CarterMatt Awards 2019: Sam Heughan, Aidan Turner, Tom Ellis, Omari Hardwick among Top Actor contenders

Outlander season 4

Welcome to the 2019 CarterMatt Awards! This is our year-end tradition (eight years strong!) where we as a site celebrate some of the best that TV has to offer! Our staff joins forces to hand-pick nominees across a wide array of different fields, and then leaves it up to you to declare the winner. This has always been one of our favorite times of the year, as we get a chance to celebrate TV while looking back at the individual elements that make it great.

Today we’re discussing Top Actor — This is a category all about recognizing the best that TV has to offer. What we look for are performers with rich layers, people who can tap into their characters in a deep meaningful way and show us characters who feel real, even in extreme situations. They can make us laugh or cry; above all else, they have us excited to watch them week after week.

Now, let’s get to sharing the Top Actor nominees…

David Boreanaz, SEAL Team – What a powerful performance that we saw from David over the past year as Jason Hayes. Sure, at this point we’ve come to expect him to be a commanding when it comes to action, but there’s something more here. There is a man struggling with loss, what it means to be a leader, and how to take care of himself when he’s not out in the field. This may be one of the best stretches that we’ve seen from Boreanaz over the course of a season.

Tom Ellis, Lucifer – It will never be lost on us how brilliant Ellis is at switching gears. He can play Lucifer Morningstar in a comedic fashion only for a darker impulse to take over. He’s required to be dramatic, be angry, and at times be terrifying in this role. He makes it work on all levels, and one of the biggest reasons why this all comes together so beautifully is Lucifer’s own frailty. Sure, he’s not human in the same way as some characters are, but he has the same dramatic rise and fall.

Omari Hardwick, Power – The midseason finale “No One Can Stop Me” was one of the most difficult scripts for any actor to take on. There was difficult dialogue and confrontational scenes, and each one had to be different from the rest. The writers executed their plan knowing that Omari could deliver, and he did — it was a tour de force of power (pun intended) from a man who has given himself fully to the conflicts of James St. Patrick’s world.

Mark Harmon, NCIS – 2019 may be the best year for Harmon as an actor of this entire decade. Some of the credit of course goes to the writers, who allowed him the opportunity to get into Gibbs’ darker and more vulnerable corners and examine who he is as a man within his job as well as out of it, but Mark’s approach to this material was outstanding. He allowed Jethro to be vulnerable, to exist beyond catchphrases and show us that no matter where you are in life that there is always time for self reflection and change.

Sam Heughan, Outlander – It’s no secret why Sam is on this list — we think he’s a phenomenal actor, and he’s also been routinely the most overlooked person among Emmy and Golden Globe voters. Everyone seems to recognize his brilliance, only for him to narrowly miss the cut. He’s worthy of more, given that few characters are capable of what Jamie Fraser is — he’s caring, but at the same time funny, flawed, determined, and compelling. Every scene with Heughan in this role is a treat.

Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor – As fantastic as Freddie has been for the bulk of the series’ run, there are two scenes from 2019 that stand out — his “I am a surgeon” confrontation with Daniel Dae Kim as Jackson Han, and Shaun Murphy’s unraveling at the end of the December 2 winter finale. These episodes show the tenacity Freddie brings to this role, one that requires bravery and tenderness and at times a lack of understanding. He makes it all work.

James Spader, The Blacklist – What continues to surprise us about Spader as Raymond Reddington is that he’s playing a man without a clear backstory which makes what he does with this character exceptional. James may have more information than most of us about his character, but there are still questionable motives and gaps of time here. He makes Reddington into an commanding figure, one who is shrewd and almost always ten steps ahead.

Aidan Turner, Poldark – It’s the final year of the series’ eligibility, and we would continue to maintain that Turner was the absolute right person to take Ross on. What he brought to this part over the years was a willingness to not just turn the character into a romantic hero, but also a man who, at times, looked before he jumped. His flaws were as important as his victories, and we were right as viewers to question him. It was a reflection of the unrealistic way we view our protagonists sometimes and a breaking down of those norms.

Photo: Starz

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