Over the last month, many posters in our forums volunteered to view the episodes submitted to Daytime Emmy judges as examples of their best work. In an earlier post, they made informed predictions covering whidh show will win best drama series. Below, our poster named GL Fan and our message-boards moderator Matthew "Boidiva02" Cormier analyze and forecast the best-actress derby. Both agree that past winner of best supporting actress, Crystal Chappell ("Guiding Light"), will prevail in lead. See analysis of other categories in our special forum.
BEST ACTRESS: GL FAN'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1.) Crystal Chappell, "Guiding Light"
2.) Maura West, "As the World Turns"
3.) Michelle Stafford, "The Young and the Restless"
4.) Bobbie Eakes, "All My Children"
5.) Sarah Brown, "General Hospital"
GLFAN'S COMMENTARY: All of this year's nominees are previous nominees in either the lead, supporting or younger actress categories. In fact, the only person in this category without a bronzed winged lady is "All My Children's" Bobbie Eakes. It doesn't look like Ms. Eakes will be taking home the Emmy this time around either, but her competition isn't nearly as severe as it has been in the past. Emmy heavy-hitters like Kim Zimmer, Susan Flannery, and Erika Slezak aren't on 2010's final ballot of five. What is even more shocking is that only two of these ladies had that "it" moment in their tape — you know, that shocking revelation that makes a tape jump alive from the regular boring hum drumness that can put Emmy voters to sleep after watching so many tapes.
Previous supporting-actress Emmy winner Crystal Chappell has one of those tapes. Her declaration of love to her "friend" Natalia is not only one of the most talked about moments in soaps last year, it's also one of the best played in all of these leading ladies' reels. Coupled with her poignant monologue in the graveyard and two earlier scenes with Jessica Leccia's Natalia and Emmy winner Justin Deas' Buzz, Chappel's tape is wrought with that soap-opera angst. The writing is surprisingly strong and gives the actress something to really sink her teeth into. It is in that tombstone monologue and later that pivotal scene where Olivia admits to Natalia on her wedding day that she is in love with her that Chappell shines brightest and secures this award.
Maura West certainly is giving Chappell a run for the top slot, though. Her tape is the longest running time of all the nominees. Everyone else's clocks in somewhere between 9 and 11 minutes, and West's is a whopping 20 minutes in comparison. She nails every single moment she is given in those 20 minutes as Carly is confronted by those nearest and dearest to her in an intervention due to her continued alcohol abuse. The tape is certainly all about West's Carly, and she is surrounded by Emmy nominees Michael Park, Jon Lindstrom, Julie Pinson; and past Emmy champ Cady McClain. However, the writing isn't necessarily the best of the lot and this could hurt her. It seems as if Carly goes from downing a bottle of cooking oil to an intervention to agreeing to get help all within one eppy. Sure, it makes for some wham-bam scenes, but with an actress this good, there should have been that one "moment" and there just isn't because the entire thing feels incredibly rushed. It is due to West's incredible talent that she is ranked No. 2.
Michelle Stafford's Phyllis finds out that her husband's ex-wife Sharon is pregnant with what could be Nick's child. Of all the tapes, this seems the soapiest of them all and like something Emmy voters have seen again and again. This type of tape, while incredibly effective, never seems to win the top prize. The other problem with Stafford's tape is that you can see her making what seem like rehearsed acting choices as the tape goes along. The entire tape is with Emmy nominee Joshua Marrow, save for the final scene in which Emmy champ Peter Bergman's Jack assures Phyllis that Nick's latest revelation will not harm her marriage. The tape ends on a rather low note as well. I can't help but think that Stafford had other tapes that would have been much better to garner her third Emmy.
Bobbie Eakes' Crystal has turned in a rather subtle tape, but it is indeed the only other tape with that "it moment." When Crystal reveals to Tad that she did not put her baby up for adoption, but rather sold her instead, the heartbreak on Eake's face is priceless. That said, everything before and after this scene pales in comparison to the work of the three ladies ranked before her and I don't see any way in which Eakes steals the Emmy away from them.
It is hard to steal much of anything from Sarah Brown's tape. This has got to be the most boring and dull tape of the bunch. Even opposite the dynamic and charismatic Maurice Bernard, her hospital bed scenes as Claudia deals with the death of her baby are tedious at best. Watching paint dry could be more exciting than watching Brown's reel. That said, she landed the nomination, she's a past Emmy winner in both the younger and supporting categories and could make Emmy history if she won here. With only one round of judging, Brown could prevail on Emmy night, but if she does, it is a true sign of why this current voting system is a complete travesty.
The CBS ladies Chappell, West, and Stafford each made much stronger episode selections than the ABC women. But it will all come down to viewer preference. Some will prefer the more heart-felt writing of "Guiding Light" Olivia's confession of love, while others may prefer "As the World Turns'" more action-packed writing of Carly on the edge. In the end, I think the over powering force that was Crystal Chappell in 2009 is a respected industry wide phenomenon, and I expect her to prevail come Emmy night.
BEST ACTRESS: MATTHEW "BOIDIVA02" CORMIER'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1. Crystal Chappell, "Guiding Light"
2. Michelle Stafford, "Young and the Restless"
3. Maura West, "As the World Turns"
4. Bobbie Eakes, "All My Children"
5. Sarah Brown, "General Hospital"
BOIDIVA02'S COMMENTARY: This was a middling selection of tapes, if you ask me. Only two of the selected tapes seem up for the task of competing for a Daytime Emmy Award. Those two tapes belong to Crystal Chappell of the now-defunct "Guiding Light" and Michelle Stafford of "The Young & The Restless." While Maura West did submit a very typically soap-opera tape, the acting on her part didn't really ring true and the short span of the tape seemed to mute the impact these scenes could have had if they had been done correctly.
