Saturday Night Live may have made sport of her acting choices, but there was nothing funny about her work this season. As Carrie discovered Brody's duplicity (then gave in to her feelings for him, anyway!), last year's Emmy victor kept her basket-case character breathtakingly relatable.
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel (Lead Actress)
Norman's the crazy one on A&E's Psycho prequel, but we're mad about the actress who plays his Mommie Dearest. She didn't just go from defiant to defeated, from deceitful to deluded over the course of a season, she did it over the course of a single episode. Repeatedly!
Lucy Liu, Elementary
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (Lead Actress)
As Alicia addressed the future of not only her personal life but also her professional one, her portrayer reminded us why she took home the Emmy in 2011. Even the buzz surrounding the newbs won't be enough to keep her from offering stiff competition.
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (Lead Actress)
Though the BBC America series' lead probably deserves an Emmy for quantity — she plays seven different characters, after all! — it's actually the quality of her work that makes her such a contender. Stunningly, she makes each of her half-dozen roles unique.
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy
Emmy Rossum, Shameless (Lead Actress)
Apparently, it's award show voters that are really shameless. How else can you explain the fact that the closest this gem of an actress has come to an Emmy is her own name?
Keri Russell, The Americans (Lead Actress)
In lesser hands, Elizabeth could have come off as a one-note ice queen. But, thanks to the erstwhile Felicity, she's as complex as she is dangerous.