10. Aisling Loftus, Mr. Selfridge
Aisling Loftus somehow finds herself lost behind Jeremy Piven and the rest of the cast of this British import airing on PBS, but she is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the show and deserves even more acclaim than her co-stars.
9. Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
Series three of Sherlock may have been a down season for the show, but Cumberbatch is still making it look easy to find new ways to add intricacies to his already great performance.
8. Joel McHale, Community
For a long time Community was a show in which Joel McHale gave way to his supporting cast filled with quirkier and funnier characters. However, as the series has gone on McHale has slowly become the standout with his perfect comedic timing and his ability to bring gravitas to any moment so unexpectedly.
7. Justin Theroux, The Leftovers
Damon Lindelof has a thing for guilt-ridden heroes with daddy issues, and Justin Theroux found a way to make that type of character his own in the wake of Matthew Fox as Jack Shephard in Lost with a vulnerable and powerful performance.
6. Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Kevin Spacey has been great in House of Cards to date, but it has still felt like a lesser performance than that of Ian Richardson in the original. Season two was the season in which Spacey was able to make it his own while still capturing the power of the original performance.
5. Allison Tolman, Fargo
The previously unknown Allison Tolman somehow had the courage to take on Frances McDormand’s Oscar winning performance in Fargo. Tolman came out just fine as she showed herself to be an actress of immense talent.
4. Pedro Pascal, Game of Thrones
I was a bit disappointed when I first heard that Pedro Pascal was going to be playing Oberyn Martell after seeing him in a very unimpressive guest spot on Homeland. He definitely proved me wrong as his charm made the character an instant fan favorite all the way to his shocking exit.
3. Martin Freeman, Fargo
2014 was the year of Martin Freeman, and his best performance of the year was his Walter White-esque role as Lester Nygaard. Usually cast as the straight guy in a comedy or dramedy, Freeman got to show his much showier and sinister side.
2. Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
I think the writing of the character had a lot to do with the instantly iconic nature of Rust Cohle, but Matthew McConaughey certainly fit the role well. McConaughey also demonstrated an immense amount of range as he played the character through multiple timelines and had the thematic twist of the entire series hinge on his performance.
1. Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Carrie Coon’s performance in The Leftovers has to be the surprise of the year. Going from a bit player in early episodes to the beating heart of the entire series by the end showed just how much trust Damon Lindelof and company had in her performance. The surprise of it doesn’t take away from how great of a performance Carrie Coon gave as Nora Durst too. It was a charming and vulnerable performance that announced the arrival of an acting talent that deserves attention.