CarterMatt Awards 2018: Jensen Ackles, Sam Heughan, Tom Ellis, Harry Shum Jr. among Top Actor nominees

Top ActorWelcome to the 2018 CarterMatt Awards! This is our seventh annual year-end series where we as a site celebrate some of the best that TV has to offer! Our staff collectively hand-picks nominees across a wide array of different fields, and then leaves it up to you to declare the winner. We’ve had a fun time over the years with these awards and creating some fun debate throughout the month of December. Hopefully, this time around is no exception!

Today we’re discussing Top Actor — this is really just about recognizing the best and brightest from the television world. Unlike the Underrated Actor / Actress categories there’s no real criteria here when it comes to past awards recognition — there’s also no differentiating between leads and supporting characters. These are just the eight performers that the CarterMatt team found particularly mesmerizing throughout 2018 for a myriad of reasons. We hope you love and appreciate these performers just as much as we do.

Voting rules – Vote however often you’d like! If you are having issues with voting, a handy guide can be found later on in this article.

When does voting close? – On Saturday, December 29 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time. The results for this category will be announced shortly after. To check out more categories and nominations for the 2018 CarterMatt Awards, check out the official landing page.

The nominees

Jensen Ackles, Supernatural – Jensen has long been an unsung hero for the work he’s done on Supernatural, at least when it comes to the award circuit. Yet, we have a feeling that there are millions of people out there who know of his extraordinary talent, his sense of humor as Dean, and his ability to extract the most from emotional moments. So what made 2018 special for him? The chance to see him take on a totally-different role in Michael who was chilling and, at times, even jarring to watch. Ackles shows off new sides to his acting arsenal, while proving in the process why he’s one of the many reasons this series is still going strong.

David Boreanaz, SEAL Team – Boreanaz took on a heavy commitment in playing Jason Hayes, a man who experiences constant physical tests and fear of death every time he steps out on a mission. Yet, Boreanaz’s finest work this season came in the midst of a personal struggle at home following the death of Alana. Watching Jason struggle and figure out his life in the wake of losing her, devastating as it may be, was a career highlight for David in showing a beautiful vulnerability. It showed Jason at a crossroads between his duty for family and duty for the job, and we appreciate just how real and unflinching every moment of that struggle was.

Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace – It’s been said many times before, but it’s certainly worth saying again that 2018 was a breakout year for Criss as a performer. He showed his ability to take on dark, chilling material and also to show that he can completely disappear into a role. There’s no denying that Andrew Cunanan is no easy person to emulate, from his behavior to his mannerisms to his motivation. Yet, Criss nailed his portrayal, offering up range and working to extract humanity from a man responsible for doing unspeakable terrible things. He offered context in a way that no one else would.

Tom Ellis, Lucifer – As Lucifer Morningstar, Ellis offered up tremendous humor and laughs throughout the first half of 2018. Yet, at the same time we don’t want to diminish the surprising amount of humanity he was able to bring to a man who was, literally, the devil. Seeing his rage build at the end of the season towards Marcus Pierce was entrancing and intense in all the right ways; meanwhile, juxtaposing that to his vulnerability over his feelings towards Chloe made the rage all the more effective. After watching the final episodes of season 3, it’s still hard to fathom why more awards shows aren’t paying attention to the utter brilliance he brought to the screen.

Sam Heughan, Outlander – If you watch the fourth and fifth episodes of season 4, you will see what is an exceptional master class when it comes to Heughan’s performance. We’ve spoken often about the number of different roles that Jamie embodies — the husband, the friend, the fighter, and the strategist. Sam is brilliant in all of them. He relies on his experience as the character to craft someone who is likable, but also human and prone to mistakes. He brings this character to life in a way that makes every adventure gripping, and also every scene something worth watching for a number of different reasons — whether it be the dialogue, the facial expressions, or the way that Heughan carries himself, he is mesmerizing to watch.

Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor – Highmore is a man of many talents with this show, but for the CarterMatt Awards, we’re speaking here entirely of his performance as Dr. Shaun Murphy. Freddie understands the ins and out of this character wonderfully, whether it be via his strengths, his insecurities, and also his shortcomings. He make Shaun into a full-fledged, multi-layered character, someone you can respect but also recognize when he makes mistakes. He will break your heart one moment and make you want to sit him down for some advice the next. Freddie’s work is consistent, strong, and something that very few other actors could ever emulate.

Alex O’Loughlin, Hawaii Five-0 – One of the most deceptively-hard roles out there is being the action hero. Even with a stunt team there’s still a great deal of physical commitment and believability that goes into it. Beyond that, there’s also an element of humor that O’Loughlin has in every episode as Steve McGarrett, mixed in with those rare moments of vulnerability and introspection. This role is almost a witches’ brew of different emotions, styles, and genres and every single episode Alex has to find a way to bring every aspect to life. This is why McGarrett overall is one of the most compelling heroes on all of television.

Harry Shum Jr., Shadowhunters – Finally, we turn to a man in Shum who has brought tremendous depth, inspiration, and also understanding to the character of Magnus Bane. He finds a way to inject Magnus’ wisdom while also still making him consciously real, in-the-moment, and capable of mistakes. We’ve seen his sorrow throughout the first half of season 3, but also witnessed victories and many soft, personal moments with Alec. Shum is consistent standout in every single scene he’s in as he offers up a role that speaks to the generations of Shadowhunters fans who are looking for someone with an understanding of love and a meaning of life and loss.

Now, we turn this over to you

Happy voting! As we mentioned, be sure to head over to the link here to check out our landing page with other categories.

I can’t see the poll; what do I do? – If you are on mobile, scroll to the bottom of the page and click to view the non-AMP version. If that does not work, give the poll a moment to load! On some mobile browsers, it may take a moment to show up. If you are still having trouble, try switching to a different device.

How can I vote more than once? – If you are having trouble casting multiple votes, try switching your browser, your device, or visiting the page under private browsing or incognito mode. There should be many handy guides online explaining how to do so if you are interested.

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!