10 Deserving Emmy Performances

We're still months and months away from the Oscars, but the other awards ceremony of the moving image is starting to sneak up; two weeks from today, the nominations for the Primetime Emmys, the biggest awards honoring television comedies, dramas, miniseries and movies, will be announced, ahead of the ceremony itself in September. Given the stars that the small screen attracts these days, it's just as glitzy as the Academy Awards, and given that we're living in what's generally deemed to be something of a golden age of television, there are more good shows on the air than could possibly be honored in a single ceremony. Someone's going to miss out.

We've already highlighted our favorite shows of the past TV season, as well as the faces that we think are set to break out of the small screen in the next few years. And in the run up to the Emmy nominations themselves, we're going to be making some predictions as to who might find themselves with nods next week. But first, we're going to name a few actors and actresses who have given some of the best performances of the past twelve months, but are for one reason or another, unlikely to make it to the final six nominees in their respective categories.

Obviously, there are some performers who you won't find here. Sometimes, it's because we think they'll figure into the nominations themselves ("Breaking Bad," "Girls" and "Parks and Recreation" are among the favorites that we think will do well), and sometimes it's because we, like Emmy voters, simply didn't have the room. As ever, you can let us know your own favorites in the comments section below. Some spoilers ahead.

Anna Chancellor
Anna Chancellor as Lix Storm in "The Hour"
Curiously, "The Hour," one of BBC Drama's big hitters of 2011, got much better reviews in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it was unfairly derided as a second-rate "Mad Men" knock off. Revolving around the staff of a BBC television news programme in 1956 as the Suez Crisis and the government hunt for communist moles is underway, it features a top-notch cast, with excellent performances from Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Dominic West and more. And while it had a slightly rocky start, the scripts (by "Shame" writer Abi Morgan) got more confident and compelling as they went on. Nevertheless, despite the more positive reaction on its BBC America airing and a smattering of Golden Globe nominations, we're not expecting the show to do especially well with the Emmys, which is a shame for a number of reasons, not least because it'll mean that Anna Chancellor's turn will probably be ignored. She's been a familiar screen face for a couple of decades now -- still likely best known as "Duckface" in "Four Weddings and a Funeral," but also cropping up in films as diverse as "The Dreamers" and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." But she had one of her best-ever showcases as Lix Storm, the admittedly ridiculously named foreign correspondent of the show-within-the-show. Entirely and gloriously convincing as a woman who owns her space in a world still dominated by men, Chancellor was very much a supporting character (free from the constraints of some of the soapier plotting), but lit up the screen every time she was on it, whether uncovering the story behind Suez or leaping into a no-strings fling with green producer Freddie (Whishaw). Chancellor was recognized with a much-deserved nod from the BAFTA TV awards earlier this year, but it's unlikely to be repeated across the pond. Maybe for season two?   

Anna Chlumsky
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer in "Veep"
Whatever happened to the girl from "My Girl"? After all, co-star Macaulay Culkin went on to be a major star before burning out and falling out of favor, but after its sequel and a handful of TV apperances, Anna Chlumsky, who was ten when she starred in the kids' weepie, pretty much disappeared. As it turns out she was simply biding her time; she stepped away from acting after college to work in publishing, before reappearing with a small role in the first season of "30 Rock." But her serious comeback came with a major role in Armando Iannucci's glorious political satire "In The Loop," and when the writer came to HBO for a similar series (like the film, indebted to his original BBC show "The Thick Of It"), he brought Chlumsky with him, playing the young chief of staff to Julia-Louis Dreyfus' Vice-President Selina Meyer. Given her long and lauded sitcom past, the "Seinfeld" star is virtually assured a nomination, but even among a cast of comedic ringers including Tony Hale and Matt Walsh, Chlumsky has been the real stand-out. Despite still being only 31, she's never less than totally convincing as a Washington insider of fierce intellect and scathing wit; her interplay with godawful White House liaison Jonah (Timothy Simons) has been one of the major highlights of the show to date. Given her impeccable comic timing and fast and fearless approach, it's no surprise that she was the only "In The Loop" cast member who returned for the show, and has fast become the major reason to watch "Veep."