No. 10: Sharon Case, The Young and the Restless
No matter what the various writing regimes at CBS Daytime's The Young and the Restless throw at her, Sharon Case makes it work. In 2014, Sharon Newman survived gaslighting at the hands of her evil ex-father-in-law/ex-husband Victor Newman (Eric Braeden). She learned Mariah (Camryn Grimes), the Cassie lookalike Victor hired to achieve the aforementioned gaslighting, was actually her daughter. She underwent electroshock therapy to get her bipolar disorder under control and fought her way back to sanity and true love Nicholas Newman (Joshua Morrow).
Late in the year, Sharon's worst nightmare came true. Mortal enemy Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) awoke from her coma and snatched Sharon's happily-ever-after fairy tale away from her, quicker than you could say "switched DNA results". It's a wonder the character is still standing and a testament to her portrayer that we're still able to root for the girl from Madison.
No. 9: Lauren Koslow, Days of Our Lives
Lauren Koslow simply does not get the accolades she deserves. As sultry businesswoman Kate Roberts on NBC's Days of Our Lives, Koslow was one-half of the feline dream team who had the lionhearted DiMera men for breakfast in 2014.
Kate and her sometimes daughter-in-law Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) managed a fete John Black (Drake Hogestyn) and brothers Roman (Josh Taylor) and Bo Brady (Peter Reckell) have been attempting to accomplish for almost four decades — they toppled Stefano (Joe Mascolo). As a bonus, they also greatly neutralized his heir apparent son EJ (James Scott). Even better, Koslow and Sweeney looked like they were having a ball while doing it. Sweeney is long gone from Salem, but here's hoping the powers that be realize what a solo treasure they have in Koslow.
No. 8: Nancy Lee Grahn, General Hospital
Alexis Davis got more ass in the afternoon than any other woman in soaps this past season on ABC Daytime's General Hospital; making 50-something Nancy Lee Grahn the new poster child for Daytime TV sex. Take that, Madison Avenue!
Unlike her peers, Alexis isn't sitting around cooing at the grandchildren, or fretting over her daughters' love lives. She still has quite the viable and erotic romantic options of her own — torn between pretty boy mobster Julian Jerome (William deVry) and dimpled, aging prep Ned Ashton (Wally Kurth). Okay, who are we kidding. Alexis isn't torn, Grahn isn't torn and neither are we. Give us Julexis, already!
No. 7: Jen Lilley, Days of Our Lives
Jen Lilley truly came into her own as an actress on Days of Our Lives in 2014. The future leading lady adeptly gave life to Theresa Donovan’s every heinous scheme, stunt and manipulation. She also made us root for her to find love with fellow hot mess Brady Black (Eric Martsolf).
Lilley’s chemistry with Martsolf only grew with every twist and turn of Theresa and Brady’s relationship. Even after Lilley knocked Brady's dad unconscious and framed the hunk for the assault, we couldn't stop hoping Theresa would come out on top. We predict big things for Lilley and Theresa in 2015.
Purchase a copy of Lilley and Martsolf's version of the holiday hit, "Baby It's Cold Outside" on iTunes.
No. 6: Mishael Morgan, The Young and the Restless
We've all but erased Hilary Curtis's ridiculous, evil blogger, origin story from our minds, and we have bombshell starlet Mishael Morgan to thank for that. Okay, and the writers too!
In 2014, Hilary found her humanity and the affections of two men she previously tormented, Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John) and his son Devon Hamilton (Bryton James).
Hilary also found a worthy rival in Neil's daughter Lily (Christel Khalil). The storyline was soap opera gold, and had us likening Morgan's character to another dark, gritty young woman who squared off with a bitchy adult daughter in pursuit of a good man — Another World's Rachel Davis (Victoria Wyndham).
Unlike Rachel, whose love affair with an older man proved her romantic destiny, Hilary's heart would ultimately belong to Devon. Morgan and James share the kind of sexual heat the Winters family hasn't been able to generate since Victoria Rowell (ex-Dru) and Shemar Moore (ex-Malcolm) left the serial. It's about doggone time.
No. 5: Rena Sofer, The Bold and the Beautiful
How great of a year did Rena Sofer have on The Bold and the Beautiful? Sofer's Quinn Fuller was one of the most compelling reasons to watch the half-hour CBS soap in 2014.
