The Best Television Performances of 2019

27 Dec

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As is tradition, time to kick off my year end lists in television, film and music! Stay tuned for more.

15. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, “Pen15”

14. Michelle Williams, “Fosse/Verdon”

13. Regina King, “Watchmen”

12. Joey King and Patricia Arquette, “The Act”

11. Akili McDowell, “David Makes Man”

10. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” – We take her for granted, but JLD was consistently amazing every year of the show’s run. Selina Meyer will forever be one of the most iconic TV characters of all time.

9. Rosa Salazar, “Undone” – Don’t overlook her performance because of the animation. If anything, it’s even more essential that we feel every texture and expression, every emotion in her voice.

8. Emily Meade, “The Deuce” – She’s been quietly giving one of the most interesting performances on TV for a few years, but it’s this year where she really shines as the heart of the series. The trajectory of Lori’s arc crystallizes in the final season, and Meade gives a raw and committed performance until the very end.

7. Aya Cash, “You’re the Worst” – A brilliant performance destined to be overlooked forever. Aya Cash is the real deal. She has impeccable comedic timing, but also has the ability to bring her character’s depression into perspective in real and shattering fashion. I will miss Gretchen dearly.

6. Billy Porter and MJ Rodriguez, “Pose” – The love, passion, and commitment that radiates from both these actors in every episode is truly astounding. This season’s AIDS storyline sees them at the top of their game, their performances and arcs driven by family and an unrelenting perseverance in the face of adversity.

5. Zendaya, “Euphoria” – A heart-breaking portrayal of addiction and a high-wire, nerve-racking performance built upon a foundation of pure desire and longing.

4. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag” – She’s simply a one woman wrecking ball, in the best of ways. In just one glance at the camera, she can convey such a wide range of emotions. Add onto that pure talent being able to play off of Andrew Scott’s Hot Priest, and it’s a recipe for amazing things.

3. Jharrel Jerome, “When They See Us” – A haunting, physically demanding performance that traverses over a decade in time. It is no small feat that among such a stellar cast, it is he who carries episode four, the series, and the real life story of Korey Wise on his back.

2. Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette, and Merritt Wever, “Unbelievable” – All three immensely talented women work in tandem to create a beautiful portrait of empathy in crisis. It seems unfair to not spotlight all of them.

1. Suranne Jones, “Gentleman Jack” – Her energy, swagger, and confidence are infectiously entertaining. Her scheming is delightful. But it’s her desire to love and be loved under it all that makes this such a powerful, lovely performance.

OTHER DESERVING PEOPLE: Pamela Adlon (Better Things), Barry cast, Succession cast (esp. Sarah), Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini (Dead to Me), Elizabeth Olsen (Sorry For Your Loss), Daisy Haggard (Back to Life), Hiam Abbass and May Calamawy (Ramy), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Rachel Bloom and Donna Lynne Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney (Catastrophe), Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll), Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard (Chernobyl), Will Arnett (Bojack Horseman), Olivia Colman (The Crown), Aisling Bea (This Way Up), Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet), Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education), Chris O’Dowd and Rosamund Pike (State of the Union), Kathryn Hahn (Mrs. Fletcher), Julio Torres (Los Espookys)

Also a shoutout to Emmy Rossum and her nine magnificent seasons on “Shameless,” a show that needs to end.

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