Took a bit longer than expected, but here are my TV acting winners from 2013. I'll be posting my ranked list of my favorite shows in a few days. But the winners here pretty much give away my favorites shows of the past year, don't they?
Best Ensemble: Orange is the New Black
Runner-Up: The Good Wife
Other Nominees: Breaking Bad, Broadchurch, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Parks and Recreation, Veep
Looking at the shows I didn't end up picking, you just realized how many great ensemble shows there are on TV right now. This year I had to go with the largely female and kick-ass ensemble of Orange is the New Black, because it's nearly impossible to pick a favorite character from that show and they all work so well together. And The Good Wife has the best drama ensemble on network TV. No question about that. BTW last year's winner Shameless only fell because of all the new shows.
Best Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Runner-Up: Luke Newberry, In the Flesh
Other Nominees: Hugh Dancy, Matthew Rhys, Kevin Spacey, David Tennant
While the other men nominated here are really quite good, especially Dancy and Rhys who pleasantly shocked me by playing against type, this award belonged to Cranston for absolutely nailing the already iconic role of Walter White in his show's final episodes. We will remember his name. Newberry is a young British actor in the little-seen, but fantastic zombie miniseries In the Flesh. I love to honor younger actors especially in genre shows and he really deserves it for what he was asked to do with the tough role.
Best Actress, Drama: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Runner-Up: Keri Russell, The Americans
Other Nominees: Lizzy Caplan, Julianna Margulies, Elisabeth Moss, Emmy Rossum
Speaking of younger actors in genre shows, Maslany pretty much showed everyone how acting is done by expertly playing multiple clones with differing personalities. She really is the breakthrough TV star of 2013 for me and so happy for all the attention and success she's getting. Of course, there's Russell who, like her co-star, played against type and surpassed even my high expectations. Finally, the four other nominees are too fabulous for words. Margulies and Caplan debatedly gave career-best performances this past year.
Best Actor, Comedy: Matt Smith, Doctor Who
Runner-Up: Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Other Nominees: Jake Johnson, Jim Parsons, Adam Scott, Josh Thomas
This was one of the more difficult categories, because this year I didn't really FULL OUT LOVE any one of these performances. I still really, really liked all of them and definitely love certain episodes, but in general, there wasn't a name that rose to the top. In the end, I picked Smith to pay tribute to his tenure as the Doctor and Samberg as runner-up to stick up for him a bit. Many people seem to love Brooklyn Nine-Nine as I do, but still mixed on Samberg.
Best Actress, Comedy: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Runner-Up: Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black
Other Nominees: Malin Akerman, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sarah Michelle Gellar
This would be the third time I'm picking Poehler in just the five years I've been handing out awards on this blog and while I can totally understand people scratching their heads on my pick this year, I just needed to follow my gut. Her character Leslie went through so many ups and downs this season and Poehler navigated through it all wonderfully. Schilling was the obvious runner-up just for managing to maintain the audience's focus while being surrounded by flashier (better?) performances.
Best Supporting Actor, Drama: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Runner-Up: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Other Nominees: Josh Charles, Jordan Gavaris, Mads Mikkelsen, Corey Stoll
Bad guys with redemptive arcs is a well-worn TV trope certainly, but it doesn't mean it's uneffective with the right actor and part and my top two proves that. Playing the humbled King Slayer, Coster-Waldau showed he's more than just a pretty face full of snark. And while Paul's Jesse had long since dropped his bad guy designation, these final episodes showing him going through hell, so helplessly trapped by his previous bad decisions, have been heartbreaking in the best way.
Best Supporting Actress, Drama: Olivia Colman, Broadchurch
Runner-Up: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Other Nominees: Christine Baranski, Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Annet Mahendru
It's actually pretty funny that Colman and Gunn are my top two picks since Gunn is actually going to be playing Colman's character in the American version of Broadchurch so you might just see Gunn here next year if she affectively delivers the same way Colman did. Of course, Gunn herself was amazing to watch this year with her character trying her best to survive amidst the chaos. The other nominees are just as amazing and wonderful, especially Mahendru who I knew nothing about before this show.
Best Supporting Actor, Comedy: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Runner-Up: Albert Tsai, Trophy Wife
Other Nominees: Adam Driver, Nick Offerman, Jim Rash, James Wolk
I was really sad when Last Resort was cancelled last year mostly because Braugher would be off my TV, but thankfully he came back as a gay NYC captain with a penchant for the rules in Brooklyn Nine-Nine in a role that was so unexpected AND perfect at the same time. His chemistry with Samberg elevates the latter and is a key highlight for the show. Tsai in the meantime is ridiculously hilarious and watchable and not even just for his young age. Just an aside... James Wolk is super pretty. More on that below.
Best Supporting Actress, Comedy: Danielle Brooks, Orange is the New Black
Runner-Up: Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
Other Nominees: Stephanie Beatriz, Mayim Bialik, Jenna Fischer, Jane Krakowski
So I said above that it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite character in Orange is the New Black, but my top two picks here would definitely be near the top. All of the characters in that show are bigger than life, but there's something about Brooks and Mulgrew's portrayals just stick with you. Plus one of them is Captain Janeway! Finally, just a tip of the hat to Fischer and Krakowski whose shows ended this year. Wished these two superbly talented ladies were awarded more.
Best Limited Role, Actor: James Wolk, Mad Men
Runner-Up: Eddie Izzard, Hannibal
Other Nominees: Arthur Darvill, Nathan Lane, Andrew Rannells, Mark Sheppard
Wolk, who is unnaturally handsome, was the epitome of a scene stealer in this past season of Mad Men. Seemed like everyone was analyzing every word his character Bob Benson said and every outfit he wore. When we finally found out what he was up to, it was all anyone could talk about. Then there's Izzard who managed to rise to the top of sick serial killers in a show full of sick serial killers. That's a talent right there.
Best Limited Role, Actress: Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Runner-Up: Natalie Dormer, Elementary/Game of Thrones
Other Nominees: Uzo Aduba, Cristin Milioti, Carrie Preston, Alison Wright
Finally, this is the one category where I wished I could award a 6-way tie. I'm serious. Aduba plays probably my favorite character in her show (I really love its cast if you couldn't tell) while Milioti has been such a breath of fresh air in every conceivable way. Preston is ALWAYS good be it playing the best goddamn lawyer in The Good Wife or the sassiest waitress in True Blood while Wright is such a revelation in a role that just breaks your heart. The latter you could also say for Janney who was the best part of Masters of Sex. You literally felt all of the emotions she felt and my God were there a lot of emotions. Dormer in the meantime proved in her two roles as Margaery Tyrell and Moriarty that she's pretty damn kick-ass.
As I said up top, my ranked list of TV shows will be posted in a few days. Click here to refresh your memory on my picks for Best Drama, Best Comedy, and Best New Show.