CarterMatt Awards 2017: Megan Boone, Caitriona Balfe, Mariska Hargitay lead Top Actress field

Top ActressWho are some of the finest performers on TV? It’s such a broad question that it’s almost impossible to figure out an answer to. There are so many genres and so many actors then ever before; also, so much of it is subjective. A performance may have an emotional impact on you because of certain dialogue or a setting to even the inflection of an actor’s voice. A part of what makes the television medium so fantastic is that we have the time to get attached to performers and their characters over a long period of time.

Just like we mentioned yesterday with the Top Actor field, it was difficult once more to narrow down our CarterMatt Awards category of Top Actress of 2017. The staff engaged in a very heated debate but once more we came up with a list of eight performers very much worthy of the honor. They brought everything from passion to commitment to their work this past year and deserve more than just everyday praise for it.

(Note: If you are on mobile and cannot see the poll, scroll to the bottom of the article and click to view the non-AMP version.)

Voting for this category is going to remember open from now until Wednesday, December 27 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time (1:00 pm. Pacific), when the results will be posted in a separate article. To see more categories / results and view official voting rules, check out our CarterMatt Awards landing page.

Now, without further ado, let’s get to sharing the staff nominations for CarterMatt’s Top Actress of 2017.

Caitriona Balfe, Outlander (Starz) – Somehow, someway, Balfe found a way to get even better in 2017 after scoring two Golden Globe nominations in the past for playing Claire Fraser. Just look at episodes like “Freedom & Whisky,” “Heaven & Earth,” and “Uncharted” to see all of the different dimensions that she’s brought to the series. Caitriona can make you well up in tears, only to moments later make you cheer. Outlander offers up such fantastic material that it takes a fantastic lead to live up to the hype; luckily, Balfe is that and then some.

Megan Boone, The Blacklist (NBC) – Season 5 may be Boone’s finest performance to date and for a wide array of reasons. We saw a freer side to Elizabeth Keen at the start of the season, someone unburdened by much of her past and willing to embrace the action and the crazy of her world. Later in the season, we followed that up with experiencing Liz at her lowest point, struggling with the loss of her husband, being in a coma for ten months and missing a good portion of her daughter’s life. Boone has some of her most heartbreaking material this season and we felt every bit of her pain.

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – Even before “Something Happened” Hargitay would be a nominee in this category. After “Something Happened,” how do you debate her not being nominated? It was one of the best single-episode performances we’ve ever seen — raw, unrelenting, and emotionally compelling. The fact that Hargitay can play Benson for nineteen years and still produce these emotions out of an audience is a testament to her commitment to excellence on this show and with the delicate source material at the center of it.

Issa Rae, Insecure (HBO) – Issa Rae is hilarious — it’s hard to dispute that after Insecure season 2. What makes her stand out in the midst of so many other comedy actresses is the heart she puts into her character. She makes her feel so relatable. You attach yourself to her dreams and feel for her failures. As a result of that, you relish in her victories more than you would any standard performer. The final episode of season 2, in particular, is brilliant and for that alone she deserves to be on this list.

Sarah Rafferty, Suits (USA) – Rafferty has long been one of the most invaluable members of the show’s cast, but her arc through season 7 to date is undoubtedly one of the best. You’ve seen her explore her identity, her future, and the value of the relationships she has with those close to her. It’s been hopeful at times and heartbreaking at others, and there’s a reason why the Donna and Darvey fandoms are so strong. She puts her heart and soul into this performance.

Monica Raymund, Chicago Fire (NBC) – Raymund is traditionally great as Gabriella Dawson year after year, but these past twelve months saw her bring things up to yet another level. There were a number of standout Dawson moments, from her being the strong leader saving lives to her telling Casey that he can never say goodbye to her again like he did in “My Miracle.” Raymund makes Dawson the magnetic character that she is and focal point for much of the Chicago Fire story.

Eleanor Tomlinson, Poldark (PBS) – Demelza Poldark is a woman who thrives on defying expectations, and we’ve seen that from her time and time again. She’s grown into one of Cornwall’s most-formidable forces, but that doesn’t stop her from also being soft and vulnerable. What Demelza wants is to be cared for and to also have someone who wants to be cared for in turn. The rawness of her scenes with Aidan Turner illustrated that beautifully throughout season 3 and she deserves to be recognized for this role.

Katheryn Winnick, Vikings (History) – Winnick portrays one of the most powerful characters across all of TV in Lagertha, but never does so in a way that intimidates viewers or places her out of reach. You still understand her heart and her intention, and Winnick’s done an exemplary job allowing us a window into how she thinks and acts. Sure, Lagertha is a badass, but she’s so much more than that and we’ve seen that throughout the end of season 4 and now the start of season 5.

Now … we turn this over to you!

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Update: Voting for this category has now closed. You can view the results here.
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