You know an actor's doing something right — and has lucked into a helluva fascinating character — when he manages to upstage the world's most famous cannibalistic shrink.
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Kelsey Grammer, Boss
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Charlie Hunnam, Sons of Anarchy
Peter Krause, Parenthood (Lead Actor)
Though Monica Potter (understandably) is getting the most attention for this season's cancer storyline, her on-screen better half gave equally impressive performances. Heck, we'd give him an Emmy for Adam and son Max's birds-and-bees talk alone!
Damian Lewis, Homeland (Lead Actor)
The Showtime hit's second season may have wobbled, but its leading man — last year’s victor — remained a force to be reckoned with. (In particular, he wowed us in the interrogation-themed “Q&A” episode.)
Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead (Lead Actor)
Though Emmy has long had a hate-on for supernatural series (see also: Buffy the Vampire Slayer), voters would have to be colder than zombies not to have shed a tear during newly widowed Rick's heartbreaking meltdown.
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jonny Lee Miller, Elementary
Timothy Olyphant, Justified
Matthew Rhys, The Americans (Lead Actor)
In a word, a revelation. Somehow, though all the wigs, the aliases and the period trappings, this Brothers & Sisters alum managed to give what, for our money, was the performance of the year.
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Lead Actor)
Not only has Emmy always adored movie stars on the small screen (right, Kiefer Sutherland, James Spader, Glenn Close?), this particular movie star sunk his teeth into his vengeful politico role like a terrier seated in front of a steak.