Jenny is a regular Soap Central recapper for The Young and the Restless and Revenge, and a former recapper for All My Children. Her love of soaps began with her introduction to AMC in the late 70s, but it quickly expanded to include all daytime dramas. Through good years and bad, she has been a dedicated fan of all four remaining network shows since the mid-80s and diligently followed the Prospect Park reboots to the very end. She is proud to be back on the expert panel for another chance to predict the year's Emmy winners.
After watching all of the acting reels, I was surprised that Y&R hadn't chosen to submit scenes for Outstanding Show that had garnered multiple actors their own Emmy nods -- notably, the fallout from the Sully/Christian reveal and Jack learning of Phyllis' affair with Billy. The episodes they selected were still very strong, and I think it worked in the show's favor that they submitted two very different ones. The high drama of explosions, death, and betrayal in the first episode balanced nicely with more character-based scenes involving the whole cast in the second. Between the two selections, Y&R included a little bit of everything that makes a good soap.
GH's submissions were also high drama, and it was a memorable moment when Sonny revealed that he could walk by getting up from his wheelchair to defend his loved ones. GH's cast is stellar across the board, so it's great that they had a lot of group scenes, but I thought too much of the focus centered around violence and a day-player gunman. I wished they'd better balanced their reel, perhaps with some scenes from the aftermath of Morgan's death.
I remember DAYS' episodes being extremely soapy, and over-the-top usually doesn't fare well at Emmy time. B&B does location shoots better than any other soap. Using their trip to Monte Carlo in their submission helped them to stand out in their own right, but I doubt beautiful scenery will win when other shows showcased much stronger acting and writing.
Before I talk reels, I admire Scott Clifton and Billy Flynn for being actors on the younger side who bucked the trend of submitting themselves in the supporting category just because they aren't as seasoned as those who typically compete in the lead categories. They were both lead actors during the year who deserved a spot on the list of nominees.
I wasn't expecting to like Clifton's reel as much as I did, mostly because Liam's situation wasn't relatable. Despite the unrealistic storyline, Liam's fury was palpable when he confronted Quinn, and I truly believed he might have killed her. The final scenes between Liam and Bill conveyed a different kind of anger and disappointment, and the reel ended on an inspiring note when Liam vowed to get the girl. I surprised myself when I found Clifton's reel to be the most impressive of the bunch.
Peter Bergman wisely chose the explosive scenes when Jack confronted Phyllis about her affair with Billy, which I felt were among the best scenes to appear on daytime last year. Bergman does angry very well, and the camera work helped to add a sense of discomfort that worked with the nature of the scenes. There were moments when he seemed to go a little over the top with his facial expressions and gestures, and I would have liked to see a little more hurt rather than anger in the mix, but I wouldn't be surprised if he takes home the win. Bergman was my top runner before I watched the actual submissions.
The end of Kristoff St. John's reel made me tear up when Neil realized that his mother had passed on. However, I can't quite get past Neil being a supporting character for the vast majority of last year other than this brief encounter with his mother. It's as if the show couldn't find anything to do with Neil, but they knew St. John was a gifted actor, so they wrote just enough material to garner an Emmy nom. Kristoff is a deserving actor, and I hope Y&R sees fit to give him stories worthy of his talents in the future.
Billy Flynn has quickly climbed the ranks in my book for being one of the best criers on daytime (and that's no easy feat, as there are some good ones!). He had some tough scenes -- some with a ghost, another when he was the only actor involved. Flynn did a nice job showing Chad's grief, but I don't think his reel was strong enough to take a very competitive category. I have a feeling this won't be his last nomination.
I've been a fan of Vincent Irizarry since his days as GL's Lujack, but I never felt like the character of Deimos was fully fleshed out. The reel started off slow, and I wasn't very interested by the time the emotions were raised a notch. I never really felt like it gained momentum.
This is possibly the strongest category this year. Before I watched the reels, I thought this was a race between Gina Tognoni and Laura Wright based solely on watching their performances throughout the year. They were also front and center in two of the most memorable acting moments in my mind from last year -- Tognoni's Phyllis confronting Victor in court, and Wright's Carly smashing Morgan's photo when she lashed out at Sonny for causing their son's car accident. I'm happy to see that both scenes made it to their Emmy reels.
