Watchers on the Wall Awards: Best Leading Actor & Best Leading Actress of Season 8

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Welcome, everyone, to the final round of the 2019 Watchers on the Wall Awards! Every year we celebrate the best of Game of Thrones, as chosen by the fan community. Every year we gather your suggestions for nominees, and after a preliminary round of voting, narrow it down to just five candidates in each category. We’ve finally reached the last step, voting in in the finals, and it’s time to get down to it, choose the biggest winners of season 8!

We’re starting with a pair of important categories- Best Leading Actress and Actor of the year. These are the stars who led the show and their storylines in the last season of Game of Thrones.

The nominees are….

For Best Leading Actor:

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Kit Harington as Jon Snow
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark

The nominees for Best Leading Actress are:

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark

Final round rules: To choose winners, cast your vote in each category in the polls below. In the finals, unlike the preliminaries, fans have one vote to cast in each category. At the end of one week (Friday 11/08/19 at 12PM ET), the performer in each category with the most votes will be the winner! The results of the polls will be revealed during the live Watchers on the Wall Awards ceremony, specific date to be announced in the near future!

Vote for Best Leading Actress:

Vote for Best Leading Actor:

74 responses

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    1. Lena Headey would get my vote if it were for overall leading actress performance in the show – as it is, Sophie Turner will have to get my vote for season 8 although none of them really stood out to me in season 8. But how on earth is Isaac considered a leading actor? That seems quite odd to me. Anyway of the 4 I would have to go with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

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    2. Having a tough time choosing the lead actor category. I think Peter had to carry the most dramatic weight out of the 4 in the last season, but he wins every year and I think NCW or Kit deserve some love too. Gonna have to think about this one a bit more.

      For actress, I chose Emilia Clarke. She had the toughest job out of the other nominees and pulled it off tremendously well. Lena was on auto pilot all season except for her last scene. Sophie was fine, but didn’t have a lot to do compared to others. I think Maisie deserves a nod for her performances in the battle episodes, but I think Emilia had a tougher job overall.

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    3. Emilia, for really giving it her all when it was clear from her “I walked around London in a daze for three hours” comment that she didn’t feel the end of her arc was earned, and NC-W (sorry, Kit) for his brilliant interactions with Gwendoline.

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    4. Voted for NWC and Maisie Williams. I think this may have been NWC’s best season. Same for Maisie. If nothing else, because I can’t remember voting for them before in these final round categories.

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    5. LadyGoodman:
      Emilia, for really giving it her all when it was clear from her “I walked around London in a daze for three hours” comment that she didn’t feel the end of her arc was earned,

      That’s not the reason, lol.

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    6. LadyGoodman:
      Emilia, for really giving it her all when it was clear from her “I walked around London in a daze for three hours” comment that she didn’t feel the end of her arc was earned,

      Yep, and same. Picked Emilia and Nik.

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    7. wow, Isaac, really? Wish Theon was a choice. My choice is between Kit and Peter. Like the gods, I’ll toss a coin. mmmm

      Maisie had the most action, Sansa the most drama, Emilia the biggest arc, Lena unfortunately had little to do this season. not sure which I am going for yet.

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    8. Has to be Emilia and Nikolaj.

      Sophie is an excellent actress but this season she had very little material of any emotional weight whatsoever (the only scene where she really had to act being Theon’s funeral), Maisie did very well as usual but there was nothing extraordinary, and Lena put in a great performance in Episode 5, but that’s all there really was for her.

      Emilia had strong emotional material in every episode and she knocked it out of the park.

      On the men’s side, Isaac and Peter didn’t really have enough strong material to merit a win in my opinion.

      Kit did really well, particularly in Episode 6, but at the end of the day Nikolaj is a better actor in my opinion, and the scene where he knights Brienne is enough for him to get my vote.

      Best scene of the season by a mile, and he did a fantastic job.

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    9. LadyGoodman:
      Emilia, for really giving it her all when it was clear from her “I walked around London in a daze for three hours” comment that she didn’t feel the end of her arc was earned, and NC-W (sorry, Kit) for his brilliant interactions with Gwendoline.

      I completely agree. Well said.

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    10. Shelle,

      Nick20,

      When Richard Madden finished filming the Red Wedding in Belfast, he jumped on a plane and left the city that very night, and even cried on the plane. I guess that clearly means he felt Robb’s death wasn’t earned.