Quinn managed to bust up Bill (Don Diamont) and Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), by sending Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) to the United Arab Emirates (and almost to a watery grave). She stalked and almost stabbed Liam (Scott Clifton). Pushed Ivy (Ashleigh Brewer) into the River Seine and still had time to make jewelry and have kinky sex with Deacon Sharpe (Sean Kanan).
Near the close of 2014, it was Quinn's unrelenting obsession with her son Wyatt (Darin Brooks) and pregnant daughter-in-law Hope (Kim Matula) that almost proved her undoing. Sofer made us ache for Quinn, after Hope forbade her mother-in-law from coming anywhere near her or her unborn child.
Quinn, who had raised a son on her own, desperately needed the connection of her growing family. All she wanted was one more chance.
Unfortunately, one confrontation with Hope too many proved fatal for the grandchild Quinn wanted so desperately to get to know. We won't soon forget Quinn on the roof of her design warehouse, contemplating suicide. If there's any justice, neither will Daytime Emmy voters.
No. 4: Michelle Stafford, General Hospital
Michelle Stafford is an old pro at making fans feel for bat shit crazy soap characters. The former The Young and the Restless icon gave a tour de force performance as General Hospital’s insane Nina Clay in 2014.
After awakening from a 20-year coma, Nina quickly laid waste to husband Silas Clay's (Michael Easton) romance with Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco). She went toe-to-toe with Ava Jerome (fellow juggernaut Maura West)—in a rivalry we hope grows in 2015—and found an incredible screen partner in Roger Howarth's all-but-irredeemable Franco.
As if entertaining us five-days-a-week on GH wasn't enough, the actress also offered up The Stafford Project, a hilarious webisodic sitcom spoofing her life as a soap opera star-turned-single mom.
No. 3: Alison Sweeney, Days of Our Lives
Alison Sweeney spent almost 22 glorious years as Samantha Brady on Days of Our Lives. The superstar managed to keep us on the edge of our seats right up to her last episode.
During her final season on the soap opera, Sweeney's Sami battled sociopath Nick Fallon (Blake Berris), dealt with her brother being raped by her sister-in-law, teamed up with old rival Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow), faced EJ's (James Scott) infidelity and ultimately had to mourn the loss of the man she'd loved for eight years.
We aren't crazy about the way the writers decided to wrap up Sami's story (sending her and her passel of children off to Hollywood to make movies and/or a reality show), but there is no denying Sweeney was the consummate entertainer every step of the way. We can't wait to see what she does next.
No. 2: Eileen Davidson, Days of Our Lives
No one worked harder or entertained more on television in 2014 than Eileen Davidson. She won the Daytime Emmy for her mind-blowing turn as maniac Kristen DiMera on Days of Our Lives. Then she reprised her signature role of ethereal cosmetics heiress Ashley Abbott on CBS Daytime's The Young and the Restless.
In her spare time, Davidson managed to take the reality television world by storm, making headlines as reportedly the highest paid personality in the history of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. We think Ryan Seacrest and Kevin Hart could learn a thing or two from our Ms. Davidson on multitasking!
No. 1: Maura West, General Hospital
We defy anyone to find video proof of Maura West ever phoning in a performance. Even in scenes most thespians would consider insignificant filler, daytime television's strongest current leading lady is 110 percent present. This phenomenon was clearly evident in 2014 on General Hospital, as former mob queen Ava Jerome desperately fought to stay alive.
As a parallel, West fought to keep her character relevant amid a slew of new storylines and larger-than-life characters. Ava, who manipulated, maimed and murdered with glee in 2013, could have easily been lost among a sea of doppelgangers, evil eye necklaces and mental patients this past year.
Pregnant and not sure if the baby's father was Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard)—the rival mob boss who wanted her dead—or his son Morgan (Bryan Craig), Ava was without a power base. The only weapon she had was growing inside her, and she used her expertly.
Even as her baby daughter was ripped from her womb by a madwoman, Ava continued to fight valiantly. Later, when Sonny finally had her cornered, Ava nor West ever lost sight of the ultimate goal — staying alive.