I watched the reels in alphabetical order by show. All pictures come straight from the submissions.
"All My Children"
Length of Reel: 17:25
Synopsis: 11/22/2010 - Kendall gleefully awaits the return of her husband, Zach Slater, only to be told by Ryan and Erica that Zach was killed in a plane crash. At first unable to accept the news, she eventually breaks down and mourns her loss.
Analysis: Well, after the last time, I was expecting a lot worse. Minshew was nominated in the supporting category in 2009, and watching that reel it was clear that only voter fraud could account for her nomination. It wasn't that her performance was bad. It was that her reel included so little performance at all. This time, at least she's trying. She's not always succeeding, but at least she's trying. The beginning of the reel is drawn out. Ryan and Erica stand there solemnly. Kendall beams about her husband coming home. Even not being familiar with this episode or storyline it's clear Zach is dead, so for three minutes we wait for the bad-news bearers to spit it out already.
Then the acting starts. Minshew is shocked, in denial. We sit through a couple of repetitive scenes of "No, he's not dead, why did you stop looking for him, he's out there!" Then finally comes the big emotional breakdown, and it's not very good. Seeing her sister Bianca looking sad, for some reason it only then dawns on Kendall that her husband is really dead and Minshew wails extravagantly. The problem here is that while she's scrunching her face and a lot of tortured sounds are coming out, there are no tears. No real emotion registers. Only sounds and scrunching. She improves near the end of the reel, when her grief becomes subtler. The closing scene is simple and effective, with Kendall calling Zach's phone just to hear his voicemail message and crying. No big fireworks, but finally, some feeling.
Odds of Winning: Doubtful.
"All My Children"
Length of Reel: 6:21
Synopsis: 7/19/2010 - When Angie has an episode at Krystal's Restaurant, she calls her doctor, Jake Martin, to pick her up. When he arrives at the restaurant she expresses fear for all the things she'll miss if she loses her eyesight. Back at her apartment (or his, it's not clear which), she has calmed down, and she and Jake talk about the chances that her new experimental medication will work.
Analysis: They say good things come in small packages. This reel is quite a bit better than Minshew's, and that is a function of how much better an actress Debbi Morgan is.
That's not to say it's a showstopper of a reel. Her scene with Jake is moving and expresses much more feeling than Minshew, but it's really just one note -- terrified anguish -- and the following scene discussing medication doesn't add much. Morgan is very good with what this episode gives her, but with four reels to go it doesn't feel quite like an Emmy winner to me.
** EDITED - Reel is actually just 6:21. My original reporting of the length turns out to have been inaccurate.
Odds of Winning: Within the realm of possibility.
"As the World Turns"
Length of Reel: 26:49
Synopsis: 8/27/2010 - Barbara Ryan is furious and heartbroken that Henry has taken back his marriage proposal, but when Henry explains he's afraid his father James Stenbeck's legacy will destroy the union, she reassures him and they agree to get married right away. Katie and Chris are invited to be witnesses, but they corral Barbara and Henry to a surprise gathering of their friends and family. The couple exchanges vows, burns their pictures of James Stenbeck, and celebrate.
Analysis: A very good Emmy reel. For starters I have to say I don't buy Henry and Barbara as a couple. Not even a little bit. And all of the "I've finally found the last man I'll ever marry!" sentiments feel almost laughable, and were written only because the show was going off the air in less than a month and there would be no time for them to divorce anyway. As a comic fling it might work, but as true undying love it doesn't pass the smell test.
That said, Colleen Zenk and Trent Dawson act the hell out of it, and the writers and producers of ATWT were savvy -- perhaps accidentally so, or perhaps intentionally -- to give Zenk what amounts to a complete story arc in a single episode, which gives her more of a chance, as an actress, to express a story to Emmy voters viewing her reel. She's fantastic throughout, hitting the ground running in a funny and sweet opening scene where Barbara struggles to understand why Henry is rejecting her. Then she has touching, plaintive moments with her family and friends and a dialogue passage of strong impact: her vows to Henry.
There are some distraction on the reel. The weirdness of Barbara, Henry, and Barbara's son Paul all having the same hallucination about James Stenbeck, which is addressed in a later scene where they burn James Stenbeck's pictures, which begs the question of why they would keep so many pictures of a man they hate so much. And the fact that Paul and Emily are a happy couple now, when a few years ago I remember one or both of them being psychotic and trying to kill each other. But those are minor quibbles and none of them are really relevant to the performance. Of the first three reels, this is the first I'd be comfortable calling an Emmy winner.