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    11. Isaac was good. It’s really hard to play a person with no personality anymore and still give him some nuance. Especially that “you are a good man” line.

      Alfie was good but he only had 3 scenes.

      Nikolaj was great as always but I don’t remember anything extraordinary. His best acted scene was probably “she is hateful and so am I”.

      Peter showed everything. From dick jokes to dramatic scenes. He was comic relief and emotional core of the season. Scenes when he findes Jaime and Cersei, that great scene with Jon from 806. Both of those scenes. Last scene with Jaime. Scenes with Daenerys in The Bells. Every single moment with him in 802. He really shined this season.

      Lena was great in The Bells. “I don’t want to die” is one of her strongest moments, but she had very limited screentime this year.

      Sophie was good this year. Her best scene is Theon’s funeral. And that scene with Daenerys. And her last scene with Jon was also very good. But I don’t think she was the best this year.

      Maisie was great. One of her stronger seasons. She showed everything really.

      But Emilia was even better. She killed it. “Let it be fear” is probably the best line delivery she ever had the show. That moment when she decided to burn KL is iconic. People will remember it for decades. It’s on pair with that iconic Anakin’s shot from Revenge of the Sith when he turns to the dark side. I have goosebumps when I think of that scene. The world held it’s breath and the coin landed.

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    12. [quote]”When Richard Madden finished filming the Red Wedding in Belfast, he jumped on a plane and left the city that very night, and even cried on the plane. I guess that clearly means he felt Robb’s death wasn’t earned.”[/quote]

      Not the sorrow but the utter shock that Dany’s story could end that way, the asking people “Do you like her? Do you think she’s good? What would turn you against her?” But it’s okay; her “gorgeous fans” do indeed have her back. ^^ #IStandByDaenerys
      Nick20–couldn’t agree more. :3

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    13. mau,

      Same for me, I think Emilia carried this season, particularly the last 3 episodes, I was genuinely impressed by everything she did. In earlier seasons, her serene Queenliness made her a bit too aloof for me, I couldn’t connect with her post S3. But she injected some real emotion this season and it really worked for her.

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    14. LadyGoodman,

      Why do you presume to know what’s in Emilia’s head? Especially when she’s gone on record stating that she stands by Dany’s character arc and accepts it, even when it caught her off-guard?

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    15. Shelle,

      She’s taken part in several candid interviews stating that she accepts the ending of Dany’s arc after all’s said and done. So… you think she’s a liar?

      And before you retort with “oH sHe’S cOnTrAcTuAlLy ObLiGaTeD”, first of all she’s not even contractually obligated to give those interviews, and second, other actors have thrown some shade at their characters in the past – what about their contractual obligations?

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    16. Farimer123,

      Didn’t she say that she stands by Dany, as in her character? She’s said a few times that she was taught to agree with her characters in drama school, and she applies that to Dany. She won’t turn on her because of what she did. This is a pretty good interview with her, she goes through her reaction and her eventual acceptance.

      https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/daenerys-tells-all-game-of-thrones-finale-emilia-clarke-beyonce

      Edit: Oh, you’ve changed your post so this doesn’t make much sense anymore lol, but the interview is still there if anyone is interested.

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    17. Shelle,

      But she didn’t walk aimlessly out of shock, she walked out of sorrow. Here’s one of her quotes, “That was the moment I realized alcohol can also be a depressant. I would be nursing a glass of wine wondering why I wasn’t getting any happier from this.” Regardless, what makes you think Richard Madden wasn’t shocked by his ending as well. I would be surprised if he wasn’t. The point I’m trying to make is people shouldn’t pass their opinions off on others. The cast have been mostly positive about the final season, and we have no reason to think they’re not being honest.

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    18. Jenny,

      Uh yeah, that’s more-or-less what I was saying. She doesn’t try to justify Dany’s actions or anything, but she acknowledges that this was Dany’s arc, written by D&D (and broadly conceived by GRRM), all of whom she trusts wholeheartedly.

      The reason it upset her was not because she didn’t think it was earned, but rather because she knew how much people looked up to her character.

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    19. mau,

      I agree with all of this. Emilia Clarke had her best season yet, and I was seriously deciding between her and Maisie Williams. I eventually went with Maisie, though, because Arya killing the Night King is the scene I’ve rewatched the most.

      I also voted for Peter Dinklage. He was phenomenal this year.

