Susan Flannery Susan Flannery

It's time for that annual exercise in hopelessness, pointlessness and foolishness — predicting the Daytime Emmys! I mean, seriously, why do we bother? You can think you have good taste and know award-worthy talent when you see it. You can spend hours upon hours reviewing the reels that each of the nominees has submitted to the judges. And then it can all blow up in your face with three little words: Drew Tyler Bell. Yes, my little soap peeps, anyone can win at the Daytime Emmys (which air Sunday at 8/7c, on CBS). Anyone. So, with that in mind, here we go.

Outstanding Daytime Drama: It'll be hard to top The Bold and the Beautiful and the story of cancer-stricken Stephanie and her life-changing trip to Skid Row — an illuminating, gorgeously produced heart-tugger with moments of grace and beauty reminiscent of European art films. Let's face it, this soap's top exec Brad Bell is the only man (or woman) in the suds business right now who is determined to move the form forward (and in these troubled times isn't that a sad comment?). B&B has won in this category the last two years. Another win now will tie it with the legendary Santa Barbara, the only soap to achieve an uninterrupted three-peat. Likeliest Upset: General Hospital. Never underestimate James Franco. Or that "killer" grin.

Outstanding Writing: B&B, submitting the same episodes as above, should take the gold, especially if the voters understand that a great script isn't just about dialogue. (And I'm not sure they do.) Likeliest Upset: As the World Turns, which submitted its warm, lovely and daringly undramatic farewell episode. Sob.

Outstanding Directing: B&B (same episodes as above). Likeliest Upset: GH, for the Franco-goes-nuts-at-MOMA event. True, there's lots of violence, mental illness and sordid gay innuendo but the episode lightens up with a bloody shootout at the hospital. 

Outstanding Lead Actor: GH's Maurice Benard kicked some pretty magnificent ass in scenes where Sonny mistakenly thinks his little girl was beaten up by Ethan and orders a hit on the kid. It's pure mob mania, with a sensitive twist at the end when Sonny reveals that his own mother was also the victim of domestic violence. Likeliest Upset: Days of Our Lives' James Scott, whose character, EJ, goes on a nasty bender and ends up putting a gun to his head. Scott's been the finest actor on his show for years and might finally get something to show for it.

Outstanding Lead Actress: This may be the toughest and most unpredictable race in years and one that's a bit moot since the true best actress of 2010, The Young and the Restless' Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), was egregiously snubbed by her petty co-stars and denied her rightful place on the prelim ballot, making it impossible for her to be nominated. (Oh, good God Logan, get over it!) That's not to say that the work of the six nominees isn't superb. In fact, it's too superb. But Y&R's Michelle Stafford — who submitted the eppy where Phyllis rips Nick a new one over his pathetic obsession with Sharon — is just too scathingly, blazingly brilliant to ignore. Likeliest Upset: I hope it's All My Children's Debbi Morgan (Angie), though I won't be disappointed — or surprised — no matter who hits the podium.

Outstanding Supporting Actor: No contest here. GH's Jonathan Jackson has this one in the bag. His episode, where Lucky confronted Liz and Nikolas about their affair, is brutal, searing and achingly revelatory. And it just can't be matched, no way, no how. Likeliest Upset: None. But without JJ in the race, One Life to Live's Brian Kerwin might have triumphed here. Charlie's admission to Viki that he's back on the booze made for some really sad, fab drama.

Outstanding Supporting Actress: There's a whole lot of fury and boo-hooing in this category, so I suspect the judges may go with the odd girl out — All My Children's Melissa Claire Egan. Her submission finds nutjob Annie squirming like crazy, caught in her own web of sexual deceit, and being grilled by a highly suspicious Erica Kane. Egan delivers a taut, fresh, multi-faceted performance that is constantly fascinating. Plus, she's hot. Likeliest Upset: I'm guessing The Young and the Restless' Tricia Cast is the mightiest runner-up. Her episode has Nina reeling from the murder of her his brother! But don't forget, historically this is almost always the WTF? category.

Outstanding Younger Actor: B&B's Scott Clifton. After strong work (and earning nominations) on GH and OLTL, he'll at last score metal for the episodes where Liam learns that dirtwad Bill Spencer is his birth dad. It's riveting, vastly enjoyable, classically soapy stuff. And who can resist Clifton's glorious puss? Likeliest Upset: With slim pickings in the category, it has to be GH's Chad Duell (Michael). If the Emmys were based on the entire year's worth of work, the emotionally devastating Duell would be a shoo-in. But his oddly-chosen and all-too-brief submission (a mere five minutes long!) was good but by no means great.

Outstanding Younger Actress: It's GH's Lexi Ainsworth, by a mile. She is simply soul-shattering as the battered mob daughter Kristina, who finally 'fesses up to her parents about the hell she's living through. Still conflicted, still in love with her jerk boyfriend, still doomed to make stupid mistakes, Kristina has the makings of an epic soap character for the ages. (Or until September 2012, whichever comes first.) Likeliest Upset: Again, none. AMC's Brittany Allen (Marissa) does her best, which ain't enough. Y&R's Emily O'Brien (Jana) screams a lot and then gets stuffed in a box. Is this all it takes to be nominated these days?

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