By Michael Ausiello
Updated May 27, 2009 at 09:58 PM EDT

Think my job is easy? You try narrowing down the potential nominees for the best supporting actress in a drama Emmy to just six finalists. I could make the case for at least a dozen candidates, but alas, Emmy rules allow for only half that many (I stretched it to a seventh, because I literally could not eliminate any of the women below). And the supporting actor category wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, either. Anyway, you know the drill, voters: Use this list of recommendations as your guide when the balloting process gets underway next week. We’ll see how closely you paid attention when the nods come out on July 16. (Coming up tomorrow: my picks for best lead actor and actress in a comedy and drama.)

Best Supporting Actress (Drama)

* Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights): Episode 8. When her character

realizes she isn’t going to be getting her new dream home. Excitement.

Desperation. Resignation. All in three minutes. She deserves her own


* Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love): It’d be easy to overlook her sunny character as mere comic relief. Easy and wrong.
* Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy): Though the cancer arc tested my

patience, damned if she didn’t sell the material like her life depended

on it. (Memo to Shonda Rhimes: As such, please don’t kill her off.)
* Christina Hendricks (Mad Men): If it takes a strong woman to show her

soft side, this one’s Hercules in heels. Hers is my favorite Mad Men character

by far.
* Alison Pill (In Treatment): As a young cancer patient purging her soul, she was part sad, part inspiring, all perfection.

* CCH Pounder (The Shield): She fought two evil foes (lupus, Mackey) with

fierce determination. If Mackey was this show’s driving force,

Claudette was its secret weapon.
* Chloe Sevigny (Big Love): The sneakier her character got, the more I wanted to give her a hug. Oh, and an Emmy!

Best Supporting Actor (Drama)

* Walton Goggins (The Shield): Right down to his character’s dying breath, he kept us gasping in awe. A mesmerizing performance.

* Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad): Slowly stepping out of Bryan Cranston’s

shadow, he revealed himself to be a powerhouse actor in his own right.

* John Noble (Fringe): You know how the show kinda feels familiar? Well,

there’s nothing familiar about Noble’s kooky, quirky scientist.

* Jeremy Davies (Lost): As the show was nearly swallowed up by mythology, he supplied much of the heart that kept us invested.

* Ryan Kwanten (True Blood): Yes, he’s pretty. He’s also pretty amazing.

(You can argue with me after you’ve played an extended-erection subplot

with the kind of go-for-broke abandon that he did.)

* Jon Voight (24): The acting vet’s challenge: Play a power hungry,

murdering evildoer without coming off as a cartoon. Mission