[WATCH] Daytime Emmy reels slugfest: Bryan Craig is Younger Actor lock, Younger Actress and Guest up in the air

Tony Ruiz and I have watched the episodes submitted by the nominees for Best Younger Actor, Best Younger Actress and Best Guest Performer, but while Best Younger Actor appears to be a slam dunk for Bryan Craig (“General Hospital”), we’re in complete disagreement over Best Younger Actress, and Best Guest Performer could be a coin toss – unless there’s a three-way tie in that race like there was last year.

It’s easy for both of us to predict Craig’s Younger Actor victory. This is his third nomination, but after two previous losses it looks like he finally has a reel that gives him the edge. “I think it’s the one to beat because it’s the one where I felt like there was the most acting,” says Ruiz about Craig’s performance of drunkenness and bipolar disorder. “It was the biggest performance in this category by a long shot.”

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We were both underwhelmed by the episodes submitted by Craig’s rivals Max Ehrich (“The Young and the Restless”), Tequan Richmond (“GH”) and Nicolas Bechtel (“GH”), though we both enjoyed Pierson Fode‘s “Bold and the Beautiful” reel in which he finally punches his smug father (Thorsten Kaye) in the face.

But Best Younger Actress is the one contest where Ruiz and I are completely at odds. I thought two-time defending champ Hunter King (“Y&R”) delivered the biggest and best performance, but Ruiz thought she was “loud without nuance.” He ranks her all the way down in fourth, but it’s worth noting that King is the only previous winner in this category, and threepeats have happened twice before in the Younger Actress category, for Jennifer Finnigan (“B&B,” 2002-2004) and Jennifer Landon (“As the World Turns,” 2006-2008).

Instead, Ruiz thinks that “Days of Our Lives” star True O’Brien will prevail. “She played this so beautifully with the combination of shock and hurt and anger,” he says. Both King both submitted episodes in which they discover the infidelities of the men they love – though in King’s reel she’s also mourning his death in addition to his cheating. I agree that O’Brien would be a worthy winner, but I rank her third.

Two other reels stood out to us: Ashlyn Pearce (“B&B”) submitted a refreshing change-of-pace performance in which she is driven mad by her mother’s death. In a sea of sad or victimized heroines, Pearce is only woman playing diabolical, which could help her stand out. And “you want to talk about impact? The very last thing that happens in her reel is that she dies,” Ruiz adds.

Reign Edwards (“B&B”) delivers a subtler performance, defending her transgender sister against their intolerant parents, but Ruiz responded strongly to her as well: “I was absolutely transfixed by her … She plays it with anger, but with a lot of dignity.”

Neither of us is as enthusiastic about the last nominee, Brooklyn Rae Silzer (“GH”), but the pre-teen actress may have a long career ahead of her.

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Last year’s award for Best Guest Performer ended in a curious three-way tie between Donna Mills (“GH”), Fred Willard (“B&B”) and Ray Wise (“Y&R”), and this year’s race is close enough that it could end in another tie. It appears to be a race between “B&B” guests Anna Maria Horsford and Obba Babatunde. They play husband and wife and actually submitted the same episode to judges, in which they confront their transgender daughter at her wedding ceremony.

“If either one of these two win, I’m happy,” says Ruiz. “Conventional wisdom would be that Babatunde would win, but Horsford just comes alive in the last five minutes, where she lets her husband have it, and she gets the sympathy because she’s the mom who [finally] accepts her transgender child.”

Babatunde has more dialogue and showier emotion, but he may not get enough viewer sympathy since he plays a transphobic bigot publicly rejecting his daughter. Horsford gets plenty of sympathy, but much of her performance is quiet and reactive. Either way, we agree these two are well ahead of their rivals: Dee Wallace (“GH”), Adam Leadbeater (“Days”) and Frank Runyeon (“Y&R”).

Who do you think will win? Before making or updating your Daytime Emmy predictions, make sure to read Ruiz’s analyses of Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. And watch our slugfests debating the lead acting and supporting acting races.

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