Who are the best drama performers of the year? As is often the case, the Actor in a Drama Series field is one of the strongest categories of the entire Emmy race. There are so many different shows you can pull from, and so many different performances. Some are action-heavy, some cause you to well up with tears, and ultimately some will have you cheering on your couch. This is one of the reasons why this is the golden age in television.
This should make it very clear how difficult a job it was choosing just six contenders out of the field for our CarterMatt staff Emmy picks. Nonetheless, we’ve narrowed down our picks, and also explained why each one of them is worthy of the honor. As always, we’re also opening up the field for you to vote for who you think is the worthy winner of our staff picks!
How do you vote? It’s easy. Just pick your favorite of the nominees at the bottom of the article, and you can do so however many times you like — you may need to clear the cache first. (Note that if you are visiting on mobile and do not see the poll, you may need to click to view the non-AMP version of the page.) If your favorite is not on our list, be sure to leave us a comment in the box below with your choice. We still want to hear from you!
The 2017 Emmy nominations will be formally announced on July 13. The results of all of our CarterMatt Emmy polls will be formally revealed on July 12 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific. They will officially close in the minutes leading up to that time.
Quick Update (June 3) on Matthew Gray Gubler’s participation – Originally we were told by ABC that the Criminal Minds star was submitting as a lead this year. However, they’ve since come back to us and corrected it, saying that he is submitting as supporting. With that, we’ve removed his from this poll and replaced him with Mike Colter. Matthew will be a part of the Supporting Actor poll, and any votes cast for him here will be carried over there out of fairness.
Our staff pick Emmy nominees, Actor in a Drama Series
Mike Colter, Luke Cage (Netflix) – Colter brought a ton of physicality to the title role of the Netflix drama, but he also brought just as much humanity to a character who, effectively, cannot be killed. What made this especially entertaining to watch was seeing Colter’s humanity explored on such a deep level, to go along with his desire to protect the city he loved and the people he held dear. Luke Cage may not have been a mainstream hero in the eyes of many before this series, but thanks to this performance he is one of the most three-dimensional ones within the Marvel universe.
Jamie Dornan, The Fall (Netflix) – It’s very hard to play a psychopath like Paul Spector in a way that is so pointed and layered, but in the show’s final season, Jamie did that with such focus and range. In some ways, you can argue that in the first half of the final season Dornan took on a completely different iteration of the character at the same time keeping that beautiful creepiness about him. You were reminded as to why Spector was able to allude capture for so long; he plays the terrifying villain brilliant, but there is also so much more to him than merely that.
Travis Fimmel, Vikings (History) – So rarely is power and gravitas mixed with such vulnerability, but Fimmel brought it all in what proved to be his final season on the series. He is a physically imposing performer who sells that well, but his true strength lies in his ability to show different dimensions depending on his scene partner. His scenes with Alex Høgh Andersen brought such a surprising tenderness and understanding to them, while we’ve seen his charms work on many women over the years. Ragnar was a man both haunted by his past and wise beyond his years, and he delivered every second he was onscreen.
Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead (AMC) – The oft-mentioned but perpetually snubbed Lincoln put a tremendous amount of effort into this performance from start to finish this season, showcasing pain, suffering, hope, and determination through sixteen episodes. He didn’t rush anything when it comes to the evolution of Rick Grimes from a broken man into a reemerging leader; he made every note of it believable. If we were to pin down the timeline in which Lincoln was his strongest, you don’t have to look any further than the start of season 7.
Lee Pace, Halt and Catch Fire (AMC) – “NIM.” That is the name of the ninth episode of season 3, and the strongest episode for Pace to date as Joe MacMillan. He brought everything to that episode, from his mortality to his ambition to a quiet, contemplative spirit not seen before from the character. Almost the entire episode was spent solely with him and Mackenzie Davis, and it is a master class in subtlety and letting actions speak just as much as words. When the episode finally crescendos, it does so in a way that is so earned, almost as though there is no other way it could’ve ended. With this, Pace further proved that he is one TV’s most brilliant performers.
Aidan Turner, Poldark (PBS) – Finally, we turn to a series in Poldark that gives Turner such a wide breadth of material to work with. Ross will make you smile at times, make you cry at others, and also frustrate you to no end when he does something you’re not altogether fond of. Few performers have that ability to draw you in to their story and place you within the moment. Turner generates such a magnetism and investment that with each passing moment, you become more and more attached to every one of Ross’ actions.
Other Favorites – Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC), Matt Smith, The Crown (Netflix), Justin Theroux, The Leftovers (HBO).
Now, we leave it to you to vote!
Remember that to see some other Emmy categories posted daily (including Outstanding Drama Series), be sure to visit the link here. (Photo: Emmys.)