We will go ahead and admit to having a near-impossible time trying to come up with five Actor in a Drama Series contenders for the Golden Globes this year to go along with five honorable mentions. 2015 was a really good year for leading men; we could name another ten or so people off the top of our head who we really wanted to include but just didn’t have room. It’s a testament to the amount of great TV being made, and the many interesting roles being written for super-talented people.
If you haven’t seen some of our other pieces in this series yet, we’re profiling a category a day of deserving contenders prior to the actual nominations being announced on December 10. We’ve included polls at the bottom of all of these articles, and we’re going to announce the reader picks on December 9 at noon Pacific time.
Now, let’s get to our dream ballot for the category:
Hugh Dancy, “Hannibal” (NBC) – Just go back and watch the final few minutes of “Digestivo.” It may be one of the strongest overall scenes that we’ve had a chance to see all year in terms of being powerful in its quiet moments, and with the pain and longing that Dancy was injecting into it. Will Graham sees himself in Hannibal. Even if he attempted to destroy his oft-referenced memory palace with a bulldozer, the remnants would remain. Even if the show never returns, congratulations are in order to Hugh for cultivating one of the most complex TV characters we’ve ever seen.
Jamie Dornan, “The Fall” (Netflix) – Because “The Fall” premiered in January on Netflix in America, he’s eligible! That’s great news for Jamie (who is absolutely fantastic / terrifying in this part as Paul Spector), but bad news for pretty much everyone else. His work here is among some of his most underrated to date, and that may be in part due to it being such a dark, menacing part. Also, there are so many programs on Netflix these days that “The Fall” may get lost in the shuffle. If you haven’t seen it, it’s absolutely a must-watch.
Sam Heughan, “Outlander” (Starz) – Every actor gives a lot of themselves to their role, but we cannot imagine one who was more physically or emotionally committed than Heughan throughout “Outlander” season 1. He experienced high highs courtesy of falling in love with Claire; yet, he also experienced the lowest of lows at the hands of Black Jack Randall. Sam brought everything to this part: Lightness, pain, relatability, and passion depending on the situation. You cheered for him and felt for him. It doesn’t take much to understand both his and the show’s popularity.
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC) – One of the happiest moments for us at the Emmy Awards earlier this year was seeing Hamm literally crawl up on the stage to accept the award for Actor in a Drama Series after so many years of close calls. Don Draper never had the broadest scenes on “Mad Men,” and that forced Jon into being a master of subtlety and internalization. He gave his audience just enough to understand his character without ever fully letting them in, creating a wonderful reflection on who this ad man truly was to those in his life.
Justin Theroux, “The Leftovers” (HBO) – The funny thing about “The Leftovers” season 2 is that the episodes are so individually-focused that Theroux could probably submit in Supporting. For the sake of this article, though, we’re considering him a lead and a truly fantastic one at that. Not only is he giving the best performance of his career as a traumatized and grief-stricken Kevin Garvey, but his scenes with Ann Dowd have given life to a narrative device that we thought was dead and buried following the end of “Dexter.”
Honorable mentions – Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot” (USA), Anson Mount, “Hell on Wheels” (AMC), Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC), Lee Pace, “Halt and Catch Fire” (AMC), Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)