10) Emily Deschanel, Bones
I don't not to watch episodic cop shows, mostly because past about four episodes they become nauseating, but if I were to watch one on a regular basis, it would probably be Bones. Leads Deschanel and Buffy's David Boreanaz work well together, and it can be funny. But sister of Zooey gives an always interesting performance as borderline asperger's inflicted Temperance Brennan. (Show, why call your main character Temperance. Why?)
9) Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
First of all this show has a stupid title, because it could mean the closer, as in one who is becoming closer to things, like solving cases. Or it could mean the closer, as in someone who closes cases. Either way, Sedgewick gives a good, if occasionally OTT performance at its centre. It gives it a little more identity then just another female lead cop show on TNT.
8) Jennifer Carpenter, Dexter
On a show where the supporting cast is a multi-ethnic conglomeration of blandness, Carpenter does well with what she's got, taking a character that is seemingly defined by whoever her boyfriend is at any given time, Carpenter has done some good work in a difficult role.
7) Karen Gillan, Doctor Who
A vital part of what for me has been by far and away the best year of Doctor Who, with much of the camp and maudlin melodrama Russell T Davies brought to proceedings gone, and replaced with a greater element of serialization and more formed characters. And Gillian's Amy Pond is probably the greatest example of that. A fun, winning performance.
6) Anna Torv, Fringe
Torv was rightly called on being the weakest element of Fringe back in the day. But in its superior third season, Torv was in her element, playing two versions of her character Olivia. The newer of which, heralding from the alta-universe, has began to steal the show on a regular basis, neither the straight-forward villain people expected nor the blank slate that the old character could be, Torv isnow quietly giving some of the most under-rated work on TV, and doing it twice over.
5) Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
This show is classified as a comedy in al the awards ceremonies, but Falco's performance is so inherently dramatic I have no interest in wasting a space that someone who's actually funny could have. Falco is very good on this oft frustrating show, as you'd expect. Not groundbreaking work perhaps, but hitting al the old beats fantastically.
4) Glenn Close, Damages
The inconsistent Damages did itself a huge favor when it landed Glenn Close at its centre, and over the years she's given a stellar performance in a show that, despite its A-list pedigree and reception, can be fucking awful at times. But Close is too good of an actress not to be extra-ordinary, so what are you going to do.
3) Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
The show that made melodrama cool again, and much it works largely thanks to the terrific performances of its two leads, Kyle Chandlerand Connie Britton. Unfortunately the male category was too competitive for me to fit Chandler in, but Britton does equally good work as his wife, neither a pushover or a shrew. The two default arechetypes for TV wives, even in well respected shows, she's complex but fundamentally a great person, and Britton brings that out wonderfully.
2) Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
At the centre of the very classy legal show The Good Wife, Marguiles gives an exceptionally intelligent performance. Not afraid to be showy when she has to be, nor appropriately quieter when the scene calls for it. Classy work on a classy show.
1) Eilsabeth Moss, Mad Men
Moss started out one of the weakest aspects of Mad Men. Particularly in the early years, when everyone was so awesome and she was so mousy and unimpactful, but in a year where so many characters fell from grace, Moss' Peggy came into her own, giving performance where the maturity forms in front of your eyes.