I can’t say I’m a regular viewer of award shows, but I do appreciate it when exceptionally well written films and television shows are recognized for their writing and acting.
This year, the Emmys have nominated many critically acclaimed actors and actresses for their impeccable performances. Yes, you have multiple nominees for Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but you also have some fresh faces from shows like Game of Thrones and True Detective.
Looking at the list of current nominees for acting, I felt compelled to talk about some of my favorite performances of the year.
When viewing the nominees for Best Actor in a Drama Series, it’s hard not to pretend that the strongest contenders by a mile are Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad and the two leads for True Detective, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Cranston’s final bow as Walter White was a glorious one. As Breaking Bad fanatics know, Walter’s world came crashing down on him and everyone unlucky enough to be around him in Season 5. The episode “Felina” may have provided audiences their last hour in Walter’s world, but the episode “Ozymandias” was the highpoint of the season, and showcased the overwhelming talent that Cranston possesses as an actor.
True Detective was probably one of the biggest surprises of the year. Appearing to be just another police procedural, True Detective was actually a philosophical thriller that showcased two actors at the top of their game. McConaughey’s Rust Cohle and Harrelson’s Martin Hart couldn’t have been more different as characters, but their conflicting personalities made them so fascinating to watch as they awkwardly attempted to work together.
For leading ladies, Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood in House of Cards and Lizzy Caplan’s Dr. Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex gave viewers a chance to see two extremely confident women exercise their power and authority in their separate domains.
In the case of Wright’s Claire, audiences saw her devotion to both herself and her husband’s seemingly impossible goals. Claire’s willingness to destroy everything in her way made her more than a perfect match for Spacey’s relentless Frank Underwood. Threatening to let a woman’s unborn child wither and die, while manipulating the President of the United States for kicks showed how being bad could be so good.
Caplan’s Virginia is a character that so few programs on television typically show. She’s a sexually confident woman living in a time where the sexes couldn’t have been more unequal. While Masters of Sex is certainly a slow burn of a show, Caplan’s performance makes it worth it in the long run.
Nominations for supporting actors and actresses yielded a number of pleasing results too.
It was no surprise that Peter Dinklage received his second nomination for playing the honorable and wonderfully sarcastic Tyrion Lannister. As Game of Thrones fans are already aware, Tyrion had quite the eventful season this year. It felt as if everything kept getting worse for Tyrion as the episodes progressed. Still, all these horrible things did provide a lot of material for Dinaklage to work with. Who didn’t love Tyrion’s “confession” at his trial?
Not only did Dinklage receive a well-deserved nod for his performance on Game of Thrones, but his co-star Lena Headey received a nomination as well.
Lena Headey received her first nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for playing the psychotic “Mother of Madness,” Cersei Lannister. Much like Dinklage, Headey was given ample room to show off her acting chops in Season 4 of Game of Thrones. Her strongest scenes featured her alongside Charles Dance’s Tywin Lannister. Their last conversation with each other at the end of the season showed just how far Cersi would go to maintain her power and independence. It also showcased Headey’s ability to go toe-to-toe with a classically trained actor like Dance.
Other well deserved nominations included Taylor Schilling for Orange is the New Black, Diana Rigg for Game of Thrones, Andre Braugher for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Allison Tolman for Fargo.
Probably the most notable omissions this year are Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black and Keri Russell for The Americans. Neither actress was nominated last year for Best Actress in Drama Series. While the nominee list is certainly crowded, a nod to these shows and the two lead actresses would have certainly been appreciated.
What about you reader? Any performances that stood out to you? Let us know in the comments below.