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    20. Mr Derp,

      Actually Peter loses every year this type of fan awards I think. I’m sorry I can’t remember who won these last few years, but just going by the spread feeling more people usually vote for Nikolaj because Peter has won enough Emmys.
      As for this current year, for me Emilia and Peter carried the season and had so much material to work with. The most pivotal moments -Dany’s turn when she hears the bells and Tyrion’s speech for Bran- were very difficult to deliver. I voted for them.

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    21. When I heard that Kit was going up against Richard in the Emmys for lead actor, I thought “no way it’s not even close Richard all the way.”

      But then I rewatched season eight and you know what? Kits acting really stood out to me, like he was legit really good, to the point where it’s actually really close between the two of them.

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    22. They were all brilliant. Like Liam Cunningham always says the words they were given by Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss were beautiful and they were lucky to speak them.

      If I had to choose I’d go Isaac for the men. King Bran the Broken was just brilliant and the way he had to portray all of the heartaches and sorrows with no emotion and then transition into a Broken King was mesmerizing.

      For the females I’d have to go with Emilia. The way she played an overzealous, over confident would be ruler to a grieving and madness descending tyrant was so effortless and brilliant. Runner up would be Sophie. She really grew into the role after all these years and by Season 8 she nailed it. The emotional rollercoaster of seeing Tyrion return to the North with Dany, AeJon parentage reveal, and not being able to witness the impending doom of her arch nemesis Cersei was just brilliant. Her final scenes of declaring independencey for the North and being crowned QitN were beautiful.

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    23. Young Dragon: When Richard Madden finished filming the Red Wedding in Belfast, he jumped on a plane and left the city that very night, and even cried on the plane. I guess that clearly means he felt Robb’s death wasn’t earned.

      I have no idea what the hell you’re on about, but I think it would be best if you and I didn’t discuss things with each other.

      From prior experience, I already know you’re out to be belligerent towards anyone who criticizes the show, and I’m not interested in having pointless arguments with you, as they would only devolve into being uncivil and unproductive.

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    24. Nick20,

      I couldn’t care less about how you feel about the show, but that wasn’t what the original poster was doing. He/she was projecting their own feelings about the show onto someone else, and you agreed with him/her. That is not ok.

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    25. Young Dragon:
      Nick20,

      I couldn’t care less about how you feel about the show, but that wasn’t what the original poster was doing. He/she was projecting their own feelings about the show onto someone else, and you agreed with him/her. That is not ok.

      You obviously do, anytime anyone has anything less than complimentary to say about the show you go after them. Just stop the gatekeeping and let people post their opinions without projecting your feelings onto their opinions or what you think they were trying to say.

      In any case, for this season it has to be Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke for me. On the actor side, I think Peter really separated himself and earned with the final episode. Emilia separated herself from the pack in the final three episodes. Maisie would be my runner up here.

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    26. Mr Derp:
      Having a tough time choosing the lead actor category.I think Peter had to carry the most dramatic weight out of the 4 in the last season, but he wins every year and I think NCW or Kit deserve some love too.Gonna have to think about this one a bit more.

      For actress, I chose Emilia Clarke.She had the toughest job out of the other nominees and pulled it off tremendously well.Lena was on auto pilot all season except for her last scene.Sophie was fine, but didn’t have a lot to do compared to others.I think Maisie deserves a nod for her performances in the battle episodes, but I think Emilia had a tougher job overall.

      I did have to think a little as well on the Actor category.
      I went with NCW. I felt NCW grew the most over the series as an actor between those listed. I know it’s a season 8 award, but I did also have to think about the finale of season 7 when he finally (at the moment anyway) left Cersei to keep his word and travel North. I just thought he’s a very believable actor. You can’t tell he’s acting and he has a good combination of being able to emote through his facial expressions and emoting through his dialogue. Of course his knighting scene in episode 2 was right up there for being his best.

      Peter is always good, but I really only loved one of his scenes in season 8 (When he said farewell to Jaime in the tent and let Jaime free). NCW was part of that scene too. I thought Peter and NCW worked really well together.

      Kit was a bit one note for me. I thought he had a very challenging scene with John Bradley when he found out he was a Targ. I thought John Bradley did a better job and I wish he was up there, but I guess he’s considered supporting actor. John Bradley had great moments during “The Long Night”. I’m thinking of how scared he looked right at the beginning of the episode. And JB’s reaction to Dany and Jorah when he got the news about how Dany flamed his family was a great scene for him. Kit just mainly brooded and looked pained. I did enjoy his scenes with Maisie!

      And Maisie was an easy one for actress for me, but I give honorable mention to Sophie. If they had an award for most improved actress over 10 years, I pick Sophie. I thought she was excellent in season 8 as well as season 7. Maisie was always awesome. Lena just didn’t have enough material in season 8 for me to vote for her.
      She was looking out of a window almost the whole season…

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    27. Jay Targ,

      Go after them? If they give a criticism I don’t agree with, I will give my dissenting opinion, as has happened to me many times before on multiple sites. If you take offense to that, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’ve always felt that if you’re not prepared to defend your argument, maybe you shouldn’t be making such arguments in the first place. And I never projected my feelings on someone else, that is what LadyGoodman did. They obviously had a problem with Dany’s arc, and they tried to make it out that Emilia Clarke felt the same way without any clear evidence that she truly feels that way.

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    28. Kit and Emilia did the outmost of what they were given. Love their work as actors and love them as people too. Really, no competition here for me, it’s only them.

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    29. Headey had nowhere near enough screentime in Season 8 to even count as a lead actress, in my opinion. Turner and Williams were both good, but I don’t think either was given the material to really stand out, at least not in any consistent manner.

      Clarke wins for selling the hell out of what was easily the most character material of the season (whatever you might think of it).

      Among the men, similar to Headey, I wouldn’t call Hempstead-Wright a lead actor. Of the rest, I went with Dinklage, though I think Coster-Waldau had the best individual acting moment.

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    30. Tron79,

      I thought Kit did a great job in season 8, but every time I think of season 8 and Jon, all I can think about is Jon droning on saying “you’ll always be muh queen” like a mindless robot.

      Also gotta give him props for the dragon riding scene. I found it to be a pretty corny scene overall, but one that’s very tough to pull off for an actor. Overall, I just think that Tyrion’s scenes required more range, and NCW just didn’t have enough scenes, so that’s why I went with Peter.

      I thought all the ladies did great too, but like you said, Cersei had very little to do. I thought the same with Sansa. She was fine, but wasn’t required to do anything that stood out over the others.

      I thought Arya was very good in the battle episodes, but I honestly find Arya to be a bit too “one-note” for me. I really like her character, but she’s kind of the same all the time. She always acts like she’s either pissed off or bored.

      I thought Emilia had by far the toughest acting job to pull off, and she pulled it off with flying colors.

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    31. Emilia was an easy one for me. She really shone this season. I didn’t enjoy her acting in the earlier seasons, but she has really developed throughout the series. This season, she had the most challenging material out of any of the other lead actresses and she really rose to the occasion. It’s such a shame Lena was benched this season. I wish we could have had more Cersei. She was fabulous, bewitching, so well played on so many subtle levels. Sophie also grew so much as an actress over the series and this was definitely one of her better ones, but her role didn’t seem too challenging (compared with past material she has had to play) this time around. The scene in the crypts where she and Tyrion exchanged their torturous expression was one of my favourites and the scene where she spills Jon’s secret, the moment right before. With Arya/Maisie, I have to say that I much preferred her younger characterisation/character. The feisty Arya pre-season 5 was one of my favourites and Maisie played her so well (possibly because that was nearer her own sparky personality). I have found post HoB&W Arya quite uninteresting – her monotone, the seriousness – and I think part of the problem is that I don’t feel Maisie plays these as well as she played the more dynamic Arya (unpopular opinion here, I know) – to me, she comes off quite flat in this mode. I liked the scenes where she emoted a lot more – like the scene with Mel during the battle, the scene with Gendry, some of the moments with Sandor. All in all though, it has to be Emilia for me.

      With the best actors I was much more stumped. I can’t really rate Isaac as I have the same issue with him as I have with Maisie. I don’t think he plays the more serious post-White Raven Bran terribly well. It’s an entirely different skill set and I just found him flat. I am a Jon fan through and through and since about season 3, loved Kit’s portrayal of him. I did feel frustrated with his lack of meaningful dialogue this season – his speech at the funeral was really amazing, a few quieter scenes too, but he didn’t get to use the range he’s had in the past few seasons. NCW was good, but I’ve never been enormously moved by his acting. It was between Peter and Kit for me, and I went with Kit, as Peter gets all the awards.

