10. Dean Norris, Breaking Bad
There’s usually one supporting actor not named Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad that gets his fair share of attention every season. The final season saw Dean Norris get his most screen time yet as DEA Agent and brother-in-law of Walter White, Hank Schrader. Norris got any interesting role in that he was in many ways the hero of the final season, and Norris played it well with his tenacious demeanor finally being mixed with an overbearing vulnerability.
9. Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas’ interpretation of Liberace was clearly quite good. However, it was more than this that made the performance impressive. Douglas got to showcase a long range of acting abilities, and there was not a better case of this then in his final scene on his deathbed.
8. Rose Leslie, Game of Thrones
Much of the attention for Game of Thrones’ supporting actresses went towards breakout star Emilia Clarke and “The Rains of Castamere” MVP Michelle Fairley, but the best performance among the supporting actresses for season 3 belonged to Rose Leslie as Ygritte. Leslie had to carry an entire storyline almost by herself. Kit Harrington was an improvement from the previous season where he was the clear weak link of the cast, but a lot of that improvement came when he was onscreen with Leslie. Leslie made sure to make Ygritte likeable so when her pivotal moments came in the final episodes of the season they were all the more heartbreaking.
7. Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Tina Fey didn’t have many episodes to work with in 2013, but her performance still ended up being one of the most memorable. Her scene in the strip club with Tracy Morgan will end up as an all-time great comedic scene of closure. It was a nice final touch to one of television’s most memorable characters, Liz Lemon.
6. Danny McBride, Eastbound & Down
Like his character, Danny McBride always seemed like he was operating at an 11 on a scale of 1-10. While it seems like that would be a fun job to do as an actor, it is also incredibly difficult as Kenny Powers comes close many times to crossing the line of likeability. McBride never lets that happen.
5. Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Kevin Spacey’s performance as US Representative Francis Underwood must have been one of the most anticipated television performances in recent history. Spacey made sure that his performance lived up to that with a sense of ferocity to match almost any other performance on television. Luckily, Spacey was able to find time to include a few moments of subtlety too.
4. Keri Russell, The Americans
I think many people have noted what a great job Keri Russell is doing on The Americans. However, what really makes her role interesting and unique is that she is asked to play a character with a lot of masculine qualities, and she just makes it seem completely natural.
3. Corey Stoll, House of Cards
Kevin Spacey may have the showy role on House of Cards, but Corey Stoll makes sure that he is the beating heart of the Netflix series’ first season. Stoll takes complete control of the middle episodes of the first season and makes you really care for an imperfect and tragic figure.
2. Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
In Walter White, Bryan Cranston has not only created what might be the best character to ever grace a television screen, but has also delivered the best performance in television history. Cranston gave Walter a great ending whether it was through his loud and bombastic fall or his quiet redemption.
1. Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Season 2 of Breaking Bad was the season in which Breaking Bad really became the show it is now known to be. Why is that? It was the season that converted Jesse from the troubled sidekick into the heart and soul of the series. It also showcased a surprisingly great performance from Aaron Paul. Now at the end of the series it can be easy to take Paul’s performance for granted. Yet with the final season Paul once again showed that he is an actor that can not only go toe to toe with Bryan Cranston but can even outshine him. Season 5B was Walter White’s season, but Aaron Paul’s performance is what will be sticking with me the most.