Odds of Winning: Frontrunner
"The Bold and the Beautiful"
Length of Reel: 22:10
Synopsis: 10/14/2010, 10/15/2010 - After losing her scarf, Stephanie Forrester chases down a young homeless girl who found it but won't give it back. She tracks the girl down to an alley where many of the homeless live, and Stephanie, realizing that she has lost sight of her priorities, decides to seek treatment for her stage-4 lung cancer.
Analysis: Analyzing this is tough, because I have to separate my feelings about the performance from my general distaste for the reel itself. This is one of those cloying, condescending, and ultimately insincere stories about the rich seeing how the other half lives that isn't really interested in the other half, it just exploits the poor to teach a rich person life lessons. I'm guessing that about five minutes after this detour into social consciousness the poor people disappeared from B&B, just like all the gay people who are completely uninvolved in the Los Angeles fashion industry. The use of "Lean on Me" at the end was especially cringe-inducing.
The start of the episode is difficult to follow. It's a haphazardly edited intro in which present scenes and flashbacks are cut together so that it's not easy to tell exactly where or when this particular episode takes place. Eventually it settles down when Stephanie finds the homeless girl's tent and they learn about each other's lives. Flannery's performance is good, natural, unforced. But even in her strongest moments in the tent it's not especially noteworthy acting, and she's outdone by Kristolyn Lloyd, who plays the homeless girl. I'm just not sure what all the fuss is about here.
Odds of Winning: Spoiler, but doesn't deserve to be.
Length of Reel: 12:15
Synopsis: 5/10/2010 - Carly is devastated when she learns in court that her son Michael is going to prison for two years. Jason consoles her, assures her that he will make arrangements for Michael to be protected, and tells her she needs to be strong for Michael's sake. At the police station, Carly and Michael try to comfort each other and Michael's siblings say goodbye to him. In the last scene, Carly confronts Dante, whom Carly blames for Michael's imprisonment.
Analysis: This is not a competitive tape, and that's unfortunate because Laura Wright is quite good in it. The problems are as follows:
(1) The events of the episode are unclear out of context, which makes Wright's emotions less impactful to the viewer. We know that Michael is going to jail for two years, that it has something to do with Claudia's death, and that it's apparently all Dante's fault, but beyond that it's not clear what Michael has been convicted of or what Dante's involvement is.
(2) Carly plays a supporting role in parts of her own reel, and it's much too short a reel for her to sit out as much of it as she does. There's an extended chunk in the middle where Michael says goodbye to his siblings, half-siblings, not-so-siblings (when Molly -- I think that was Molly -- says, "I know you're not technically my brother, but it feels like you are!" my immediate thought was that the adult cast should retire their loins) and Carly just stands in the background.
(3) The episode ends just as it's about to get good. When the elevator door opens to Dante's apartment and Carly walks in with a killer look in her eyes, it seems like the confrontation the entire episode has been leading to, but since there's only a minute left on the reel we know we'll be left wanting. Indeed we are. Carly says a couple of words and picks up a gun. Fade to black. I wonder if the following episode might have been a better submission.
Again, Wright's performance isn't the problem with this reel. The fact that she doesn't give us enough performance to evaluate is.
Odds of Winning: Nil.
"The Young and the Restless"
Length of Reel: 11:40
Synopsis: 7/12/2010 - Phyllis appears at Sharon's door, announcing that she has left Nick for good and she wants her apartment back; Sharon is more than happy to oblige. After a handful of flashbacks showing her relationship with Nick, we return to the present. Nick comes to beg for Phyllis's forgiveness, but she refuses to play second fiddle to Sharon anymore.
Analysis: Wait a second -- didn't Michelle Stafford submit this exact same reel last year? I went back to look at my synopsis of last year's nominated Emmy submission, and it was as follows: "Nick tells Phyllis that Sharon is pregnant and he might be the father. She agonizes over Nick's continued connection to Sharon, which has gotten in the way of their marriage." This year's submission aired in July -- did nothing else happen to Phyllis in all that time between the last submission and this one? Next year, will she be submitting this exactly same confrontation with Nick?
But let's pretend I didn't watch last year's submission and am coming to this episode fresh. It's still not competitive. At under 12 minutes it's the shortest of the reels, and the meat of the performance doesn't kick into gear until about halfway through. The first half consists of a minor, bitchy confrontation with Sharon, then some flashbacks that I do not consider part of the performance up for consideration. That gives us about six minutes of actual reel. It's a dynamite six minutes, wounded and angry and righteous, but apart from having seen it before last year, it's simply not enough, especially not against a reel like Colleen Zenk's.