The first tape I watched was from Ms. West, who plays Carly Tenney on CBS's soon-to-be-defunct "As The World Turns." At 20 minutes, it is the longest of the submitted episodes. The subject matter covered in them — a family intervention for Carly whose family wants her to get help for a drinking problem — seems far too important to be solved in a one episode span. This is a story that would have had far more impact over the course of several days or weeks. With that said, West does a very good job of conveying emotions. You see Carly go from embarrassed and scared at the start of the tape to angry and humiliated in the middle and ultimately accepting of her family's help. The issue here for me is that, as wonderful as West is in the tape, she is often out-shined by her co-stars, notably the young actor playing her teenage son Parker and Jon Lindstrom playing Craig, her current boyfriend. This would have made for a fine submission for a writing award, but as an acting tape, it doesn't cut it.
At 11 minutes, Sarah Brown's submission as Claudia on "General Hospital" is on the shorter side of the submitted tapes and proves only that Sarah Brown doesn't want to win this Emmy. The tape consists of Claudia fresh from having a miscarriage (following a car accident) reeling in pain. Claudia and Sonny discuss how learning Sonny is the father of the baby would have changed their relationship and the scene is so short that it provides absolutely no emotional impact whatsoever. In the scene it's clear the Brown was not giving her all, as she appears to have no concern for making the scene pop. She appears bored and like she'd rather be anyplace else. In the rest of the scene we see Carly discuss with her brother Johnny a plan to get revenge on whomever caused the accdient and a few exchanges with random nurses, doctors and other characters. All in all, what could have been an emotionally charged scene was diluted by an actress that seemed totally "over" her character and the material she was given. Even surrounded by Emmy-winner Maurice Bernard as Sonny doesn't save this tape from being boring.
Next up was "All My Children" spitfire Bobbie Eakes who has earned a reputation for solid, almost effortless work as troubled heroine Krystal Carey. In this tape, Krystal is riddled with fear that her deepest and darkest secret will be revealed. She is being blackmailed and must confess the startling truth to former lover Tad Martin. The news is that Marissa Tasker, a waitress in town, has a closer bond to Krystal than anybody knows. Marissa is Krystal's daughter, whom as a troubled teenager she sold to another couple. Krystal had given birth to twins and was forced to make ends meet to choose between her two girls. She sold Marissa to a couple who ended up adopting her and raising her as their own. Krystal never spoke a word of this to anybody until now. Marissa is in town unknowingly face to face with her birth mother; having never known she was even adopted. The tape could have been a true contender except for the abrupt nature in which the secret is revealed and the lack of follow-up given on the tape. Krystal spends half the tape worried about her secret, preparing to tell Tad and then she just blurts it out and the tape ends. Had this tape provided a scene or two more with follow-up including Tad's reaction to the news this could have given Eakes a real shot at winning. But as of now, she's not a likely contender.
Next up is one of the best tapes I've seen all year; Michelle Stafford as Phyllis on "The Young & The Restless." While some may discount this as just soap opera melodrama, I see this tape as true acting. Phyllis learns in this tape that her husband Nick has not only cheated on her with ex-wife Sharon, but that Sharon is pregnant with Nick's child. Phyllis is devastated and deals with this trauma. Ultimately the tape works because, aside from the pregnancy stuff, it is a tape about a married couple dealing with all the issues in their marriage. Phyliss stands up for herself and demands that she come first as Nick's wife and that he not put Sharon in the middle of their marriage. Some might claim that Stafford's acting seemed forced or calculated, but I found each scene to be played out perfectly. Stafford's timing was beyond impeccable. There were two scenes in particular that I found to be stand-outs. At one point Phyllis declares to Nick that she feels he has left nothing in his life for her and she says "What's left for me?" and at another point in the tape she tells Nick that for once he must "let Sharon come last." These two scenes I felt humanized Phyllis and brought the scene up to a level it might not otherwise have reached. The only complaint I might have is that to some this tape might not seem showy enough because Stafford uses very subtle acting to convey the emotions of the scene and doesn't go into hysterical screaming fits.
Lastly, we have the true stand-out in this race: Crystal Chappell of CBS's canceled "Guiding Light." The tape comes it at 11 minuets and 50 seconds, but she makes every second count. The scene opens as Olivia (Chappell) is packing up her belongings to move out of the house she has shared with Natalia (Jessica Leccia). Natalia is going to be married to Frank and clearly Olivia would be in the way if she stayed. The problem is that neither women seems able to pull away from one another. Natalia has been having feelings she doesn't understand and Olivia seems to be having a strange reaction to Natalia getting married. Both women go and seek advice, Natalia from a priest and Olivia from Buzz, Frank's father and her long-time friend. Later Olivia goes to the grave of Gus Aitori. It is here that Olivia processes her emotions and is able to admit for the first time the truth: she is in love with Natalia. Natalia just happens to be at the same grave site and demands to know why Olivia is so upset. Olivia tells her and it is this scene that nails the Emmy for Chappell. Through this tape, Chappell does two things right. No. 1: she nails each and every emotion, line and facial expression, creating a heart-wrenching viewing expierence. No. 2: she also submits a tape that tells a story that is relatable and rooted. All the other actresses submitted tapes that could come across as too outlandish to be believed, but Chappell submitted a love story, a story almost anybody can relate too. I believe this will win her the Emmy.
Photos: Crystal Chappell with her Emmy for best supporting actress in 2002 (National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences)