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Best Dramatic TV Performances: The Men

I countdown some of the best dramatic performance by male actors this TV season.

Sure, we have the typical players like Bryan Cranston as Walter White – a force to be reckoned with – and Homeland‘s Damian Lewis as the (ex) terrorist to Claire Danes’ bipolar CIA operative. But I thought I’d take a look at some of the newer and sometimes overlooked performances, starting with…

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham (Hannibal)


Albeit, only three episodes of Hannibal have aired so far, but the acting has been top-notch. In particular, Hugh Dancy delivers a chilling performance as FBI criminal profiler, Will Graham. Graham has a unique ‘talent’ at getting into the minds of serial killers, and empathizing with them like no one else. As a result of this ‘gift’, Graham isolates himself and it’s made clear from the very beginning that he doesn’t operate well in social situations. It’s heavily implied in the first episode that he might be autistic. (Dancy actually played an autistic character in the indie production Adam.) Graham also suffers from vivid hallucinations and disturbing nightmares. The way Dancy plays this character is perfect. You can tell that he completely embodies the character and all of his strange behaviors.

Michael Cudlitz as John Cooper (Southland)


John Cooper, played magnificently by Michael Cudlitz, is a character in constant physical, emotional, and mental agony. Over the course of five seasons, Southland has explored both Cooper’s professional and personal life, and how those two worlds intertwine. As far as the viewers know, Cooper’s sexuality is kept secret from most of his co-workers, but he recently revealed that he was gay to his latest partner in “Chaos”. That episode, along with the season (series?) finale episode “Reckoning”, showcased Cudlitz’s ability to connect with the character. I don’t want to spoil anyone, but those last two episodes will make your jaw drop. Hopefully, TNT will give us another season of this brilliantly-written show.

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy (Game of Thrones)


Speaking of agony… No one knows pain better than Theon Greyjoy, portrayed by Alfie Allen. This season, Theon finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he becomes a captive of the cruel and sadistic Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon).

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes (Elementary)


You won’t usually find such stellar acting in a crime procedural – let alone good acting – but Jonny Lee Miller performs so well in CBS’s Elementary as the prolific private investigator Sherlock Holmes. It’s episodes like “M” that bring the drama and show that JLM’s interpretation of the famous Sherlock Holmes is truly one of the better ones.

Lennie James as Morgan (The Walking Dead)


Best guest star award would have to go to Lennie James for his appearance in The Walking Dead‘s season 3 episode “Clear”. The episode was shot-for-shot done very well, but James’ acting stood out to me the most – especially his emotional speech to Rick. Like most of the characters on this list, Morgan is someone who’s gone through his fair share of emotional turmoil and agony. Hopefully, the actor will make another appearance next season.

Michael Rooker as Merle (The Walking Dead)


Yes, another actor from The Walking Dead – a recurring one, this time. Don’t get me wrong, though. I didn’t fall in love with Merle, or forget that he’s a racist, murdering, kidnapping psychopath. But the fact that this character became somewhat sympathetic in the eyes of TWD’s audience is a testament to Rooker’s acting capabilities. Even I found myself rooting for Merle in his final moments, surprisingly enough. I mean, when you put him up against The Governor, Merle comes out looking like a saint. I blame Rooker.

William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher (Shameless)


Who can forget William H. Macy as the unreliable patriarch of the Gallagher clan, Frank Gallagher? As much as we all love to despise Frank, Macy completely owns this role. He was even able to bring out some of the nuances to the character in the latest season finale episode. The show left us on a bit of a cliffhanger regarding Frank’s character. We’ll see where he ends up next year.