Allison Tolman — I hate that it’s true, but there’s just no room for Tolman this year. Look at the Best Actress category: Anna Gunn, Lizzy Caplan, Julianna Margulies, Elizabeth Olsen, and hopefully Tatiana Maslany. I suspect the newbie will be the odd man out, and that’s a shame because Tolman was terrific in her breakout performance on Fargo. On the other hand, I wouldn’t know who to remove from the Best Actress equation.
Jack Huston, Boardwalk Empire — Boardwalk Empire and its lead, Steve Buscemi, are no stranger to Emmy nominations, but it’s the subtle brilliance of Jack Huston that has been sorely overlooked. Not only does he have to act around the CGI covering one side of his face, he has to convey so much with few words. The fourth season was, in some part, Huston’s featured season, so if there’s any year he deserves it most, it’s this one.
Kiernan Shipka — A lot of Mad Men actors have been nominated for Emmys, but so far, none of them have won. Kiernan Shipka should officially get the opportunity to lose one this year, as she has matured into a brilliant actress who couldn’t possibly play Sally Draper any better. She’s part Betty, part Don, and every kind of amazing. She was absolutely brilliant in the second episode of this season, bridging her gap with her father in a diner and delivering one of the most heartfelt moments of the season.
Andy Daly — Though his show Review offered the best examination of decisions and their consequences since Breaking Bad, Daly hasn’t gotten as much notice as he should have for the brilliant Comedy Central series. Daly managed to very difficult task of making a show very funny but giving it a dark center, providing some of the best and most biting satire of the year.
Demián Bichir — He’ll be crowded out again by a very good field of Best Actor candidates, but Bichir’s stand-out performance in the underappreciated The Bridge proved that his Oscar nomination was no fluke. He brought to The Bridge what so many crime dramas are missing: A real sense of humanity. He also ran the complete gamut of emotions, from wry and funny to jovial and sympathetic to devastated and depressed. He was absolute perfection in the role.
Christopher Meloni — The show was cancelled after only a handful of episodes over on Fox, but that hardly changes the fact that Meloni provided maybe the best male comedy performance of the year on Surviving Jack. He was brilliant, managing to be funny, tough, human, and heartfelt, or what every Dad should aspire to be.
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson — Like Key & Peele, Glazer and Jacobson should really be nominated together as a kind of Best Female Actress in a Comedy unit. Broad City was like all the best parts of Girls with none of the annoying parts, and it managed to do what Girls has not: Remain consistently funny all season long. Glazer and Jacobson were a oddball delight with impeccable chemistry over on Comedy Central, which has quietly — with Review, Broad City, Key and Peele, and Inside Amy Schumer — become the edgiest, funniest network on television.
Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal — I’m not completely ruling out the possibility that Mikkelsen will receive some deserved Emmy recognition for his supporting performance as Hannibal Lector because Emmy voters do have a soft spot for both movie actors and serial killers. However, Hannibal hasn’t really commanded the attention of Emmy voters, which pay little attention to network series in the drama category, and even less to the anemically rated ones. It’s already damn near impossible category to win with McConaughey and Cranston, but Mikkelsen’s performance has been riveting, mesmerizing, and deliciously evil,
Aiden Young, Rectify — Too few people have seen Sundance channel’s amazing, searing, and devastating Rectify to truly appreciate the performance that Young turned in this year. It’s hard to put him ahead of the ultimate nominees — Cranston, Sheen, McConaughey, and Hamm — but Young’ was my favorite male performance of the year, a mixture of soulfulness, bewilderment, and a menacing sweetness that made his character the most enigmatic of the 2013-2014 campaign. (Note, I’m not entirely sure that Young is eligible, as the eligibility period began June 1st last year, and Rectify’s first season ended on June 18th).