WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: If you’ve watched Killing Eve, we don’t even have to answer that question, do we? Comer was an absolute revelation as the gleefully sociopathic assassin Villanelle, murdering lots of people and having fun doing it. Comer’s devilish charms actually made us root for a killer, and her crackling chemistry with co-star Sandra Oh gave BBC America’s crime drama a thrilling bolt of electricity. Leaving Comer out of the Emmy race? Now that would truly be a crime.
CLAIRE DANES, HOMELAND
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Danes is a regular in this category, with five previous nominations for playing former CIA officer Carrie Mathison. But she went deeper in Season 7, as Carrie stepped back from the breakneck action and looked inward, considering whether her terrorist-chasing lifestyle was compatible with raising a young daughter. Carrie had to confront her mental health, too, and Danes brought a heartbreaking fragility to Carrie’s ongoing struggle to get well. So let’s make it a full six-pack of noms, shall we?
VIOLA DAVIS, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Davis is a veteran of this category, having been nominated for every Murder season thus far (and nabbing the win in 2015). But her work in Season 4 was no less astonishing, as Annalise worked tirelessly to help dozens of wrongfully jailed men and women. Davis pulled back layer after layer of Annalise, showing us her character’s strength, fear, desperation and resolve — all while painting a raw and stunning portrait of Annalise’s struggle to remain sober.
MANDY MOORE, THIS IS US
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: By now, we’re used to (though no less awed by) Moore’s easy transitions between playing Rebecca at various points in the Pearson mom’s life. But this season, the actress stands out most for her work surrounding Jack’s death. Rebecca’s denial at the vending machine when the doctor gives her the bad news, her breakdown as she confronts his corpse, her grief-soaked resolve as she pulls herself together to tell the kids — all of it is Moore at her moving, harrowing, statuette-deserving best.
ELISABETH MOSS, THE HANDMAID’S TALE
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: An Emmy winner for her Season 1 performance, Moss connects even more with June’s fragility and resolve in Season 2, thanks to the character’s pregnancy. The handmaid’s months on the lam allowed Moss to play her with a “screw-you” sensibility; even after her capture, June’s renewed dedication to get her and her child out of Gilead lends Moss an incandescence that’s incredibly appealing.
SANDRA OH, KILLING EVE
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Sure, Oh’s role as bored intelligence analyst Eve in BBC America’s crime thriller wasn’t as immediately flashy as her co-star Jodie Comer, who got to chew the scenery (beautifully!) as hired killer Villanelle. But as the season wore on, and Eve’s hunt for Villanelle increasingly became an obsession, Oh transformed Eve from a lamb into a lion, painting a complex portrait of a complicated woman. And her work in the finale, as Eve smashed up Villanelle’s apartment in a rage, was… well, just smashing.
KERI RUSSELL, THE AMERICANS
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Russian spy Elizabeth Jennings was at the end of her rope in the final season of The Americans — and Russell was at her very best, digging deep to find uncharted depths in Elizabeth’s tangled psyche. The fate of Elizabeth’s homeland weighed squarely on her tired shoulders, and Russell wore that exhaustion on her face all season long. Then as the screws tightened and hard decisions had to be made, Russell shined, showing us that Elizabeth isn’t just a soulless killing machine after all.