5. Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches)
Diana Bishop is an incredibly strong, intelligent and loving character. Thrust into danger with power awakening inside her, Diana overcomes past fears and denials as she learns to embrace the extraordinary magic within her, subsequently awakening a fierce strength as well. While falling deeply in love illuminates all of these qualities tenfold. And Palmer showcased all of these qualities with grace, nuance and beauty. She maintained an authentic balance of fierce confidence are understandable fears and it was lovely to watch.
4. Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Susie is tough as nails, brash and harsh with just about everyone. It would be easy to come off as a one note character. But there is more to this character and Borstein showcases the layers to her character so well, most especially in moments where we see how much she cares about Midge, and when others show true care and affection towards her. When her fellow workers in the Catskills shower her with love and relief after believing she had been missing, you both laugh and are touched watching a woman who clearly had not experienced many moments like this. Borstein perfectly portrays a woman who doesn’t always know how to show or accept affection, but its meaning is not lost on her. It’s written all over her face.
3. Melissa Roxburgh (Manifest)
Michaela Stone boarded Flight 828 unsure of her future, wracked with guilt over a car accident that resulted in her friend’s death, but with her brother’s advice and her mother’s unfailing love and wisdom in her ears. She departed the plane feeling more hopeful and ready to accept her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, only to have that all come crashing down learning that not only have 5 years have passed, but her mother has passed away, and her boyfriend had married her best friend. Heartbreak is then met with strange voices and callings and dangers abound. Through it all Roxburgh has showcased Michaela’s heartbreak, anger, confusion, and determination to find her place and inner strength with grace and authenticity. Her performance is indeed one of the show’s finest aspects.
2. Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Miriam Maisel is a witty, effervescent, strong, intelligent, caring, verbose, beautiful, incredible and dynamic woman and it takes a brilliant performer to portray such a dynamic character. Brosnahan more than accomplishes this task. She has a radiant presence that is also very grounded in moments where Miriam is standing up for herself in a male dominated profession, when she falters when dealing with her father’s knowledge of her stand-up, and dealing with a turning point in her life professionally and personally. Midge Maisel is a realistic, marvelous gal we all can relate to and aspire to be like and it’s due to Brosnahan’s wonderful performance.
1. Mandy Moore (This Is Us)
Many Moore is an incredible talent, whom I have been a fan since the beginning of her career. And it’s been a true joy and honor to bot only watch her continue to grow as a performer but also achieve great success. In This is Us, Moore is given the chance to shine and showcase her tremendous range and abilities. In 2018, we saw these exemplary talents on full display throughout many stages of Rebecca’s life:as a young and hopeful ingénue, falling in love, a happy wife, supportive mother, and grieving widow. The latter gave us the most devastating moment and brilliant performance of this season (perhaps even series) when the knowledge that Jack has died becomes reality when she walks into that hospital room and the camera focuses only on her. We feel every blinking moment of disbelief, every breath, and every tear, and cry of devastation. She gives a deeply affecting performance in her moments of grief, but beautifully balances those with soft moments of brave vulnerability and tender understanding, with countless members of her family. Moore’s performance is a exquisite balance of quiet beauty and authentic fierceness and an absolute wonder to watch.
Special Recognition: Amber Stevens West (Happy Together)
As Claire, Stevens West is bright and lovely, funny and sweet, a wonderful scene partner for Wayans Jr. and undeniably and effortlessly likable. Sitcom characters can often feel unrealistic but Stevens West brings a kind of natural grace and warmth that makes Claire feel real and relatable.
5. Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Together)
Not many performers can make me laugh as much, and indeed smile as much, as Wayans Jr. Always the scene stealer in Happy Endings and New Girl, as Jake in Happy Together, he infuses each scene with the same natural charm, hilarity, and sweetness now as the leading man, which greatly pleases me. It is so easy to love his performance bringing forth age old idea how laughter is truly infectious.
4. Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Shalhoub has always been brilliant in my humble opinion, most especially as the OCD detective Adrian Monk. I was so pleased see him grace our screens again, in a completely different sort of role. A sort of long suffering, straight as an arrow, loving, but not without his quirks or strong opinions that go against what a modern audience, would deem right. And Shalhoub manages to make not only Abe Weisman lovable, but real and empathetic. Most especially in Season 2, when Abe’s wife leaves without him noticing, he discovers his daughter’s stand up, and has tribulations with his new job he is forced to re-examine his life and viewpoints and comes out all the better for it. Shalhoub is absolutely wonderful and provides some of Mrs. Maisel’s finest moments in 2018.
3. Josh Dallas (Manifest)
Forever in as our hearts as Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time, #CharmAttacks may not happen as much, but 2018 brought back Dallas to our screens in a dynamic and most welcome way- in a different kind of role, though with some humorous similarities (time jumps and not aging), with much more serious, darker and mysterious material. Ben Stone is a loving husband, father and brother, who loses 5 years with his family, who grieved and moved on when they believed him to be dead. He finds himself “replaced” somewhat by another man with his wife and daughter, is trying to wrap his head around the strange callings he and fellow passengers share and tirelessly wants to discover the truth behind the underlying government conspiracy that won’t leave them be. He only wants to protect his family and is pulled in every direction imaginable. We knew Dallas could portray a loving father beautifully, and this continues on Manifest as a very rational man who doesn’t hesitate to take action. Dallas’s performance is strong and stalwart with a quiet and melancholy vulnerability, and like Roxburgh’s performance, one of the finest attribute’s to Manifest.
2. Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Ventimiglia has always portrayed Jack Pearson brilliantly, and 2018 was no different and in fact, showcased some of his finest work as we finally saw the cause of Jack’s untimely death, as well as learning more about the root of his need to protect others- it stems from protecting his younger brother at an early age from his abusive father, going well into adulthood when said brother is drafted into the Vietnam War. The combination of the new and illuminating, and very different look at a part of Jack’s life with the looks at his early love story with Rebecca and unconditional support of his children provided quite the poignant drama, made every so moving by the warmth, nuance and quiet strength in Ventimiglia’s performance.
1. Matthew Goode (A Discovery of Witches)
Goode is a performer I have loved for years in both film and television, with Leap Year and Downton Abbey being two personal favorites. As the centuries old Matthew Clairmont, the brooding but passionate, strong and enigmatic vampire, Goode feels tailor made for the role and portrays his character as if it was written specifically for him- as is he is literally leaping of the page and onto our screens to give us chills and capture our hearts. Clairmont may be immortal, but what Goode brings to the part is undeniably human. He must be at times mysterious and dangerous and others times gentle and romantic. It’s a delicate balance but Goode brings charisma, warmth, and nuance brilliantly creating a captivating character and perfect partner in a love story of epic proportions. He is invigorating to watch.
Special Recognition: Andrew J. West (Once Upon a Time)
It was a tall order to fill the shoes of an established character but now as a grown adult, and although the storyline was not perfect, West’s performance was admirable as it is clear he both studied Jared Gilmore’s performance as Henry in order to maintain the feel for the character, while bringing his own maturity and warmth. It helped to create a seamless transition and this is to be admired.
3. The Series of Unfortunate Events Cast
What can I say about the cast of this unique series except that I never want to look away from such exceptional talent and we all out fortunate to witness this story unfold in such extraordinary hands. They all manage to bring levity to the serious, heart and pathos to the absurd and move and excite us with each tantalizing episode. Neil Patrick Harris is a true master of disguise as Count Olaf and it is a truly masterful performance while the Baudelaire siblings Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Pressley Smith bring so much heart and inspiration to the children who must employ their wits and bravery in this perpetual series of unfortunate events in their lives.
2. The Good Place Cast
The most unusual mix of characters continue to delight and move us in this colorful, absurd and yet grounded series about the afterlife and what it means to be human and every single person brings their own form of humor and charm, each with defining characteristics, so much so that while this is for the entire cast we must take special note of D’arcy Carden who as Janet performed an episode where this entity embodied every single character and embodied their speech patterns, mannerisms so spot on that it felt like you were actually watching them. It was incredible! But indeed, Kristen Bell is a riot as the guarded and tough but deep down vulnerable Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi makes his indecisiveness endearing instead of frustrating, Jameela Jamil’s Tahani seems out of touch and snobbish, but is hilariously endearing as we see her insecurities and good heart shine through, Manny Jacinto as the dim but sweet natured Jason is undeniably likable, and the incomparable Ted Danson makes a demon feel like the most innocent creature in the universe in what may be my favorite performance of his career. The show is called The Good Place, but the cast is absolutely Great!
1. The Timeless Cast
In the final season of the time traveling series, every single person shined and played a significant part in the plot of the last episodes, but each performance also helped make their respective characters and indeed the show its remarkable self- so much so that they all must be recognized. Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey, Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnjic, and Annie Wersching were all incredibly powerful performers, knowing when to give and take with their scene partners, show the proper range of emotion from fear to delight to regret and hope. A show is only as good as the actors who breathe life into the written words, and this cast made a story out of time and space always remain firmly on the ground and still make us believe in a possible future. We laugh and cried and rooted for the end of Rittenhouse and for our Time team to not only save the day but find love, salvation and happiness. And these performers created indelibly timeless performances.
Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time)
Could the fairy tale series really close the last page of its storybook without once again seeing the characters whose journey started it all? Thankfully, that answer was an unequivocal no and we once again saw Emma Swan and her parents Snow White and Prince Charming. And when we saw each character both re-appear and we took our last look at these iconic characters I have no doubt each audience member leapt from their seats, smiled and then wiped away a few tears. The show would not have been its magical self without them so it’s only fitting they provided beautiful, significant and heartwarming moments that made the series end what it should be: a final showcase of adventure, love, and hope.
Use of Music:
2. “The Good Queen” and “Leaving Storybrooke”- Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor, Michael D. Simon (Once Upon a Time)
The music of the fairy tale show has always been one of the consistently beautiful and most universally loved part of the series, and in the final episode, that proved no different. In particular, the final two music queues were not only gorgeous but moving in the way they reflected what was on screen, but also brought back some of the show’s most beautiful and steadfast musical themes in new variations. The beginning of “The Good Queen” was light, lovely and regal, but I opening admit to bursting into tears when Emma and Killian’s appearance brought forth a final and triumphant variation on “Emma’s theme” followed by an exquisitely light and jovial variation of Emma’s and Killian’s theme meant to be for their baby Hope. And “Leaving Storybrooke” was a touching tribute to everything that came before and a final bow to this show, it’s sleepy little town and its inhabitants who came to mean so much to us hearing the “Storybrooke,” “Snow and Charming,” and “True Love” themes in new and lovely ways. These final moments were made ever more beautiful by the perfect musical ending.
1. “Time After Time”- Joseph William Morgan (Timeless)
Not only is the cover of this 80’s song perfect in the beautiful, melancholy and yet hopeful tone, but it also brings so much to scenes that would be already emotional from the images alone. Moreover, the song is the ideal choice to encapsulate what the show and the characters have been through. Yes the time travel aspect seems an obvious connection. But it’s more than that. The lyrics to the song reflect not only how they felt in their adventures through time, but how they all came to mean something profound to each other.”Caught up in circles/Confusion is nothing new/Flashback, warm nights/Almost left behind/Suitcases of memories/Time after Time/ If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me/Time after time/If you fall I will catch you/I will be waiting/Time after time.”These lyrics are a gorgeous reflection of what the “Time Team” is. Through all the confusion and nearly losing one another, they will always be there to catch each other if they fall, in love and friendship, time and time again. Always.
2. The Baudelaire Children (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
As I wrote in the 2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year, when you watch the story of the Baudelaire orphans “you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well. The three all have their special strengths that they utilize as they continuously must escape the clutches of Count Olaf surrounded by people who will not always listen, while trying to maintain their own courage, faith and humanity.” In the second season they face darker and darker times and encounter some of the most dangerous, and unfortunate events yet, and while things grow more murky and the children struggle to keep their hope, they manage to remember that there can be people who are altruistic and generous, that bravery may be difficult but not impossible, and to cling to each other because the bond of the family who truly love you is unbreakable.
1. The Time Team (Timeless)
Although Season 2 may have featured a little less of the Season 1 “Time Team” in fact the still employed them a great deal. That is because the time team became more than a trio as the fight to take down Rittenhouse not only included Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus but now expanded to include fellow scientist Jiya, inventor Conor Mason, Agent Christopher, and former enemy Garcia Flynn, all working together and proving that heroism and salvation is never impossible and that family is not only defined by blood, but by those who we are willing to give our blood for.
5. Randall and Beth Pearson (This is Us)
Although 2018 brought some unanswered questions and angst to the couple, Randall and Beth remain a beautiful example of a healthy, supportive and communicative relationship. They also have their fair share of romantic and oh so cute moments that show a real sweetness and understanding between the two. They are best friends who are crazy about each other and who wouldn’t want to aspire to that.
4. Jake and Claire (Happy Together)
Another absolutely adorable couple who clearly are each other’s best friends, what make Jake and Claire such a joy to watch is not only the natural chemistry between the actors, but the way they fit together so well. They share similarities and differences that balance each other and bring out the best in each other. They also just bring so much humor and warmth to our screens.
3. Lucy Preston and Wyatt Logan (Timeless)
Every since The Pilot and Wyatt helped Lucy with her seat belt and called her ma’am, I just knew that we would be in for a great story. And while 2018 brought them turmoil, sadness and drama, after they finally admitted how much they mean to each other, the year ended with one final mission and coming together with forgiveness and true love. There may have been other’s they cared for, but for Lucy and Wyatt the only one they truly want to spend their lives with is each other. They found a family through their time travel adventures, and their love created one that honored those they lost. It was a beautiful to watch their love story reach its happy end.
2. Rebecca and Jack Pearson (This Is Us)
A unique aspect of This Is Us is seeing all of these characters and relationships at different stages of their lives. In 2018 we saw Rebecca and Jack at multiple ones, the most significant being when they first met and fell in love and when a fire resulted in Jack’s tragic death. It resulted in a wide spectrum of emotion not only for the characters but the audience as well as this couple proved to be the epitome of devotion, understanding and profound love. Moreover, what was beautiful to watch was the magical mystery of finding the one who is truly meant for you- an instant connection filled with both passion and sweetness, bringing forth feelings you have never felt before. Rebecca was able to find some form of happiness in her later life, but Jack and Rebecca were the love of each other’s lives- and that kind of love lasts forever.
1. Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont (A Discovery of Witches)
A destined love story that can bring together people who were have always been on opposite sides, and one filled with passion, danger, tenderness, and beauty on epic proportions and quiet moments of real connection- that is the love story between Diana and Matthew that is part Shakespearean and part supernatural but all together lovely and mystical. The chemistry between the actors is palpable and a significant part of what makes this couple one of the greatest to grace our screens in years, along with the exquisite showcase of the way love makes us stronger and ignites our very souls.
and lastly, because I would never fail to include them if I could, with a tie for the top spot…
1. Emma Swan and Killian Jones (Once Upon a Time)
Their moments on screen together in 2018 may have been ever brief, but they were still was infused with the same radiance as moments with this exquisite couple of fairy tale beauty and relatable modernity always are. That is because a mere few moments with them shine brighter than all the stars that aligned that brought them together. In these moments they arrived late to a coronation dressed to the nines in true Emma and Killian fashion, with some wonderful additions- Killian in traditional pirate garb with a pink protector on his hook and Emma’s red jacket over a soft pink gown, a diaper bag thrown over her arm. That was because the most important addition for this couple was their baby daughter Hope, as well as a glow of happiness from another happy beginning. With simplicity and beauty and showcasing what makes them so special, in their last appearance on screen, Emma and Killian proved once again to be one of the finest couples to ever grace our screens.
Special Recognition: Max tells DJ about Missing His Dad (Fuller House)
If there was one thing I thought that had not been touched upon enough in the first seasons of Fuller House it was how the death of their father affected the Fuller children. So I was pleasantly surprised that in perhaps the most touching moment of the series we see the middle child Max express how seeing other children with their fathers waiting to see Santa Claus brought out feelings that he had buried a great deal, and that he really misses him. Young Elias Harger is mostly giving sassy one liners, but this young boy has the ability to do more and I hope we see more grounded moments like this in the future.