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    32. Went with Kit for his speech in episode 4 funeral scene and his work in episode 6. I choice Sophie more of an achievement award and being happy she was finally crowned.

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    33. I voted for Peter Dinklage and Maisie Williams.

      I think Kit’s performance is underrated by the repetitive lines he had to say. He did really well in some of his scenes. NCW is always good and his scene with Gwen on 8×02 is my favourite in season 8. But I went with Peter. He carried much of the dramatic weight of the last two episodes a. Besides, he never won the WOTW award for Best Actor. He’s a great actor and I think we overlook him a bit because he was much more rewarded by his performance as Tyrion than the other cast members (I agree that Nikolaj and Alfie Allen should be awarded in previous seasons).

      For the actresses, it was a toss up between Maisie and Emilia. Lena and Sophie were fine but they didn’t have that much to do. I think Emilia’s acting sold really well a character’s downfall that will remain controversial and divisive for a long time. Daenerys went through a quick transformation (in my point of view) and her behaviour seemed believable during that process. It was a job well done by Emilia.

      I voted for Maisie, because she was flawless in a portrayal of a character that had a sensible ending. Although I prefer early Arya seasons (the last ones have some great scenes and others not so much), I think Maisie expressed the right nuances. Arya was a hardened person that knew when to have a tough appearance and when to express emotion. Her action parts were also great (oddly, the killing of the Night King was my least favourite action scene of hers in an episode in which she is consistently spectacular).

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    34. Kit and Maisie always.
      Both do such subtle acting with their facial expressions and eyes, especially when they are together. Their scene in the Godswood as she leapt into his arms and when Jon wiped the tear from her face as he was saying good-bye were so full of unspoken emotion that it was totally palpable. Watching Maisie’s face melt and the look of pure innocence as she jumped towards Jon and his fierce hug was completely natural.
      I love all of the nominees for their performances but Kit and Maisie always drew my gaze.

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    35. Leading Actress: Emilia Clarke

      What more can I say about Emilia? She was simply extraordinary. Season 8 was her very best work on the entire show, and her commitment made the tragedy of Daenerys Targaryen all the more heartrending and powerful. As I said on her Curtain Call, she burned an indelible path across the sky from the time she rose in the west to the time she set in the east, and I never wanted to look away.

      Runners-Up (though I dearly love them all):
      2) Maisie Williams
      3) Lena Headey
      4) Sophie Turner

      Leading Actor: Peter Dinklage

      For as richly and justly rewarded as Peter has been at the Emmys, I believe that he has somehow never won a top acting prize from this particular community (encompassing both the days of the old site and here at WOTW). I’d like to see that change here with his final opportunity, and he’s more than worthy of it. I thought Season 8 was one of Tyrion’s best seasons in terms of material, and Peter, as per usual, knocked it several miles out of the park. In particular, his final goodbye with Jaime and his conversation with Jon in the finale were what sealed the deal for me.

      Runners-Up (again, I love them all):
      2) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
      3) Kit Harington
      4) Isaac Hempstead-Wright

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    36. I know the idea that Peter Dinklage has never won the top acting prize from this community is hard to believe at first glance. So for the record, here’s who, to the best of my recollection, has won the Lead Actor and Lead Actress prizes from this community at our annual awards for every season. Full Disclosure: I’m not 100% about Seasons 1 and 2 only because the archives at the old site are a nightmare and Google is not being my friend in this respect, but I’m certain about everything from Season 3 onward (especially since from Season 4 onward, the archives are readily accessible here at WOTW, so all those are confirmed). If one of the mods remembers or has records of the Season 1 and 2 awards that differs from what I have here, please let us know!

      Lead Actor

      Season 1: Sean Bean
      Season 2: Alfie Allen*
      Season 3: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
      Season 4: Rory McCann
      Season 5: Stephen Dillane
      Season 6: Kit Haringon
      Season 7: Kit Harington
      Season 8: TBD

      *This is the one I’m least certain about in my recollection – I just remember checking a few years ago and being shocked that the winner was someone other than Dinklage (though Alfie was obviously phenomenal that year).

