Lana Parilla - Once Upon a Time
When Once Upon a Time announced a reboot that excluded half of its core cast fans were up in arms. Parilla's Regina carried a lot of weight on her shoulders as one of the few returning original cast members. And she wasn't even playing Regina! Instead, she was taking on the role of Ron, a bar owner in the newly cursed town of Hyperion Heights. Yet, despite the curse, Parilla found a way for Roni to embody everything Regina stood for; her heart, her spunk, and her maternal instinct. It's a tall order to make a fandom believe in a new character played by the same actor but Roni never felt like much of a departure from her fairytale alter-ego nor did it feel forced. She swiftly maneuvered between Roni and the Evil Queen and heck, we even came to enjoy the biker tees.
Best Scene: Season 7 Episode 6 - When Drizella gave her back her memories and slowly, Regina began remembering everything about the curse, including who cast it and what it meant for Henry.
Jane the Virgin - Gina Rodriguez
Gina Rodriguez is America's sweetheart and the glue that holds together the phenomenally talented cast of Jane the Virgin. She's a proud Latina woman that makes you laugh through the tears and forces you to feel a range of emotions right along with her. She balances the insanity of the telenovela world with moments of reality that we can all relate to — death, heartbreak, a baby daddy you're not dating. There's such an innocence about a woman who has gone through her fair share of turmoil but still manages to come out on top, exuding positivity and showing her warrior wounds. Her performance in both the present and the flashbacks guarantees that the show will always have heart, even with its penchant for the dramatics.
Best Scene: Season 4 Episode 7 -When she goes on her book tour and is heartbroken by Adam.
Elisabeth Moss - The Handmaid's Tale
I'd agree with Girls co-creator Jenni Konner when she calls Elisabeth Moss the "Meryl Streep of our generation." Moss brought a complex character to life in one of the most socially relevant shows of 2017. Offred was rigid, passionate and much quieter than the other characters, which made her that much more commanding. She helped us understand what these women — with a will to survive, rage and so much trauma — felt and believed when being forced into sexual slavery, thus providing harrowing realization of how the totalitarian regime mistreated women and their bodies.
Best Scene: Season 1 Episode 4 - There were so many powerful moments but the "Ceremony" scene was soul-crushing, especially Offred's empty look right along with the Commanders wife's empty expression.
Aubrey Plaza - Legion
Versatile. Complex. Vulgar. For a series that requires you to use every ounce of brain juice to simply keep up, Plaza's portrayal of the show's multi-personality villain seems rather effortless. The varying versions of Lennie — from quirky friend to monstrous force living inside David Haller — are so deeply frightening, it's almost hard to look away.
Best Scene: Season 1 Episode 6 - The dance scene is the most revealing of the series because we finally get to meet the fully-rounded Lennie. Plaza said it was her hardest scene because it felt like she was playing four characters in one.
Cole Sprouse - Riverdale
The town's murder-mystery obsessed journalist has really grown into his own in season two. Watching Jughead evolve from the "boy living in the closet" to deeply brooding Southside Serpent has been quite delicious. And I'm not just talking about shirtless scenes! While Betty may still refer to him as Juggie, he's long gone. Instead, he's a man that can hold his own, fights for what's his, doesn't hide in the face of fear, and rivals many of the adult characters. He went from reluctantly joining the Serpents to becoming their millennial leader and carving his own path, despite the pushback from his dad.
Best Scene: Season 2 Episode 9 - When he takes matters into his own hands and handles Penny Peabody. That's the grisliest we've ever seen Juggie.
Alexander Skarsgård - Big Little Lies
There's only one word that can be used to describe Skarsgård's role: chilling. The way he personifies Perry is almost as if he's meant for this role —as if he feels the same insecurities and fears of losing Celeste. Skarsgård is able to go from one extreme to the next in a single scene; from deranged to charmingly manipulative, from unhinged to deeply regretful. It's a vicious cycle and one Celeste is so hesitant to break because the good times outweigh the bad. Or so she thinks. I dare say, Skarsgård pulls off the impossible, convincing fans to root for him to overcome his demons and then again convincing us that he's a lost cause.
Best Scene: Season 1 Episode 7 - Before Celeste and Perry arrive at the costume party, he reveals that he knows about her secret apartment and plans to leave. The scene is frightening because Perry seems to shut down, informing her without any emotion in his voice.
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