2015 Emmys: Why Sam Heughan, Jamie Dornan, Grant Gustin, Freddie Highmore deserve Best Actor nods

We’re back today with our second edition of our 2015 Emmy Spotlight series, where we pick and choose among a very crowded field who are the most deserving nominees in a given category. The Emmys will be announced very early in the morning (especially on the West Coast) come July 16, and the ceremony will happen on September 20, which is nice mostly in that the show is back where it really should be in the schedule.

In addition to sharing some of our picks below for Actor in a Drama Series (one of the most consistently competitive categories), we’re going to have you share some of your own picks in the poll below. In one way or another, we all like to be a part of the Emmy process. It’s a fun time of year, mostly in that we get to be nostalgic and look back at some of television’s finest!

Our nominees

Jamie Dornan, “The Fall” (Netflix) – Given that this is an American awards show, he will be recognized for the U.S. broadcaster; regardless of that, Dornan should be recognized period for playing a character so dark and chilling as Paul Spector on this British crime drama. He’s legitimately terrifying, and it to us is such a fall cry from where we first came to know him as Sheriff Graham on “Once Upon a Time.”

Grant Gustin, “The Flash” (The CW) – We do find it interesting sometimes how awards shows, whether it be TV or film, tend to be completely afraid of comic-book adaptations when it comes to awards consideration. Other than the late, great Heath Ledger, great performances are often ignored. We don’t want that to happen here, since Gustin was so extraordinary in creating a relatable, likable hero in Barry Allen / The Flash that it’s now so hard to imagine anyone else in the role. He’s fantastic while saving Central City, but even when the effects are stripped away, his scenes (such as ones with John Wesley Shipp or Tom Cavanagh) are equally award-worthy.

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC) – If Hamm does not at least have a good shot at winning this award for the final season of his landmark hit, it will be one of the Emmys’ great travesties along with Steve Carell never winning the trophy for “The Office.” Don Draper is iconic, and yet Hamm has never won! We imagine that much of that is because Don is such a detached character; he is hard to connect to, but so much of that is intentional and part of Hamm’s nuanced performance. It shouldn’t be held against him.

Sam Heughan, “Outlander” (Starz) – Now, let’s talk about someone who has had to play quite possibly a larger array of emotions than almost any actor on TV. As Jamie Fraser, Heughan had to make some of the most terrible things that can happen to a human being seem believable. He gave us a bold, at times gut-wrenching performance of a man who at one point found love, but another was maimed, beaten and raped by a man desperate to take it all away.

Freddie Highmore, “Bates Motel” (A&E) – In between Dorman and Highmore, we have two of the darkest characters on TV. We’ve always felt like Freddie’s work on the show is under-appreciated, whether it be due to his age or critics simply ignoring his show. This may be his finest season of work yet, as we started to see more of what makes Norman Bates into a monster destined for such great evil.

Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC) – Years ago, who would’ve imagined that the star of “Mr. Show” would be nominated in a drama category? This is a testament both to Odenkirk’s ability and the skill of Vince Gilligan, who creates such interesting characters and who also recognizes the different sensibilities that many comics suggest. Saul a.k.a. Jimmy McGill is such a complex soul, and you need someone like Odenkirk capable of lightness and darkness to showcase that.

Honorable Mentions – Terence Howard (“Empire”), Lee Pace (“Halt and Catch Fire”), Clive Owen (“The Knick”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”).

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