      Lead Actress

      Season 1: Maisie Williams
      Season 2: Maisie Williams
      Season 3: Michelle Fairley
      Season 4: Sophie Turner
      Season 5: Lena Headey
      Season 6: Lena Headey
      Season 7: Emilia Clarke
      Season 8: TBD

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    37. There really is no other choice for Female lead other than Emilia Clarke. She was given a character arc that barely supported by the script and story, and told to nail it in 3 episodes, and she hit each mark brilliantly. That shot of her at the gates of Kings Landing while the bells were ringing… In a universe where Game of Thrones earned that, could’ve been one of the most haunting and tragic moments in TV history.

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    38. There isn’t a rum one in the bunch. Frustrated as I am of Peter being the only Emmy winner, he had a genuinely outstanding season. His rhetorical flourishes as he out-talked everyone were brilliant. I can vote for no one but him.

      Picking one of the four actresses was harder. For one thing, only Emilia had a truly star role, and she was splendid. IMO she showed true range for the first time. Her vulnerability was heartbreaking. But once she gave the Hitler speech, she lost me. The great Lena had too little screentime, and Sophie had less than usual. I’m tired of Sansa’s undermining shtick. I didn’t knee-jerk for Maisie., but honestly this was the first time since Series 4 that I thought she carried a season. It wasn’t just her challenging action scenes, but the brief glimpses of young and conflicted Arya that made her performance for me. From her being our eyewitness in the opening scene to her being eyewitness to the horrors during Dany’s Inferno–she was front and center a great deal. Her “Thank you, Sandor” and the acceptance of the White Horse…moved me to tears. So Maisie it was.

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    39. Obviously EC can’t come out with “I don’t believe Daenerys would’ve done this, what a crock,” but I know she loves the character as much as her fans do, and Dany means even more to her than to us. I can’t believe she’d truly be okay with having had to play an entirely new person for the last episode-and-a-half for no clear, justifiable reason. Madden would’ve been shocked by Robb’s death, naturally, but he got murdered at a wedding for perfectly sensible & logical reasons. He didn’t suddenly undergo a bafflingly dramatic change of personality/philosophy/goals before being killed by the one he loved most. Although I clearly despised Daenerys’ ending, I’d have to give the award to Emilia for selling it the best anybody could.
      Lena would’ve been deserving of a win for one of her prior nominations. But up against the other 3 here for S8, they really didn’t give her enough to do; her final scene was the best just in terms of seeing her act. I suppose Maisie would be the runner-up, though Sophie did improve. For the guys, Isaac is the first elimination…Kit was good but not the best…Peter did his usual fine job with what he was given, but I had wanted to see Nikolaj take the Emmy instead of him yet again, so the toss-up between those two landed in Nik’s favor. Tried not to let my disgust with all of these characters’ actions or arcs in the final season affect the evaluation of the acting. ;p

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    40. Shelle:
      Obviously EC can’t come out with “I don’t believe Daenerys would’ve done this, what a crock,” but I know she loves the character as much as her fans do, and Dany means even more to her than to us. I can’t believe she’d truly be okay with having had to play an entirely new person for the last episode-and-a-half for no clear, justifiable reason. Madden would’ve been shocked by Robb’s death, naturally, but he got murdered at a wedding for perfectly sensible & logical reasons. He didn’t suddenly undergo a bafflingly dramatic change of personality/philosophy/goals before being killed by the one he loved most. Although I clearly despised Daenerys’ ending, I’d have to give the award to Emilia for selling it the best anybody could.
      Lena would’ve been deserving of a win for one of her prior nominations. But up against the other 3 here for S8, they really didn’t give her enough to do; her final scene was the best just in terms of seeing her act. I suppose Maisie would be the runner-up, though Sophie did improve. For the guys, Isaac is the first elimination…Kit was good but not the best…Peter did his usual fine job with what he was given, but I had wanted to see Nikolaj take the Emmy instead of him yet again, so the toss-up between those two landed in Nik’s favor. Tried not to let my disgust with all of these characters’ actions or arcs in the final season affect the evaluation of the acting. ;p

      Dany’s turn was brilliantly written. Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss even had Emilia look a certain way and say things a certain way in earlier seasons to plant the seeds. She lost so much over the course of 7 episodes (Viserion, North not accepting her even when she put herself and her armies at risk, Jorah, Rhaegal, Varys betrayal, Jon not being able to reciprocate the same love back, Missandei) that the descent into madness was beautiful to watch.

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    41. Jared,

      Seriously, Peter not winning for season 2 is shocking, even more than for four, because if you want to rewatch Tyrion at his best you just need to watch Blackwater. That episode encapsulates anything great about the character: his humour, his bravery, his wit, his mind, his good heart, his leadership. What I find interesting is that Peter won three Emmys for three of the four seasons where his character went from smartest ever to dumbest ever according to some fans.

