The Top 15 Television Performances of 2013

19 Jan

breaking-bad-series-finaleHere we go with the second installment in my 2013 End of Year series; check out the “Top 20 Film Performances of 2013” here:

*Note: this list is unranked.

BRYAN CRANSTON, “BREAKING BAD”: Cranston’s final run as Walter White is as perfect as everything that came beforehand. While the first half of season 5 reflected his time on top, the second half showed us someone trying to hold onto a crumbling empire and a crumbling family, and Cranston handles this perfectly.

MICHAEL CUDLITZ, “SOUTHLAND”: In the criminally underrated TNT drama, Michael Cudlitz gives a virtuoso performance as cop John Cooper; the cast is strong, but Cudlitz is the anchor. His performance is absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s a shame we can’t see more.

HUGH DANCY, “HANNIBAL”: Dancy plays Will Graham, a gifted criminal profiler who comes across a cannibalistic psychologist in Hannibal Lecter. The relationship is a marvel to watch, and Dancy gets increasingly better as Graham’s psyche starts to shatter.

ADEN YOUNG, “RECTIFY”: In one of 2013’s best revelations, Aden Young is masterful as Daniel Holden, a man released from prison after a wrongful conviction. It’s a beautiful performance, and Young can convey so much merely through his body language.

ABIGAIL SPENCER, “RECTIFY”: Spencer plays Amantha Holden, Daniel’s sister. She and Young have a fantastic rapport, and just like him, her body language can covey so much heartbreak, so much longing.

ELISABETH MOSS, “TOP OF THE LAKE”: I wasn’t a huge fan of “Top of the Lake”, but Moss’s performance is definitely awards-worthy. She’s great as Robin Griffin, a police inspector called in to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, and we’re able to connect with her story and her case.

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT, “JUSTIFIED”: Olyphant continues to do great work as Raylan Givens, and season 4 brings a bit more depth to his relationship with his father, Arlo.

JON HAMM, “MAD MEN”: Don Draper is every bit as Draper-esque as before, and season 6 delves into his relationships with Sylvia, Megan, and Sally; Hamm handles it all with ease.

JAKE JOHNSON, “NEW GIRL”: Johnson has quickly grown into one of the more gifted comedic actors working today, and his portrayal of Nick Miller is perfect. He’s hilarious, sweet, and awkward, and I love Nick and Jess together.

OrphanBlack-Blog-1-1024x576TATIANA MASLANY, “ORPHAN BLACK”: Out of all the performances this year, none may be as impressive as Maslany’s portrayal of multiple clones; each has her own demeanor, her own way of speaking, her own beliefs and personalities and relationships. It’s a mindblowing performance by a rising young star.

EMMY ROSSUM, “SHAMELESS”: Fiona Gallagher’s one of the most endearing characters on television, and season 3 improves on nearly every facet of the show. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of watching her grow as a character, and Rossum nails every scene.

NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU, “GAME OF THRONES”: While Peter Dinklage stole season 2, Coster-Waldau’s Jaime Lannister does the same for season 3. His relationship with Brienne is fantastic, and that “My name is Jaime” scene is one of the most well-acted scenes of the year.

MICHAEL SHEEN, “MASTERS OF SEX”: William Masters may come across as cold and aloof at the beginning of the season–and Sheen conveys that extremely well–we slowly grow to care about him as various aspects of his life are shaded in; that’s due largely to Sheen’s performance.

LIZZY CAPLAN, “MASTERS OF SEX”: The other essential part of the series is Caplan’s Virginia Johnson, a single mother trying to balance work, kids, and school. She’s extremely compelling to watch, and Sheen and Caplan are pros.

LAURA DERN, “ENLIGHTENED”: Amy Jellicoe is one of my favorite recent television characters: sometimes irritating, sometimes endearing. Dern perfectly captures the inherent sadness and hope in her situation, and she’s fantastic in a series that ended too soon.


-Keri Russell/Matthew Rhys/Noah Emmerich, “The Americans”

-Corey Stoll, “House of Cards”

-Mads Mikkelsen, “Hannibal”

-Walton Goggins, “Justified”

-Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

-Dean Norris/Anna Gunn/Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”

-Clarke Peters, “Treme”

-William H. Macy, “Shameless”

-Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”

-Sarah Shahi/Amy Acker, “Person of Interest”

-Kerry Washington, “Scandal”

-Sutton Foster, “Bunheads”

-Damian Lewis, “Homeland”

-Amy Poehler/Nick Offerman, “Parks and Recreation”

-Regina King, “Southland”

-Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

-Jenna Fischer, “The Office”

-Elisha Cuthbert, “Happy Endings”

Photo credit: AMC, Breaking Bad, BBC America, Orphan Black

3 Responses to “The Top 15 Television Performances of 2013”

  1. crowdoffullpockets January 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Cranston and Maslany were amazing.
    I was surprised by Hugh Dancy being on your list because I only watched about the first half of the season of “Hannibal” and it didn’t seem to me like he had that much to do, but your comment makes that make more sense to me.
    Fun list!

    • polarbears16 January 20, 2014 at 12:13 am #

      They were! And did you not like Hannibal? Dancy was fantastic, as was Mikkelsen, and the show genuinely surprised me.

      • crowdoffullpockets January 20, 2014 at 10:37 am #

        Yeah, I wasn’t really a fan. The performances were good (even Fishburne was fine) and I wouldn’t say it was badly done by any means, but it just didn’t work for me. I think a significant part of the problem was that I pretty much hate “The Silence of the Lambs” (Jonathan Demme, USA 1991) and the show, for obvious reasons, really felt similar. I thought its characters were also rather troped, which limited my interest in them (though I enjoyed Lara Jean Chorostecki, for a few reasons :)). For me, it also felt like the show was treading water anytime Hannibal wasn’t on screen. It overall just felt like well-made “meh,” which wasn’t enough to keep me fully interested.
        I haven’t completely written it off and may well finish the season at some point, but for now I’m more interested in end-of-year movies.

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