We know that the phrase “golden age of television” is one that is bandied about often by television critics and the media, but how do you look at a list like the one below for Top Actress in the CarterMatt Awards and feel like we’re in anything else? There are a good eight or nine women who are equally worthy who were involved in heated office debates as we tried to compose our list of nominees.
If this is your first time reading a CarterMatt Awards article, here’s the quick rundown: We share our nominees, you vote, and then we announce the winners a little later this month. Voting for this category closes at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on December 28. You can head over here to see all of the categories this year, and also when specific results for each one of them will be announced.
For those of you looking for a little more of a historical perspective to this category, we previously were splitting up actors by genre rather than by gender. Therefore, the comparable CarterMatt Awards category in 2014 was Drama Actor, which was won by Hugh Dancy. Maggie Siff scored in 2013, and Jennifer Carpenter in 2012.
Caitriona Balfe, “Outlander” (Starz) – After the Screen Actors Guild Award snub last week, there was a major fear in our head that “Outlander” could go through the full year without a single major-category nomination from the Big Three award shows. Luckily, the Golden Globes changed that. We’re still bummed about the Sam Heughan snub, but we’re thrilled that Caitriona is getting some love for a determined, powerful performance that required the utmost of commitment from her. She had to play a person capable of survival in two different time periods, and while she was not always physically the strongest person in the room, she never felt weak.
Kirsten Dunst, “Fargo” (FX) – The entire second season of “Fargo” had wonderful performances throughout, but Dunst as Peggy was a revelation. We feel like not only did she capture the time period and her scripts to perfection, but this may be a little bit of a renaissance for a performer who never received her proper due for some prior projects. This was certainly one of the breakout performances of 2015.
Eva Green, “Penny Dreadful” (Showtime) – We don’t quite know why 2015 was the year that everyone first started to realize how brilliant Green is on this show, but we’re grateful. Vanessa is not always an easy character to play given her circumstances and constant challenges, but Eva brings so much passion and depth to this part that she is mesmerizing. It’s not always easy to relate to characters in supernatural circumstances; she makes it easy.
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire” (Fox) – How do you not include Taraji on any list? What she did transcends more than just a role; it alters the fate of an entire show. Cookie Lyon is to us one of the primary reasons behind the meteoric rise of “Empire” to network TV’s #1 show, and she gives this role everything from drama to humor to an edge you won’t find anywhere else. There’s not a single Cookie scene on the series that is less-than-exciting to watch.
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black” (BBC America) – We will never tire of saying that anyone who does not include Maslany on an awards-show ballot is simply doing it wrong. It’d be one thing if a group like the Emmys was giving her a pat on the back for simply playing so many characters. What makes this different is that every single character is fantastic in its own right.
Melissa McBride, “The Walking Dead” (AMC) – We don’t believe anyone on the series is necessarily destined to make it until the end, but Melissa has single-handedly made it really tough for the writers to ever consider killing Carol off. Look at the comic-book counterpart, and look at how her incredible performance has completely transformed this character into someone awesome. She got to play so many different versions of Carol this year; some of them were protective, some were dangerous, and some were secretive. All were incredibly entertaining.