By EW Staff
Updated June 06, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC; David Giesbrecht/Netflix; Mark Schafer/Showtime

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.

Matthew Rhys

The Americans (FX)

Stealing secrets: risky. Being true to yourself? Even riskier. As wiggy KGB agent Philip Jennings, Rhys reached new depths baring himself to the people in his life and undertaking the dangerous business of following his conscience. He’s not just playing an extraordinary character—he’s showing us our American character, right here, right now.

Bob Odenkirk

Better Call Saul (AMC)

The Breaking Bad alum has made the case that attorney Saul Goodman is worthy of his own series, revealing the glory-seeking soul of a man not cut out for by-the-books law. He also rocked some colorful new suits, proving Odenkirk could slip Jimmy effortlessly through light and dark in more ways than one.

Kevin Spacey

House of Cards (Netflix)

This season, Frank Underwood experienced weakness—a surprise to us all. First there was the attempted assassination, and then his dirty, not-so- little secrets were aired. Only Spacey, a complete master of his craft, could make us feel for someone so abhorrent.

Credit: Sarah Shatz/USA Network; Eric Liebowitz/FX; Chuck Hodes/FOX

Dominic West

The Affair (Showtime)

Consider him TV’s best tightrope walker. As Noah Solloway, West tiptoed between being despicable (trying to cheat on Alison now?) and being sympathetic enough that we don’t want to see him in jail. Watching him nimbly bounce through a symphony of emotions was a dizzying delight.

Terrence Howard

Empire (FOX)

Season 2 of the musical hit revealed that Lucious’ mother battled bipolar disorder when he was a child, and Howard was heartbreaking as he showed the seemingly impenetrable CEO grappling with his pained past.

Rami Malek

Mr. Robot (USA)

The pivotal revelation of Mr. Robot’s first season was less a mind-blowing twist than a seismic character moment for Elliot Alderson, the intrepid, socially minded hacker played by Malek. It was the actor’s glassy-eyed devastation in the graveyard scene — not gotcha-style surprises — that elevated the entire series.