Odds of Winning: Slim to nil.
FINAL ANLYSIS: It's hard to guess what fickle and unreliable Emmy voters will do, but if voters watched and honestly evaluated these submissions, Colleen Zenk should win this in a walk. There are five good actresses in this race, and then Alicia Minshew, who submitted a good performance showcase in need of a better performer. The issue here is not talent but material. Only Zenk's reel tells a complete, accessible story that allows her to demonstrate a broad range of emotions. It's the longest reel. The only reel that's nearly as long is Susan Flannery's, who I'd say is still a threat just because she's Susan Flannery, but there's nothing in Flannery's performance that really merits a victory. Certainly not a fourth victory for this role. Wright and Stafford are good in reels that don't showcase them nearly enough. Debbi Morgan has one of the best scenes in this category, but it's a short reel and there's not enough range. Zenk is the only credible choice. A category like this makes me wonder about the reels we didn't get to see. It's hard to believe no one submitted better episodes than some of the ones that made it into this race.
Ranking by Preference:
1. Colleen Zenk - ATWT
2. Debbi Morgan - AMC
3. Susan Flannery - B&B
4. Laura Wright - GH
5. Michelle Stafford - Y&R
6. Alicia Minshew - AMC
Ranking by Likelihood of Winning:
1. Colleen Zenk - ATWT
2. Susan Flannery - B&B
3. Debbi Morgan - AMC
4. Michelle Stafford - Y&R
5. Alicia Minshew - AMC
6. Laura Wright - GH
In predicting this outcome, I moved Susan Flannery up to second place because Emmy voters clearly love her, and I believe hers is also the show's Drama Series submission, which was well liked enough to get the show in the top race.
I dropped Laura Wright to last place. Alicia Minshew clearly has support from a certain bloc of voters no matter what's on her reel. And Michelle Stafford's continued nominations is evidence of how much support she has from voters. So I think those two have a slightly better chance than Wright, but the bottom three really shouldn't be considered for the win.
Susan Flannery – The Bold and The Beautiful
Stephanie looks for a scarf that was picked up by a homeless girl after it blew off. Flannery has some good moments portraying her illness and weakness. She has an interesting moment with a homeless woman who she realizes she encountered many years before. She is very dismissive of the woman but then softens when she realizes she was homeless for so long. . Her closing narration is the best part after telling how she first got the scarf.
Alicia Minshew – All My Children
Erica and Ryan tell Kendall (Minshew) that her husband Zach was killed in a plane crash. Minshew plays the denial pretty well. There is a line when she says “you are so cruel” to Ryan about him leaving Zach behind that makes you believe he is not dead and he did not look hard enough. Seeing her sister Bianca there makes her accept Zach is dead and then she has wail/cry scene that’s not bad. The best scene is the last scene where she listens to his voice on his voicemail.
Debbi Morgan - All My Children
Her submission starts off right of the bat with Angie in a state of near panic because she can’t really see. .So she is going 80 mph right from the start. She calls for Dr. Jake Martin to help her home. He arrives and she asks him to pick up a bible that she dropped but could not find because of her failing sight. Then she breaks down over how she was working to hard and a future of not being able see. I can see why she submitted this as she is very intense. She hits you like a ton bricks. But then Jake takes her home and it ends very abruptly. In a way it works because you are really left with the intensity of the earlier work.
Michelle Stafford. The Young and The Restless
Stafford’s reel doesn’t start off that well. Phyllis (Stafford) asks Sharon who has been living in her apartment to leave and then has some flashbacks to her time with Nick (Sharon’s ex husband and Phyllis’ current one). Nothing really of note in her scenes with Sharon and the flashbacks break up momentum. Then Nick arrives and there is a lot of range in Staffords acting while Phyllis breaks up with Nick seemingly permanently. It’s one of her better submissions. Because one year she submitted her interacting with a half dozen characters that didn’t work but here there is more emotion but the reel was flawed.
Laura Wright. – General Hospital
Carly’s (Wright) son Michael is sentenced to prison and she goes to visit him before he is sent there. A lot of the submission is her trying to keep herself composed and not be too emotional in front of her son. I can see what she was going for in submitting this episode but it doesn’t really deliver. Too much is with Michael with his siblings. Maybe if she was in the frame more as this was going on with her in the background trying to keep herself together. There is a scene of that but it’s not enough.
Barbara (Zenk) gets married to Henry Coleman. Zenk did submit the longest reel and has the opportunity for a lot of range. There is the scene at the beginning where it looks like she is not going to marry Henry and, her wedding vows, and then talks with members of her family who have come to their wedding. Here you get a complete character not just an event or trauma. It’s easy to see why she was nominated. It’s really good.