I like that the reels of both women tell a story to allow even a non-viewer to understand what happened to the character. Both actresses were amazing, but Wright's stood out because not only was she the main focus throughout her reel, showing a huge range of emotion while never going over the top, but she also showed great range. She interacted differently with all of her four scene partners (it also didn't hurt that said scene partners also all happen to be past Emmy winners).
Heather Tom's reel made me sad and a bit angry that Katie has seen such little screen time in recent months. I was reminded of what a powerhouse actress Tom can be when she's given the material. She commanded her scenes and displayed everything from blind fury to vulnerability to dripping sarcasm. I felt like it was riding a roller coaster of emotion until her reel ended with a quiet, poignant moment when she said goodbye to Brooke. Tom can never be ruled out as a contender.
I am thrilled whenever Jess Walton graces my television screen, and she is my top runner for next year's Lead Actress race. However, I would have placed her firmly in the supporting category for this year's awards. I thought Jill's scenes as a fiercely protective mother were great, but the first half of the reel was nothing special.
It was a little tough to watch Nancy Lee Grahn's reel impartially because I still don't buy that Alexis became an alcoholic practically overnight, but I tried to put my disdain for the storyline aside. I found some parts of her performance to be spot-on and others spotty. The hysterics in the final scenes of the reel, while in character for Alexis, might appear way over the top to voters unfamiliar with the show.
In Steve Burton's reel, I felt like Dylan was literally yanking out his heart and handing it over to Nick when he put Sully/Christian in Nick's arms. There's something about a grown man trying desperately (and realistically, if you're acting) not to shed tears that always gets to me. These could have been easy scenes to play with extreme emotion, but it made it more intriguing to watch Burton's struggle with showing Dylan being strong and doing the right thing, even though Dylan was devastated. The only thing that could have made it better is if Burton had also included some of the scenes between Dylan and Faith that Alyvia Alyn Lind had on her reel.
It's unfathomable that this is John Aniston's first Emmy nomination after decades of outstanding work on DAYS. He could win for the sentimental value alone, but he also wisely chose his reel. His sweet, tender scenes with Suzanne Rogers' Maggie juxtaposed nicely with classic Victor butting heads with enemy Deimos. Throw in an element of humor when Victor clued in Phillip that he'd faked his heart attack, and it could be Emmy gold.
Chad Duell's reel was very good. I especially give him credit for the scene of Michael tenderly speaking to a dead Sabrina -- it's not easy to act against a partner who can't respond. He was wonderful in showing the numbness and shock of learning that a loved one is dead. I thought he conveyed an appropriate amount of anger when confronting Sonny, but his performance was a bit extreme when he blamed Kiki for Morgan's death.
I've been watching James Reynolds since I started watching soaps, and I am so happy to see him recognized for his work. While he gave a solid performance as he always does, I found myself distracted by the "soapiness" of the hostage storyline and the weakness of some of his scene partners.
Jeffrey Vincent Parise was a good soap baddie, but much of his reel came across as a caricature, particularly since it wasn't clear in the Julian-taunting scenes that Carlos was dead until the end. Parise gets bonus points for making me wonder at first whether Joe was played by a different actor, mostly because Parise's voice as Joe was so different from his portrayal of Carlos. While dual roles often help ensure an Emmy win, Parise's scenes as Joe didn't really seem to be anything special.
Anna Maria Horsford had a set of scenes that seemed to be written to win an Emmy, and I loved the acting choices she made. After Julius confessed his infidelity and revealed that Sasha was his daughter, it wouldn't have been surprising for Vivienne to explode in a rage or dissolve in tears. Horsford played it as a mix of controlled anger and disbelief, allowing the momentum of the scene to build until Vivienne finally ordered Julius out and allowed Nicole and Sasha to console her.
I find Stacy Haiduk fascinating to watch as unstable Patty. Haiduk effortlessly transitions between moments of apparent normalcy or childlike innocence to violent outbursts and seething anger. You never know who Patty is going to be next, and Haiduk keeps her scene partners and the audience on their toes. However, I can see how a voter who doesn't regularly watch the show might be confused by what is going on.
