Andrew Buchan – Broadchurch: Episode 1.3
Andrew Buchan gets some moments to show real vulnerability in this episode, but it also boasts one of his most minimal performance moments and probably his very best of the entire season; for that scene alone, the first of the episode, he’s got to be on this list.
Andrew Buchan – Broadchurch: Episode 1.8
The final episode of season one and no spoilers from me. What can you say about the performance of this central character without giving anything away about the episode? Just this: phenomenal.
Guillermo Diaz – Scandal: Boom Goes the Dynamite
Guillermo Diaz sort of revolutionized television acting for me with his incredibly grim, incredibly committed turn as the damaged Huck in Scandal’s second season. The extent of Huck’s damage has certainly been hinted at before, but it’s in this episode that we get to see the character at something like his most vulnerable and his most terrifying.
Guillermo Diaz – Scandal: Seven Fifty-Two
Until, of course, this episode. The pure emotional devastation of this episode, still probably Scandal’s best episode, is nothing to laugh at. It absolutely lays waste and the episode stands or falls on Diaz’ performance. Needless to say, it doesn’t just stand, it soars. This is acting like one rarely sees and one of the most emotionally grueling hours I saw last year.
Jeff Perry – Scandal: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is its own kind of brutal, but it’s Jeff Perry’s Cyrus on the rack this time and the performance here is right up there with Perry’s finest in the entire series. No spoilers for this amazing episode, but it’s as good a flashback episode as the show’s given us (except for Seven Fifty-Two, of course) and Perry’s stellar work anchors the entire thing.
Jeff Perry – Scandal: White Hat’s Back On
Second season finale finds Perry in excellent form. It’s episode where the plot could easily overwhelm the characters, but with Perry on hand, that won’t happen.
Jeff Perry – Scandal: YOLO
By the time YOLO is over, even Cyrus can’t pretend that he’s anything but the devil; but, in case you’ve forgotten, the devil doesn’t just consign others to hell – he suffers there himself, the first and greatest tormented soul. Perry finds that in this brutal episode.
David Tennant – Broadchurch: Episode 1.4
It’s hard to believe the level of acting Tennant is able to bring to the part of his troubled detective in Broadchurch’s first season. When he enters in episode one, he appears to already be damaged beyond repair; so it’s down to Tennant’s genius that he’s able to make Hardy’s descent even further down believable. You thought he was broken before? Watch this.
David Tennant – Broadchurch: Episode 1.6
Tennant’s acting just keeps getting better and there’s a particular emotional moment that I find most actors simply can’t get at all right; to tell you what it is would be to spoil this episode’s climax, but suffice it to say that Tennant gets that moment as right as anyone I’ve ever seen.
Mike White – Enlightened: Lonely Ghosts
It isn’t enough for Mike White to be co-creator of Enlightened; he also wrote every episode and directed a fair chunk. But he also turns in a brilliant performance as Laura Dern’s awkward friend Tyler. In Lonely Ghosts, perhaps the most purely transcendent episode of the first season, White reveals Tyler in a new way; it’s a nuanced, emotionally true, minimal performance and it’s some of the best acting of the entire show.