After watching all of them Morgan has the most impact by far. My personal preference would be Morgan, Zenk, Stafford, Minshew, Flannery, Wright in that order.
Morgan has so much impact but maybe that would not be enough so I guess I would have to go with Zenk as well.
3-Flannery (Has won previously and is popular)
4-Wright (GH has the most nominations. )
So today, I was THRILLED to receive the Lead Actress dvds in the mail (thanks Daniel Montgomery, aka 742!). I immediately watched them all, in order of the shows. I won't post a summary of what transpired in the episodes, as Daniel has already graciously done so, but instead, simply post my analysis of each reel in the order I watched them. I will give 3 ratings for each actress- 1 for the quality of the reel, 1 for the quality of the performance, and then their overall score.
Alicia Minshew as Kendall Slater, All My Children
Minshew's reel starts off kind of weak, as Ryan and Erica deliver the news of Zach's death to Kendall. She is disbelieving at first, though she does begin to "cry." I put cry in quotes because in one shot, she's clearly trying to force tears, the camera pans away and when it pans back, miraculously, her cheeks and eyes are wet. Not good. When Ryan tells her that the mission has changed from "search and rescue" to "search and recovery," again, her reaction is not very strong. Her acting does, however, go up a notch when Bianca arrives and it finally sinks in to Kendall that Zach is indeed dead. She sobs as she falls into Bianca's arms and has her strongest and most believable moment, as the Kane women then embrace. Then, as she's alone in her apartment, I admit to being distracted by the fallic shadow on the wall, as it was a clip I happened to catch on "The Soup." The scene with her calling Zach's voice mail just to hear his voice repeatedly are sad, but failed to truly tug at my heartstrings. The writing in the entire episode is weak and certainly is part of the problem. I can see how she got in with this reel but at the same time, I imagine there were better reels and certainly stronger performances.
Reel- 6/10 Performance- 5/10 Overall Score- 5/10
Debbi Morgan as Angie Hubbard, All My Children
Morgan's reel starts out very strong, as Angie is clearly upset as her eyesight is getting worse and struggles to make a phone call. She calls Jake and he arrives to help her out, as she's clearly distraught. She asks him to help her find her bible, he does, and offers to take her home. She asks him to stay there a few minutes to see if she improves, as she doesn't want to be led to his car like an invalid. He takes her home, she's not happy that she is making him lie to his wife, he tells her to not discount the medication, but she tells him as doctors, they know that experimental drugs aren't very likely to work out. He tells her to have faith. That's it- that's her entire reel. Morgan's performance is very strong and at times amazing. You really believe she's going blind and can feel her pain and confusion. I was very much impressed with her, but I wanted more. A LOT more. This feels more like a supporting actress reel, and is probably even too short to win in that category.
Reel- 6/10 (mostly due to length) Performance- 9/10 Overall- 8/10
Colleen Zenk as Barbara Ryan, As The World Turns
Zenk's reel starts with a GREAT opening scene, with a comedic, but also dramatic tone and a lot of mania, due to Henry telling her he can't marry her. She delivers the best line of any reel- when talking about her relationship with Henry and how he's Paul's half brother, she says you'd need a crip sheet to figure out their family tree. I about died and even someone who doesn't know the show would find it funny, since it was pretty clearly explained. She convinces Henry to marry her and they call a justice of the peace and Katie & Chris to be witnesses. In the next scene, Barbara is shown in this gorgeous white satin cocktailish wedding dress and she looks absolutely stunning. Katie arrives and convinces them to come down to the lobby for the ceremony, since the hotel room is kind of a drab place to have a wedding. When they get downstairs, Babs & Henry are surprised to see her family & friends there to support her. The emotional impact of that scene is strong, as I even got a bit choked up for Barbara. The wedding goes on and they say their vows. Zenk gives a beautiful, fully realized performance while reciting the personalized vows, talking about the kind of woman she is and how it is she got to where she's at. She also gives an amazing reactionary performance as Henry recites his vows, complete with tears flowing without her even uttering a word. After the wedding, she has a really sweet moment with Jenn Landon's Gwen that comes off very natural, and has similar moments with Will, Paul, and Kim. This reel tells a complete story and was a nice choice. I wouldn't have picked it myself, as I thought she gave a brilliant performance earlier in the year during what she calls "The Red Dress Episode," in which she returns the beautiful dress that Henry bought her and questions her age in the mirror. But I think I was wrong- this is a wonderful, sweet, lovely episode- it was obviously a love letter from the writers to Zenk since the show was ending in a few weeks. Yes, the reel was a little long, but overall, it packed quite a wallop.