5. Abe Weismann sees daughter Miriam performing stand up (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Some of the best moments of the second season of Mrs. Maisel came from the incomparable Tony Shalhoub’s Abe Weisman, most especially when he sees his daughter perform her stand-up comedy show. The first came as a complete shock to him and his daughter when he unexpectedly sees her take the stage at a club in the Catskills, and finds himself shocked, angry and confused. The second is when Midge performs on a telethon and as he hears laughter coming from a nearby apartment and he sees a young couple watching her, laughing at her performance. And there is this beautiful moment of recognition of not only her talent and the joy she is bringing to others, but that he may have been wrong in judging her. There is no doubt a long road still ahead, but this was a wonderful first step in their relationship.
4. Rebecca sings and Jack cries (This is Us)
In an episodes that shows the couple taking a road trip and slowly and surely falling in love, the final scene is a truly moving moment that showcased why these two souls were meant to be together. Earlier on their trip the two danced and Jack revealed that he never cried as he had to learn to bury his emotions when dealing with his father, while Rebecca went to a music producer full of hope that they may sign her to a record deal. When he picks up her, disappointed that her trip proved fruitless, we see that it did not for they had bonded and connected in a way that has changed their lives forever. As he called her “Bec,” something she had never been called that fell off his tongue naturally, he asks to hear her song. And while her insecurities are still fresh, she begins to sweetly sing her song, and Jack is so moved that tears fall from his eyes. This was the moment that was the end of life as they knew it. And that it came from something as simple as a song and few tears shed from a heart being touched is simply beautiful.
3. Matthew and Diana pledge their love for each other (A Discovery of Witches)
It did not take long for this witch and vampire to fall in love and when they did, they fell completely and deeply, forging an unbreakable bond- and two lovely moments epitomized this bond, the gravity of what they meant seen through the brilliant chemistry between Goode and Palmer and the aesthetics and specific aspects of their scenes. In the first, Matthew kisses her deeply for the first time after she recuperated from an overwhelming use of her magic, letting her know his feelings through his kiss and his action of taking her hand as they head to his home for safety. The second is when they undeniably express their love for one another, Matthew coming back to her and pledging that from that moment one they shall be one, intertwining their hands together and capturing her lips in a ardent kiss. It was an exquisite expression of love and devotion that only the finest performances and film making can accomplish.
2. A Final Mission/Montage (Timeless)
When the series finale jumped ahead to see what the future held for the Time Team family, it was filled with heartfelt and moving moments from seeing how far Rufus and Jiya have gone in their careers, still happy and in love, to Lucy and Wyatt, happily married, living their best lives career wise and with twins named Amy and Flynn. How could one not shed tears over this. But it was their final mission to make sure Flynn still went on his journey in the same way- and yet it’s different, for there is more hope there. And as the musical montage began it was utter perfection. As said in the 2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year, ” The show’s ending montage set to Joseph William Morgan’s cover of the song “Time After Time” resulted in many a tear, as we watched the beautiful journey of all of these characters through time: The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists , inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes. This moment was a exquisite showcase of what makes this show so profound, special, and above all Timeless.”
1. Emma and Killian’s happy ending with daughter Hope (Once Upon a Time)
In the final episode of the series, it was only fitting that much of the centerpiece of its final moments focused on the character whose journey started it all. Emma Swan and her husband Killian Jones may have gotten their happy beginning at the end of the previous season, but the show could not end with seeing their happy ending, as it not only encapsulates the end of an exquisite fairy tale but also what the show has always embodied. For it is ever apropos for two characters who found True Love and overcame even the darkest of times – and for the show’s main character- to name their daughter after the show’s most steadfast theme: Hope. In a world of their own, Emma and Killian loving looked down at their baby girl and gently leaned their heads against each other, as Emma took a contented breath in a well deserved moment of utter solace and joy with Hope in their hearts and their arms. It was a gloriously beautiful and perfect moment and last page in a truly magical storybook of the happiest ending of all.