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    42. Jack Bauer 24,

      I agree and there were signs of Dany being mad since the first few episodes. One was the way she reacted to Viserys death there was zero empathy in her reaction and that was definitely d and d telling her she needs to react that way. In my opinion people choose to ignore those signs in favor of what they wanted Dany to be. And I believe she is only a footnote on the history of the fall and rise of house stark, which I believe the starks are the heart of the story.

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    43. Jared,

      Yeah. Peter was always underrated in the fandom. Maybe because general audience, critics and industry loved him so much.

      He is the best actor in the show. Always was.

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    44. Farimer123:
      LadyGoodman,

      Why do you presume to know what’s in Emilia’s head? Especially when she’s gone on record stating that she stands by Dany’s character arc and accepts it, even when it caught her off-guard?

      I really didn’t presume anything. Deduced from her many statements, perhaps. The quote I paraphrased was widely reported, including on this site. Happy, satisfied people don’t say “”It might as well have been raining and I would’ve just walked in it not knowing what to do,.

      She gave a fantastic performance even though, in her own words, she didn’t know what to do with the end of her story – I stand by that assessment!

      Funny, because I was never on Team Dany – precisely because she had the temperament of an imperious conqueror from season 1! Her arc is exactly where I expected it to end.

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    45. Nikolaj and Maisie. I wish I could choose Emilia and Lena for some other awards. And Peter… I love Peter, but too many Emmys as compared to the other brilliant members of the cast made me unable to vote for him.

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    46. This season? NCW hands down. I had a little trouble choosing between Maisie and Emilia, because Emilia gave her strongest performance by far this season. Had to go with Maisie because of her strong balance between traditional and physical acting. The girl is the real deal. Props to Kit Harrington too, on that front.

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    47. There are so many objective and subjective reasons to choose one over the other, especially when they are all so good and have uneven screentime, dialogs, and character constraints…
      So, because such stills is what remains for me of a film years later in my memory, I’ll go with the two silent images of an actor that keep haunting me when I think of season 8: Dany’s look just before she decides to burn KL to the ground, and Jon’s light smile as he heads towards the wild North. Which, I realize, may be, respectively, some fire turning my blood into ice, and some warmth amidst the ice.
      Anyway, it’s Emilia and Kit for me this time.

      (My next ones would be Sansa’s face as she pins a wolf on Theon’s chest at the pyre., and Jaimie’s one as he arrives at Winterfell and spots Bran: my silver medal for Sophie and Nikolaj! I was not as strongly impressed by Maisie’s and Peter’s acting as I was in former seasons, so, this time, they would only receive bronze from me)

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    48. LadyGoodman,

      I mean she was simply upset that the show was over and that Danerys didn’t make it. Richard Madden had a similar reaction. Emilia Clarke has given many interviews praising the direction the show has taken with her character. You can say she’s lying, but the only evidence you have is that her opinion doesn’t reflect your own. That makes you sound petty.

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    49. Leading Actor: Kit Harington

      This was a difficult one for me. Peter always gets the best material and I loved all the Jaime/Brienne scenes this season (particularly those in 802 & 804) but ultimately I decided to vote for Kit. I remember watching the final episode and thinking how amazing his performance was. There was so much he had to live up to this season and he completely nailed it. The scene in the Throne Room and the eulogy speech were particular highlights.

      Leading Actress: Emilia Clarke

      Arya is my favorite character and I adore Maisie, Sophie has completely turned me around on Sansa, and Lena’s performance has never been anything less than flawless. That said, I voted for Emilia because she was just completely the Dragon Queen this season. The conflict between Dany and Daenerys that I read in the books was totally present and her performance was the best I have ever seen it.

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    50. Jared,

      wow I don’t remember Maisie winning in season 1and 2 but given what she showed us, Im not surprised! Thanks for that list, btw!

      Ok Im going with Emilia, and Peter, for all the reasons everyone is giving.

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    51. Stark Raven’ Rad:

      …. I didn’t knee-jerk for Maisie., but honestly this was the first time since Series 4 that I thought she carried a season.It wasn’t just her challenging action scenes, but the brief glimpses of young and conflicted Arya that made her performance for me. From her being our eyewitness in the opening scene to her being eyewitness to the horrors during Dany’s Inferno–she was front and center a great deal. Her “Sandor, thank you” and the acceptance of the White Horse…moved me to tears. So Maisie it was.

