WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: As Jane’s teen angst grew along with her powers, Brown gave a performance that wasn’t just a perfect 10, it was — sorry — a perfect Eleven. Whether she was channeling the heroine’s frustration at being kept apart from sweetheart Mike, reeling from the revelation that father figure Hopper had lied about her mom or unleashing her rage on the Mind Flayer, the actress made such a strong case for her second nomination that she could only be denied it in the Upside Down.
VANESSA KIRBY, THE CROWN
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: She may not wear the crown, but Kirby stole the show in Season 2 of Netflix’s Queen Elizabeth II drama, as the rebellious Princess Margaret thumbed her nose at tradition — and, of course, got handed yet another dose of heartache. Kirby is deliciously sarcastic whenever Margaret rolls her eyes at the old guard or tosses off another cutting insult, but she can be achingly vulnerable as well, as we saw in a pair of powerhouse episodes that exposed Margaret’s fragile heart… and Kirby’s prodigious talents.
PAULA MALCOMSON, RAY DONOVAN
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: We’re still peeved at Ray Donovan for killing off its leading lady, but we will say this about Abby’s season-long cancer arc: It allowed Malcomson to go out on a high note. As the disease began taking its toll on her alter ego’s body, the actress went all in, capturing with heartbreaking authenticity Abby’s pain, denial, anger and, ultimately, acceptance.
JANET MCTEER, MARVEL’S JESSICA JONES
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: From the moment Alisa Jones entered that dive bar in Season 2 of the Netflix drama, McTeer captivated us with her nuanced portrayal of Jessica’s superpowered (and very much alive!) mother. And we’re not just giving McTeer kudos for nailing Alisa’s rage-filled outbursts, as gripping as those scenes were. She also turned in a haunting, nomination-worthy performance during Alisa’s quieter moments, as Jessica’s mom grappled with the difficult truth that she could never live a truly normal life.
THANDIE NEWTON, WESTWORLD
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Dolores may be the face of Westworld, but in Season 2, Maeve is its heart. That’s thanks to Thandie Newton’s endlessly watchable turn as the newly self-aware android on a search for the daughter she feels is her own. If you ever need to watch a heart break in real time, check out her face when Maeve finally tracks down her child… only to hear the girl call another host “Mama.” The worse things get for Maeve, the more Newton delivers.
SUSAN KELECHI WATSON, THIS IS US
WHY SHE DESERVES A NOD: Half of the reason Randall and Beth are so believable (and #goals) as a couple comes from Watson’s skill in playing the Pearson mom: She’s just so damn relatable! Season 2 tested this premise, giving Watson some meaty material surrounding Deja’s foster-care situation. We were particularly impressed by the way Watson had Beth staunchly hold her own during the Vegas fight (her line reading of “husband” while addressing Randall still gives us chills), only to fall apart over her Deja doubts a scene or two later.