Reel- 10/10 Performance- 9/10 Overall- 9.5/10
Susan Flannery as Stephanie Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful
The opening scene grabbed me- I really liked the voiceover she does in the beginning about life and then spotting the girl who took her scarf. But about 2 minutes in, I grew extremely bored with it, as it was just her coughing and chasing this girl around town, trying to get her scarf. She runs into the woman who she promised to help years ago, when she ended up homeless and had amnesia. She finally corners the girl and tries to get her scarf back. Kristolyn Lloyd, who plays the girl, Dayzee, really spakles and has a lot of spunk. Dayzee gets up to check out some commotion and Stephanie snatches the scarf, but is startled to find a baby underneath. Honestly, at this point, I was pretty much bored to tears and considered stopping it altogether. Dayzee explains the child isn't hers, that she isn't on drugs, does her best to enlighten Stephanie, finds out Stephanie has stage 4 lung cancer, and convinces her to seek treatment. The reel ends with the song "Lean On Me" and another voiceover, which is ultimately pretty cheesy. There's really not much to Flannery's performance here and she's submitted much better in the past. The directing is marvelous, but the writing is trite and there really isn't much range, or really much at all to Flannery's performance. I think she probably had a myriad of episodes to pick from. I understand she probably chose these episodes because they tell a complete story, but it's more of a showcase for the directors than it is for Flannery.
Reel- 5/10 Performance- 6.5/10 Overall- 6/10
Laura Wright as Carly Corinthos Jacks, General Hospital
The reel starts off very weepy, as Michael has just been sentenced to prison and Jason promises Carly that he'll make sure Michael is protected in prison. Next, she goes to see Michael before he's sent off and shows some inner strength while trying to be strong for her son. Lucky then shows up with Michael's two sisters and his brother Morgan to see him off before he goes. The boy who plays Morgan is very believable- I felt more from his 2 or 3 lines than I did from Wright throughout her entire reel. The moment when Lucky comes to take Michael away is the strongest part of her reel for me, and the ending with her arriving at Dante's apartment to confront him showed promise, though it made you wonder if the next episode wouldn't have been a better choice. For as much of a firecracker Carly is, there is no fire in Wright's performance in this reel and it doesn't show much range. The writing isn't very strong, though she does what she can with it. However, after being snubbed for so long, it's pretty shocking to me that this is the reel she finally got in with and I can't help but think that she was only nominated because people felt she was robbed in years past and not based on the strength of her reel.
Reel- 4/10 Performance- 5/10 Overall- 4.5/10
Michelle Stafford as Phyllis Somers Newman, The Young and the Restless
Stafford's reel starts off very strong- it pulled me in and, like always, she shares amazing chemistry with Sharon Case. Finally, another reel with some fire, as Phyllis is kicking Sharon out of her old apartment so she can move back in and informing Sharon that she's left Nicholas. But then, Sharon leaves and Phyllis sits on her couch and has flashbacks- and not for just 1, but 2 entire scenes. They should have been edited down, as it makes the reel feel quite padded and at just over 11 minutes, that's not a good thing. She shows some range in the scenes with Morrow after Nick shows up and holds back in her performance, until Nick claims it's over with Sharon and she then goes berserk. As she's breaking up with him, it seems like she's trying to force tears as she sobs but never actually cries- they're clearly not coming naturally, unlike in Zenk and Morgan's reels. The breakup scenes that she submitted last year were far stronger than this and her reel ends quite abruptly. Overall, she has some nice moments, but a fully realized performance and reel this is not. She could be a dark horse, but I just don't see why she'd win over Zenk with this reel.
Reel- 6/10 Performance- 7/10 Overall- 7/10
In a year where most pundits are predicting that the race is between Flannery and Stafford, I don't see it that way at all. The award is Colleen Zenk's to lose and the only performance that even comes close to hers is Debbi Morgan's. Unfortunately for Morgan, her reel is entirely too short and there really isn't much for her to sink her teeth into. Her performance is fantastic with what she's given, but what she's given isn't enough. Had she submitted differently, she'd be a real threat, as I was impressed with the 7 minutes I got to see of her. Minshew is ok, but not nearly strong enough to take on the rest. Flannery's reel was a HUGE disappointment, as there really wasn't much depth or range in her performance. And Wright's reel is just plain awful and has zero impact.
Rankings by Preferance:
Rankings by Who Will Probably Win: