Ray Mickshaw/FX; Frank Masi/HBO; Mathias Clamer/FX
July 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT

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.

Sarah Paulson

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

It’s all in the eyes. Throughout 10 outstanding episodes, Paulson’s dark-circled peepers portrayed the pain, fatigue, bewilderment, and occasionally triumphant shade of Marcia Clark’s full, real, non-caricatured life. Paulson is a harsh judge of her own work and so far has not watched any of the show. Given the flawless- ness of her performance, she absolutely should.

Kerry Washington

Confirmation (HBO)

Washington’s resting state as an actress is all guts and conviction — so it takes a moment to adjust to the quietude of her Anita Hill. During the film’s Senate hearings, Hill’s nervous voice didn’t sound at all like Olivia Pope. Instead it was halting, and like Washington’s performance, deeply human.

Kirsten Dunst

Fargo (FX)

Magnetic and mischievously comedic, Dunst perfected every shade of colorfully delusional Peggy Blumquist, a hairdresser– cum–hit-and-runner whose naive yet calculating outlook helped her morph from a second-wave feminist to the mastermind of the Midwest’s messiest cover-up.

Steve Dietl/History; Ryan Green/ABC; Suzanne Tenner/FX

Anika Noni Rose

Roots (History)

In this vivid new take on the Alex Haley novel, Rose delivered a moving performance as Kunta Kinte’s daughter, Kizzy, conveying both her strength and her ache from having to bear the weight of her family’s history—and live her own harrowing life as a slave.

Felicity Huffman

American Crime (ABC)

An administrator at an elite prep school, subverting truth, justice, and children for the sake of brand and dollars. A villain, right? But Huffman made Leslie Graham more complicated and poignant, a study of realpolitik, moral murk, and demonized female power in everyday America.

Lady Gaga

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

No one doubted that Lady Gaga, in her first major acting role, could portray the glamour of the Countess, a 100-plus-year- old vampire. But the humanity and sadness she brought to the love-seeking socialite on American Horror Story’s latest installment both surprised and moved.

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