No. 10: Bryton James, The Young and the Restless
We spent years teasing him about all those Outstanding Younger Actor Daytime Emmy nominations, but there's no denying The Young and the Restless star Bryton James earned his spot among the most entertaining male soap performers of 2014. Nouveau riche Devon Hamilton's insatiable lust for his stepmother was Y&R's sudsiest tale last year. Anchored by the chemistry James shares with leading lady Mishael Morgan (Hilary), the saga of "Hevon" was thirsty, forbidden fun.
No. 9: Sean Kanan, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful
General Hospital's loss was The Bold and the Beautiful's gain when it came to Sean Kanan. The ABC soap opted to kill off Kanan's wildly popular character, AJ Quartermaine, not even a year-and-a-half into his return engagement. Before he exited the serial, Kanan gave a killer performance as a man haunted by demons and a crime he didn't commit.
Shortly after being let go by GH, Kanan returned to one of his other soap homes, CBS Daytime's The Bold and the Beautiful. He reprised the role of bad boy charmer Deacon Sharpe, a man who infamously fathered a child with his wife's mother!
Deacon returned to Los Angeles wanting to make up for lost time with daughter Hope (Kim Matula) and her mother, the unforgettable Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang). Kanan excelled at showing a kinder, gentler Deacon to the Logan women, while still managing to square off against macho publisher Dollar Bill Spencer (Don Diamont) for Brooke's hand.
It was opposite fellow GH alum Rena Sofer where Kanan proved most mesmerizing in 2014. In off-kilter bauble maker Quinn Fuller, Deacon found a kindred spirit and a raunchy bed mate. We thoroughly enjoyed the slow burn of Quinn and Deacon's unlikely romance in 2014 and can only hope it heats up on the front burner in 2015.
No. 8: Chad Duell and Bryan Craig, General Hospital (Tie)
While he hasn't had much to do of interest this winter, the first half of 2014 was a great time for Bryan Craig and his alter ego Morgan Corinthos on General Hospital. Morgan proved to be one of the smartest men in soaps, when he instantly outed his lover for banging his dad in a crypt. No months and months of playing the cuckold for this guy!
Craig was phenomenal, as Morgan faced Ava (Maura West) and Sonny's (Maurice Benard) ugly betrayal. Later, Morgan discovered the woman he loves was pregnant with a child that either belonged to him or his father.
How would a guy barely out of his teens deal with being a dad under such vile circumstances? Morgan may not have been mature enough to be a father, but Craig proved once again in 2014 he can hold his own alongside the soap's biggest stars.
TV brother Chad Duell has been a punching bag here at Daytime Confidential for the last few years. We admit it. We preferred Drew Garrett's emotive, irrational Michael over the sighing, contemplative fuddy duddy Duell gave us.
The year 2014 offered Duell the chance to finally show what he's made of. When Michael learned his adopted dad slaughtered his biological father—and that his mother covered it up—Duell's Michael exploded in a fury of rage, hurt and pent up sexual frustration. Michael Corinthos III is dead. Long live Michael Alan Quartermaine.
No. 7: Tony Geary, General Hospital
Some of Daytime Confidential's podcast co-hosts weren't fans of General Hospital's Fluke caper in 2014. Even still, Anthony Geary had a ball with the dual role and did his best work since a drunken Luke accidentally killed his grandson on the soap a few seasons ago.
The scenes where the mysterious Fluke visited the real Luke Spencer in Miscavige were absolutely enthralling. Daytime's greatest antihero was rendered a blithering, drug-addled mess, while his sinister lookalike taunted him mercilessly.
We don't not know who Fluke is. And, yes, we desperately want this never-ending, over-the-top story to wrap up pronto. But to deny Geary's stellar performance would be a crime worthy of Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) locking us up and Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner) throwing the book at us.
No. 6: Roger Howarth, General Hospital
General Hospital wasn't short on loathsome characters played by incredible actors in 2014. As in the case of Fluke (Anthony Geary), the Daytime Confidential crew has never been big fans of Franco (Roger Howarth).
At least that was true until the maniac blew up his ill-advised relationship with Carly (Laura Wright) and caused Michael Corinthos III's (Chad Duell) balls to finally drop. He accomplished this by showing a tape with Sonny (Maurice Benard) confessing to AJ's (Sean Kanan) murder at his tacky wedding to Carly.
Howarth delivered Franco's lines like a gleeful, Southern Baptist preacher. He offered up fire, brimstone and even a bit of salvation for the soon-to-be re-christened Michael Alan Quartermaine. Franco dismantled Carly and Sonny's family brick-by-brick at that wedding. Like watching a 10-car pile up on the freeway, we couldn't look away.
Once Franco was done with the Corinthos family, he temporarily forged a new clan of his own with fellow loon Nina Clay (Michelle Stafford) and the baby she abducted. It was like Luke and Laura (Genie Francis) on the run all over again — only if Luke was a serial killer instead of a rapist and Laura was a crazed coma patient badly in need of a jolt of lithium.
No. 5: Eric Braeden, The Young and the Restless
In a year that found many beloved The Young and the Restless characters not behaving quite like themselves, you could always count on Victor Newman to be, well, Victor Newman. Thank you, Eric Braeden.
The actor insists on playing the Victor fans know, love and sometimes love to hate, no matter how ludicrous the storyline. We are still scratching our heads about why Victor had to go overseas for a DNA test.
Braeden managed to drive home his alter ego's intense desire to uncover Sharon's (Sharon Case) secret; and uncover he did! Bitter rival Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) was too busy getting horny and/or weepy over Vivaldi with hammy Kelly (Cady McClain) to tend to a comatose Phyllis (Gina Tognoni).
Victor decided to take matters into his own hands. He tricked dim bulb Summer (Hunter King) into signing consent forms allowing him to awaken the sleeping beauty and sic her on Sharon!
Earlier in the year, Victor unleashed Mariah (Camryn Grimes)—his granddaughter Cassie's doppelganger—on Genoa City. Braeden found a worthy opponent and intriguing screen partner in Grimes. We pray the show capitalizes on their connection in 2015, by making Mariah her surrogate granddad's protégé. Lord knows he needs someone to watch his back, with Victoria (Amelia Heinle) bouncing babies and Jill (Jess Walton), Colin (Tristan Rogers) and Cane (Daniel Goddard) set to make a play for his empire!
Victor was the only person in town who showed good sense in his dealings with sinister pervert Ian Ward (Ray Wise). He hired thugs to beat the crap out of the guy, quicker than you could say "Got that?".
No. 4: Jacob Young, The Bold and the Beautiful
It's a biblical sin to covet your brother's wife and/or his gig at an international fashion house. Ridge Forrester (Thorsten Kaye) was guilty of both in 2014 on CBS Daytime's The Bold and the Beautiful, giving his kid brother Rick (Jacob Young) his juiciest storyline in ages.
Young sunk his teeth into the material centered on Rick's reaction to being betrayed by wife Caroline (Linsey Godfrey), his brother and their father, Eric (John McCook). We saw the kind of acting from him we'd come to expect during the final seasons of All My Children on ABC Daytime. On that soap, Young played another tortured son with daddy issues, JR Chandler.
Unlike JR, Rick didn't turn to booze or firearms when he felt slighted in 2014. It was the love of a good conniving woman that got him through. B&B reconnected Rick and ex-girlfriend Maya Avant (Karla Mosley), creating a new delicious scheme team out of Young and Mosley. We don't know if Rick will come out on top against Ridge in the end, but Young is already quite the winner in our eyes.
No. 3: Maurice Benard, General Hospital
General Hospital's mafia tales had grown stale after well over a decade-and-a-half of being the show's primary focus. During their first couple of years helming the soap, Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati smartly shied away from mob stories. That left top mob boss Sonny Corinthos and his portrayer, Maurice Benard, without much to do.
