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For Your Consideration: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series

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Byron Cohen/FX; Paul Schiraldi/Courtesy of HBO; Chris Large/FX

This year EW is here to help with our first-ever For Your Consideration issue. We have curated the bajillion shows and performances (give or take a million) eligible for Emmy nominations to help voters select their top picks. Consider this a sneak peek into the nomination process and an early guide to the awards, which air Sept. 18 on ABC.

Courtney B. Vance

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

Vance was the embodiment of suaveness and personality as O.J. Simpson’s silk-smooth lawyer Johnnie Cochran. His charisma was incandescent, but it was in the unexpected scenes—such as the character’s tearful reaction to Bill Clinton speaking about race—that we got a glimpse of the man’s lavish, complex soul.

Oscar Isaac

Show Me a Hero (HBO)

Brilliantly conveying the full evolution of Yonkers, N.Y., mayor Nick Wasicsko from his beginnings as a wide-eyed politician to his final days as a hardened vet, Isaac made it impossible not to care about a guy who might not have been a hero but really, truly tried.

Patrick Wilson

Fargo (FX)

Cruel and quirky bad guys get all the love, but Wilson made it cool to be good again. His younger version of state trooper Lou Solverson (played by Keith Carradine in season 1) was a winsome, irony-free portrait of resolute, humble heroism, and man, did he rock the uniform.

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO; Des Willie/AMC; Ryan Green/ABC

Bryan Cranston

All the Way (HBO)

Cranston needs no Emmys. His mantel already holds four for Breaking Bad, yet he deserves a fifth for transforming into Lyndon B. Johnson. Exuding complex psychology through every glance, gesture, smirk, and bullying bark, Cranston produces a monumental deconstruction of the man.

Tom Hiddleston

The Night Manager (AMC)

Soldier-turned-hotelier-turned-spy Jonathan Pine was nine realms away from Hiddleston’s role as Loki and showed off a very different side of the actor. As he layered false identities on top of cover stories, Hiddleston’s body language shifted so subtly that even we didn’t know who he was for sure.

Timothy Hutton

American Crime (ABC)

As high school basketball coach Dan Sullivan, Hutton tried to keep his team (and his reputation) intact after the athletes were involved in a sexual-assault scandal. The quiet rage Hutton displayed, especially as his own family is implicated, revealed a man pushed to his limits.