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It's hard to believe that Emma Stone started 2010 best known as ''that girl from Zombieland.'' But that all changed with her first starring role as the quick-witted Olive in Easy A, a raunchy high school comedy that grossed an unexpected $58 million. She worked hard to get that role but judging by all the A-list roles she's landed since — Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Man reboot, Skeeter Phelan in an adaptation of the best-seller The Help, and Ryan Gosling's love interest in the Steve Carell rom-com Crazy? Stupid Love, all due next year — fighting for parts may now be a thing of the past. ?
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As the scrappy teenage heroine of the indie Winter's Bone, Jennifer Lawrence, 20, imbued her first big film role with an astonishing maturity that's made her a safe bet for a Best Actress Oscar nom. ''The physical things were what I was most worried about: chopping the wood, skinning the squirrel, the guns. I wanted to technically get it right,'' Lawrence says of filming in rural Missouri. Next spring she'll appear in the Mel Gibson dark comedy The Beaver and will play Mystique in 2011's X-Men: First Class.
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Exactly 35 minutes into Inception, in saunters Tom Hardy as the urbane ''forger'' Eames. Coolheaded and just plain cool, Hardy swiped every scene he was in. The 33-year-old Brit — whose first major film role was in the 2002 bomb Star Trek: Nemesis — will next star opposite Reese Witherspoon in This Means War. And he's reportedly set to reteam with Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises.
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As wannabe superhero Dave Lizewski, British-born Aaron Johnson, 20, flawlessly flipped from teenage gawkiness to comic-book bravado in the action-packed ode to fanboy gusto Kick-Ass. He then took a poignant turn as a young John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. Next up: Johnson is shooting the period drama Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close and Mia Wasikowska.
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Chloë Grace Moretz
Chloë Grace Moretz, 13, shocked audiences with her performance as Kick-Ass' foulmouthed mini-assassin Hit Girl, and then sank her teeth into the role of a lonely vampire in Let Me In. Next up: Moretz is in Martin Scorsese?s ? fantasy Hugo Cabret (out in ? December 2011) with Sacha Baron Cohen. ?
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No character on The Good Wife is more complex and mysterious than Archie Panjabi's ? tenacious investigator Kalinda Sharma. Is she a lesbian? Where'd she come from? Is she going to kill — or make out with — fellow investigator Blake (Scott Porter)? Those questions are what keep us wanting more from Panjabi, who won an Emmy for the role.
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It took about 2 minutes and 11 seconds on Glee for ?Darren Criss to turn into a bona fide Gleek ?phenomenon. That tiny snippet of time was the length of Criss? cover of ''Teenage Dream,'' which became the Fox hit's fastest-selling single yet. ''It was a blast,'' says the 23-year-old of tackling the Katy Perry tune. ''I can't tell you how grateful I am.'' ? And it doesn't hurt that his character Blaine's warm relationship with the show's other openly gay character, Chris Colfer's Kurt, continues to resonate with fans.
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On this season of The Vampire Diaries, Nina Dobrev successfully pulled off playing double duty: as the sweet, soft-spoken Elena we grew to love in season 1 and, most impressively, as Elena's sexy, manipulative vampire doppelgänger, Katherine. The long hours have left Dobrev, 21, sleep-deprived and bruised (this kitty likes to scratch), and, she jokes, ''I almost have split-personality dis?order.''
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The 37-year-old English thesp, who plays lawman Rick Grimes on AMC?s The Walking Dead, has been working steadily in British film and TV for well over a decade and was perhaps ? best known Stateside for his small but memorable role as the hopeless romantic with a crush on Keira Knightley in Love Actually.
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Nikita may not be winning in the ratings but the 31-year-old star is winning over viewers with her lithe and lovely portrayal of rogue assassin Nikita. Says Q, ''I was out shopping and these women come up to me and go, 'You are badass, girl!' It just makes me laugh because I'm, like, 90 pounds soaking wet.''
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We rang in 2010 dancing to Ke$ha?s trashy jam ''TiK ToK,'' which reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 at the beginning of the year and stayed there for nine straight weeks. (''TiK ToK'' stands as the seventh-most digitally downloaded song ever.) The 23-year-old?s first album, Animal, debuted at No. 1 and spawned three more top 10 hits. A follow-up mini-album, Cannibal — with its own No. 1 single, ''We R Who We R'' — dropped in November. ?
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2010 proved that the 16-year-old star Justin Bieber is no passing fad. His second album, My World 2.0, hit No. 1, and on Nov. 21 he beat out a pack of grown-ups for Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards. He ?may have a while to go before he's old enough to vote, but after this year, Bieber's mark on pop culture is too big to be confined to the kids' table anymore.
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His catchy No. 1 album B.o.B Presents: The ?Adventures of Bobby Ray generated three ?giant hits: sweet love song ''Nothin' on You'' (featuring Bruno Mars), the moody rock-flavored ''Airplanes'' (featuring Paramore's Hayley Williams), and the breezy party jam ''Magic'' (featuring Weezer's? Rivers Cuomo). ''This is the stuff you dream about as an artist,'' the 22-year-old rapper told us in March.
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Hillary Scott, ?24, Charles Kelley, 29, and Dave Haywood, 28, started 2010 by earning a Grammy for ''I Run ?to You'' and ended it by nabbing six nominations for their album Need You Now and its ?massive title track. ?
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Though her debut album didn't come out until November, Nicki Minaj, 26, was absolutely? everywhere. A whopping 11 singles featuring her alone or as a guest hit the Hot 100 in the past 12 months. When Pink Friday was finally released, it racked up 375,000 in first-week sales?the highest tally for a female hip-hop artist since Lauryn Hill?s 1998 solo disc.
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Bruno Mars, 25, lent his voice to two blockbuster singles (B.o.B's ''Nothin' on You'' and Travie ?McCoy's ''Billionaire''), then scored a No. 1 on his own (''Just the Way ? You Are''). The singer-songwriter also co-wrote and co-produced Cee Lo Green's ''F--- You.'' He topped it all off with seven Grammy nods. ''It's called world domination,'' he joked in a September interview. ''That's what we're trying to do.''