his greatest adversary in a sure-footed psychological thriller.
The versatile Bell goes from simple farmer to history-changing spy, and nicely pulls off the period wear in AMC’s Revolutionary War series.
It’s no surprise that Bichir is a commanding presence as Detective Marco Ruiz; it’s his warmth and heart that elevates FX’s procedural.
As the veddy proper Lord Grantham, Bonneville is the commanding head of a flawless ensemble that always keeps a stiff upper lip.
After four seasons on the Prohibition Era-show, Buscemi has only gotten better as his Nucky Thompson grows more powerful.
He’s won three Emmys for his role as teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White and didn’t missed a step in a final season that didn’t disappoint.
In its second season, “Hannibal” has quietly become a watercooler program, held together by Dancy’s portrayal of the rapidly unraveling Will Graham.
Last year’s surprise winner could repeat for his performance as newsman Will McAvoy; he has the benefit of Aaron Sorkin-penned speeches on his side.
It’s not easy to pull off a legendary Viking who may be descended from Odin himself, but Fimmel is a standout in this History channel hit.
Though the final season was heavily criticized, no one faulted Hall’s wonderful work as one of entertainment’s most memorable serial killers.
With six nominations for his iconic, star-making turn as Don Draper so far, Hamm has never won — could this finally be his year?
Though co-star Matthew McConaughey got more press, Harrelson is fantastic as a great cop struggling to be a good husband and father.
“Bates Motel” As the boy who will become the psycho, Highmore walks a fine balancing act creating a tortured soul that never veers into camp.
“Sons of Anarchy”
Hunnam did some of his best work of the series on season 6, culminating in a heartbreaking finale where Jax found his beloved Tara dead.
After a slow start where his Brody wasn’t seen much, Lewis came back with a vengeance for the season’s final episodes — and a shocking death that devastated viewers.
“The Walking Dead”
While it can be tough for genre shows to get Emmy love, “The Walking Dead” is a critical and commercial success, grounded by Lincoln’s confident lead performance.
This year’s Oscar winner forayed into TV in a big way, delivering a breathtaking turn as a haunted cop who mixes crime solving with philosophy.
Miller is a welcome addition to a long list of great thesps playing Sherlock Holmes — his is brilliant, sexy and often hilarious.
Aside from a season 2 Emmy nod, Olyphant has been woefully underappreciated for bringing stalwart U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens off the pages of Elmore Leonard’s novels.
As a KGB operative posing as part of an American couple, Rhys is equal parts complex and heartbreaking, using various alter egos while always trying to hide his true feelings.
Surely Emmy voters have a soft spot for Schreiber’s antihero, a Hollywood “fixer” to the rich and famous who can make anyone’s problems disappear.
“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.
“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 Frances Underwood, now the president of the United States.
The three-time Emmy winner is a delight as a brilliant and deadly former CIA agent on the biggest hit of the new season.