All of that changed in 2014, when Sonny and the mob came roaring back into focus on GH. The previous year, 90's era goodfella Julian Jerome (William deVry) returned to town with a new face and his manipulative sister in tow. Sonny finally met his match, not so much in Julian, but in the cunning, lethal Ava (Maura West).
The woman who seduced Sonny's barely legal son, set in motion the downfall of the Eastern Seaboard's most untouchable Teflon Don. Ava murdered Sonny's childhood sweetheart in cold blood and framed his adopted son's biological father for the crime.
Sonny vowed to favorite son Michael (Chad Duell) he wouldn't exact vengeance on AJ (Sean Kanan). He broke that promise when he found AJ manhandling Ava one fateful evening in her penthouse. Benard set the soap world on fire, as Sonny's mind went Helter Skelter. He confused the situation with AJ and Ava with his images of Connie's demise.
Sonny shot AJ dead, not realizing his nemesis had actually been confronting Ava with the knowledge that she was the one who killed Connie Falconeri (Kelly Sullivan). Sonny and Ava formed an illicit bond, due to their secret. Their pact culminated in an unsavory tryst in the Quartermaine crypt, which was discovered by Morgan (Bryan Craig) — Ava's boyfriend and Sonny's youngest son!
Sonny eventually learned the truth about Ava. He pledged to end her life in the same fashion she'd ended Connie's. Learning the woman was pregnant with his child (or grandchild) threw a wrench in his ruthless plans for retribution.
When he wasn't dealing with Ava and the fallout from both Connie and AJ's deaths in 2014, Sonny was facing a new threat to his territory and reconnecting with beloved ex-wife Carly (Laura Wright). It was the latter which cost Sonny everything.
Franco (Roger Howarth), Carly's jealous fiance, managed to get proof of Sonny's crime against AJ, in the form of a secret sex tape. When the lunatic played the tape at his aborted wedding to Carly, he effectively burned Sonny's family to the ground. Sonny went to prison and lost Michael, giving Benard the best material he's had to play since "Clink Boom".
No. 2: Blake Berris, Days of Our Lives
Stefano, Andre and Kristen DiMera. Orpheus. Victor Kiriakis. Ernesto Toscano. Lawrence and Vivian Alamain. Sami Brady. Satan (by way of Marlena). Nick Fallon.
In 2014, the Horton family's once lovable geek grandson joined the ranks of some of Days of Our Lives' most notoriously effective supervillains. Mad props must be paid to his portrayer, Blake Berris, for helping to make that happen.
Nick tormented gay husbands, Will (Guy Wilson) and Sonny (Freddie Smith); their baby mama, Gabi (Camila Banus), and many of their loved ones during the first half of last year. He even had gruesome twosome EJ DiMera (James Scott) and Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) shook by his impressive schemes!
Berris, one of the most talented young actors working today, applied the same skills he does when starring in a slew of indie flicks to his work on DAYS. Losing him has proven as big of blow to the canvas as the exits of Sweeney and Scott.
No. 1: James Scott, Days of Our Lives
James Scott is one of the most physically attractive actors to ever appear on daytime television. We fear that may cause some in the industry to overlook the fact that he's also one of the most talented.
As EJ, tragic heir apparent to the diabolical DiMera dynasty on NBC's Days of Our Lives, Scott gave the most entertaining performance of any male actor working in soaps in 2014. EJ's intense, sometimes unhealthy, love for Samantha Brady (Alison Sweeney), drove him to do unspeakable acts.
EJ didn't flinch at helping Sami cover multiple felonies, including murder. He even slept with another woman to try to keep her from exposing the crimes of Sami and her loved ones. Unfortunately, Sami didn't see his affair with Abigail (Kate Mansi) that way!
Even as Sami was doing everything in her power to bring EJ to his knees, Scott's performance resulted in his character holding firm to EJ's life-affirming love for this woman. It will be a long time until an actor makes us care about the happenings in Salem U.S.A., the way Scott did in 2014.