Finola Hughes is always fabulous, and she gets bonus points for being the only nominee in the supporting actress category to be a contract performer still with her show. If I were choosing a winner based on the nominee's performance throughout the entire year, she would be the hands-down winner. She chose a variety of scenes, from lighthearted to heartfelt to angry, to showcase her talent. While Hughes handled them all adeptly, none of them really screamed Emmy to me, although I wouldn't be disappointed if the Emmy panel proves me wrong.
Kelly Sullivan was at the top of my short list for this category even before pre-nominations were out. I figured she'd be among the nominees when I first saw the scenes that she submitted on her reel. I know she had limited time on the show last year, but her reel was painfully short -- less than half the time of any other supporting actress nominee. I wondered where the rest of it was when it was done. While that in itself won't rule out a win, I think it gives her competitors an edge.
I am happy to see Kate Mansi recognized this year, but I found the first few scenes of her reel to be distractingly choppy. While Mansi did a nice job with the material, I found myself bored watching scene after scene of Abigail crying and weak.
Tequan Richmond is a fine young actor. Despite diminished screen time this past year, I'm glad there were enough meaty scenes for him to garner another Emmy nomination, and I think it might be his year. It's not just his actions, but his reactions that are very interesting to watch. I thought he portrayed T.J. learning that his mother had lied about his true paternity with just the right realistic mix of anger and hurt.
Bryan Craig's reel packed a punch in a very short amount of time. He won last year for his portrayal of bipolar Morgan, and there's a good chance he might do it again. Pierson Fodé gave a tenderly emotional performance as Thomas grappled with Caroline's admission that Douglas was his son and reluctantly agreed to let her and Ridge raise the baby as their own. I thought these scenes were very well done by both actors, but I felt Linsey Godfrey owned them, and I constantly found my eyes on her rather than Fodé.
Anthony Turpel had a lot of guts to submit his very first scenes on the show -- I can only imagine how nerve-wracking those first days had been to a new performer working opposite multiple veterans. I think his voice and facial expressions are spot-on, but his body language makes me flash back to problems I had as a budding young actress in drama class -- I had trouble feeling comfortable with what to do with my hands. Turpel spent most of the scenes in his reel slouched with one or both hands shoved awkwardly in his pockets. He has seemed to warm up as he's settled into the show, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back on the nominee list again.
I still haven't warmed up to James Lastovic as DAYS' Joey, and I'll leave my commentary at that.
Lexi Ainsworth gave a strong performance in a variety of scenes. I didn't think the first scene with the gunman was necessary because it was brief and there were so many people involved that it didn't really focus on her, but I found her to be very realistic as Kristina confessed her misdeeds to her parents and worried what her father would think if she was gay. Her performance this year is strong enough for a win, but if that weren't enough, Ainsworth was absolutely robbed a few years ago when she should have been a shoo-in for her performance as a domestic abuse victim. Often the voters seem to recognize actors, particularly in the younger categories, a year or two after their best work.
Alyvia Alyn Lind is truly a find. She is an incredible child actress, and I wouldn't be surprised if Y&R holds off on SORASing Faith until Lind's successful career takes her into a different direction. For such a young performer, she holds her own against her adult scene partners and at times even brings out the best in them. I'm hard-pressed not to choose her as the winner, but the panel hasn't been prone to awarding trophies to children (though there have been exceptions). I give Lind a close second.
I liked the performances of both Reign Edwards and Hunter King, but I simply felt Ainsworth's was stronger. GH was smart to create a new character for Chloe Lanier after she impressed as young Patricia in Luke's flashback scenes, but the supporting role she played in most of the scenes on her reel didn't allow her to shine. I think some of her scenes from 2017 will fare much better, and I will be surprised if she doesn't grab another nom next year.
In prior years, the nominees in this category always seemed to leave a memorable mark on their respective shows, even if they didn't appear for a lengthy amount of time. This year, I only recognized two of the nominees at first glance. Without being able to see the reels that were submitted, I was able to jog my memory by referring to Soap Central's trusty recaps. I have to go with Nichelle Nichols' portrayal of Neil's estranged mother on her deathbed for the win. She didn't have many scenes on Y&R, but they were heartfelt and memorable, and she had a wonderful scene partner in Kristoff St. John. The other four portrayers were effective, but Nichols benefited from having the most layered character of the bunch.