      “Sandor… Thank you.”
      at 1:16 – 1:27

      (But look at Arya’s face at 0:59 – 1:15… MW is so good!)

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    52. Jack Bauer 24: Dany’s turn was brilliantly written.Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss even had Emilia look a certain way and say things a certain way in earlier seasons to plant the seeds. She lost so much over the course of 7 episodes (Viserion, North not accepting her even when she put herself and her armies at risk, Jorah, Rhaegal, Varys betrayal, Jon not being able to reciprocate the same love back, Missandei) that the descent into madness was beautiful to watch.

      Mmhmm, okay. It was a ton of loss, but this is a woman whose inner strength and faith in herself could get her through anything without losing her whole self the way she did, and needing to be put down like a mad dog. If I’m ever gonna see the supposed “beauty” in this it’ll have to be developed better over time.
      Viserys’ death, don’t make me laugh…if I had a brother like that I’d react the same way to him getting his just desserts. Nothing remotely indicative of “madness potential” there. The Starks may be at the very heart of GRRM’s story, but Daenerys was one of the primary faces of the show and likely the most beloved character. Far as I’m now concerned, the Starks can go jump off a cliff. (Or be yeeted off in Bran’s case. And especially Sansa. xp)
      Pretending that “EC was just sad that the show was over and Dany didn’t make it”…I could never do that, it’s beyond laughable. She knew it was ending and her chance of survival was 50/50 at best. It was virtually guaranteed that she wouldn’t wind up on the throne with a “happy ending.” But they kinda forgot the sweet and overdosed on bitter.

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    53. Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage.

      Love NCW and his work in S8, but I feel like S6 and S7 were overall stronger for him.

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    54. Regardless if you liked what happened this season or not, Emilia Clarke did an amazing job… she really sold the going mad thing…

      Like the way I felt for dany after was: she is not evil she is mad… not that I agree with what she did..

      Joffrey/Ramsay are evil.. Dany just went mad.. her intentions were still to save everyone (when she was talking to Jon)

      Anyway Emila did so amazing.

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    55. The ladies: hard choice, I seriously considered all 4.

      Emilia brought a unique intensity to the Dany character, the single minded and ultimately destructive self-belief blazed from her in a way that went far beyond mere credibility. It was that immersive depth of character portrayal, not just her looks, that made her the visual icon of GOT – for us males at least.

      Sophie Turner’s Sansa portrayed brilliantly the collision of teenage naïveté with the ruthless, Byzantine and dangerous world of the royal politics of an enemy house. On one level retreating terrified into a role-playing shell, on another learning and acquiring weapons of her own. Spectacular death of childhood. GOT took film portrayal of human evil to an entirely new place, and Sophie T was a significant part of that.

      Maisie’s Arya was the most physically challenging of the female lead roles, which she nailed as a perhaps surprising cinematic gymnast. The wild spirit Arya blazed fiercely through Maisie’s bright eyes, resulting in the irresistible popularity of her character. Even the winds of pubescence never unbalanced her superbly acted part – instead they only enhanced it.

      My vote however went to Lena Headey’s chillingly human Cersei. From the very start of the first series the shockingly vivid evil of her character was for many the thing that hooked us on GOT. First maybe just wanting her character – and the equally brilliantly played Jaime – to suffer and die (let’s admit it!) But then the GOT schooled us in the ambiguity of our own moral judgements. Cersei is a victim of cruelly unrequited love and royal politics and the resulting monster – though showing glimpses of humanity, is ultimately (though not inevitably) irredeemable. For me BTW Cersei is not the most horrible character of GOT, nor even Joffrey – but Robert Baratheon. Headey’s Cersei was more than merely the husky sadistic trash-talking voice that made your blood freeze. There was a great dynamic range of emotions and also expertly portrayed inner management of her reactions to situations. Her face was worked brilliantly to depict her continual battle not to allow the violent externalities she encountered to disturb or agitate the murderous amoral absolute zero of her inner space. Not, at least, until the very end when the roof started falling in, that inner steely calm disintegrated and she became pathetic at her death. (Yet serene again when Tyrion found them.) All understood and portrayed superbly. An outstanding performance even by GOT standards.

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