Quite simply, we applaud the inimitable impact of Glenn Close. In just one season her thrilling, calculated two-step in and out of moral boundaries as power attorney Patty Hewes seized us with awe and utter repulsion. Her performance takes us to places we rather not go, but she steers us with such command we can’t help but follow. Rather than deliver passive entertainment, Close makes us sit up and pay attention, if not only to follow the ever-winding plot, but to keep pace with the delicious nuances she layers into Hewes.
Judy Davis, The Starter Wife, USA Network: The living proof of why an ensemble cast often makes for a better show, Davis was less scene-stealer than scene-enablear. We can’t wait to see how she redefines sobriety this season.
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace, TNT: Oscar winner Hunter owns the body, mind and spirit of Grace Hanadarko. Her passion for playing one of TV’s most complex women has helped redefine the way TV embraces the modern female.
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds, Showtime: We love a character that plays against stereotype, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one who more fits that bill than Parker’s drug-dealing suburban mom Nancy Botwin. The season’s most compelling cliffhanger is news that Botwin may be pregnant.
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer, TNT: With all grit, charm and quirky insecurities, Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson this year continued her reign not only as one of TV’s toughest investigators but one of its most nuanced characters. That she’s an incurable chocoholic is just icing on the cake.