This time two years ago, no one had heard of Jennifer Lawrence. But her rise to fame started early in 2011 with a coral-colored bang: on the red carpet of the 2011 Academy Awards she was nominated for her performance in Winter's Bone—and on all the best dressed lists that followed. In addition to pulling off a blockbuster Calvin Klein dress, Lawrence proved in 2012 she could pull off a blockbuster movie—playing Katniss in the start of the Hunger Games trilogy—as well as carry a dark, critically-acclaimed dramedy, Silver Linings Playbook. Many Oscar-watchers predict the Playbook will secure Lawrence another nomination and a chance follow up on that dress. [MORE: Oscars to Stay in Same Theatre for 20 More Years]
British Boy Bands
The Millennial Generation had its own British Invasion this year in the form of adorable boy bands from across the Atlantic. Now I'm not saying that "Glad You Came" and "What Makes You Beautiful" can claim the power and longevity of "Yesterday" or "Gimme Shelter" (but let's just say that One Direction is the Millennial version of The Beatles and The Wanted the Millennial version of The Rolling Stones). The two groups revived the boy band genre—dormant since its early 2000s N*SYNC/Backstreet Boys hay day—with cute English and Irish accents to boot. In addition selling millions of albums and breaking Today show attendance records, a member of One Direction is dating Taylor Swift, 21st century America's Patti Boyd. Here's hoping neither band meets their Yoko Ono any time soon.
You can debate whether Lena Dunham unfairly portrays her generation as lazy, whiny, and bad at sex, or whether her show Girls is racist. But one thing is not up for debate: The 26-year-old writer/producer/actress is obscenely successful. In 2012 alone, Dunham created a hit HBO show, now picked up for a second season; secured a $3.7 million book advance; and accrued a boatload of Emmy nominations (not to mention a scene-stealing appearance, naked on a toilet eating a cake, in the award show's opening sequence).
Frank Ocean's performance of "Thinking About You" at this year's MTV Video Music Awards will be remembered for his haunting falsetto, emotional delivery, and the beautiful staging. But before Ocean opened even his mouth to perform the hit off his album Channel Orange, its liner notes, posted initially on Ocean's blog, had already gained accolades for the singer/songwriter. In them, Ocean admitted his first love had been a man, which many music critics noted was a milestone in the R&B community where LGBT voices have been relatively quiet, though not all together absent. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift didn't exactly start 2012 flat footed. She has been looking surprised while winning awards for nearly half a decade. Nevertheless, it was a banner year for the country star as she cemented her crossover from country crooner to mainstream star: Release a double platinum album Red? Check. Top Forbes's highest paid celebrities under 30? Check. Date ( and dump) a Kennedy? Check. And Swift will likely be flashing the surprise face in 2013 as she has been nominated for three more Grammy awards (and that's with Red not being in this cycle of consideration).
There is nothing America wants more for Christmas than a Lilo comeback. It's be on the top of our list since 2008. But 2012 disappointed us again. Just last month, she starred in a Lifetime movie about Elizabeth Taylor. We all knew it was going to be terrible, but at least we would be talking about that and not her barroom antics. Until a few days after the premiere she was arrested for (allegedly) punching someone. So there goes that. Maybe next year Santa will deliver? Tom Cruise
The action star and Scientology guru reportedly was blindsided--like was minding his own business in Iceland, wearing his wedding ring--when his wife, Katie Holmes filed for divorce. Now she's looking all cute trotting around New York with sassy Suri while he struggles with a career comeback. Cruise's summer vehicle, Rock of Ages was a bust. Now his latest film—a violent, gun-filled adaptation of the British "Jack Reacher" literary series— has been overshadowed by its ill-timed release, days after the Sandy Hook shooting. And he's still only 5'7" tall.