Though she's never been nominated, her chances are better this season than ever — not only did Deb untangle her serial-killer brother's web of lies, but she came unraveled herself in the process.
Joelle Carter, Justified (Supporting Actress)
It takes a helluva woman to hold her own alongside Boyd Crowder, but Ava does that — and then some. As her character ventured forth into the dark territory that comes part and parcel with her union, Carter showed us a woman grappling wth the difficult (and sometimes deadly) decisions that need to be made in the name of self preservation.
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Michelle Fairley, Game of Thrones
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad (Supporting Actress)
After receiving her first nod in 2012, she's a shoo-in for another one this year. As Skyler and Walter's relationship grew increasingly adversarial, her portrayer was served her meatiest material to date.
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Megan Hilty, Smash
Regina King, Southland
Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire
Kate Mara, House of Cards
Olivia Munn, The Newsroom
Hayden Panettiere, Nashville (Supporting Actress)
In one of the year's biggest — and most revelatory — surprises, the Heroes alum elevated Juliette from one-note bratdom into the realm of compelling complexity. Don't hate her because she's beautiful — and don't count her out because of it, either.
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Monica Potter, Parenthood (Supporting Actress)
If the Emmys more often made sense, we'd be confident that Kristina's portrayer would get a nomination. Her work in the cancer arc was that sublime. Unfortunately, since the Emmys so often befuddle us — and since, to date, this family drama's only ever received a single nod — we can only be cautiously optimistic, emphasis on the "cautiously."
Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Abigail Spencer, Rectify (Supporting Actress)
Spencer was so breathtakingly vulnerable on The Sundance Channel's heart-crushing new series that we weren't not sure whether we'd rather give her an Emmy or a hug.