Entertainment Weekly has spoken. After a banner year — in pop culture, not politics — filled with groundbreaking steps towards greater diversity, parity, and all-around originality, there were countless performers who contributed to making Hollywood a better place. But, as always, a few have risen above the fold.
Your faithful EW editors couldn’t pick just one entertainer to hold the crown, so we chose four cover stars. Or, technically, 10 cover stars if you’re doing the math.
The women of Crazy Rich Asians
The women of Crazy Rich Asians — Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, and Gemma Chan — grace the first iteration, which honors their reign as the queens of summer. While Henry Golding contributed a standout performance, it was the movie’s female counterparts who captivated audiences, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
And speaking of cash, our second cover star didn’t do too shabby in 2018. Cardi B had arguably the best year in music, thanks to her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, going double platinum. The 26-year-old also surpassed Beyoncé to become the first woman to have five top 10 singles. And she achieved all that in the same year she got married and gave birth.
Darren Criss, who graces our third cover, didn’t tackle parenthood, but he did have a completely transformational year. After building a name as a song-and-dance man — thanks mostly in part to his time starring on Glee — he caught the attention of prestige TV fans and Emmy voters alike in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. His portrayal of killer Andrew Cunanan, under the watchful eye of director Ryan Murphy, spooked even the biggest American Horror Story devotees.
The women of Black Panther
On our fourth cover we honor the women of Black Panther. It says a lot about a film that here, almost a year after it first hit theaters, we are still just as enamored as we were at our first viewing. Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, and Letitia Wright completely stole the show during the revolutionary superhero flick, and seem to have inspired the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make great strides in the strong female lead department.
But the honorees don’t stop there — we were so in awe of this year’s performances, so see the rest of the list below.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga teamed up to revamp the classic musical A Star Is Born and there wasn’t a dry eye in America. Sam Elliott, who plays Cooper’s brother in the film, took over for the EW editors to explain just what makes their pairing — and this stage in their careers — so special.
Donald Glover blazed a path all his own in 2018, from raising the bar on season 2 of Atlanta to releasing perhaps the most honest portrayal of the state of our nation with “This Is America.” Lena Waithe, who first met the actor/rapper in 2015, tells us what he means to her.
John Krasinski and Emily Blunt
When it comes to teamwork nobody in Hollywood holds a candle to John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. They’ve been building their own individual movie stardom — with roles in Jack Ryan and Mary Poppins Returns, to name a few — but it’s their joint venture, A Quiet Place, that solidified their place on the Entertainers of the Year list. The couple’s longtime pal Matt Damon explains why they’re just getting started.
There aren’t really words to describe the year Ariana Grande has had — but, luckily for us, Troye Sivan found them. The singer and Ariana collaborator spoke glowingly to EW about her strength, her growth, and her talent.
Queer Eye’s Fab 5
If you didn’t spend at least half of 2018 bawling your eyes out while watching the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye, did you even do 2018 at all? Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, and Antoni Porowski — a.k.a. the Fab Five — changed the hearts and minds of America while also making their guests a little bit more stylish — and The Good Place‘s D’Arcy Carden wants to know where they’ve been all her life.
The Big Little Lies actress is everywhere this award season — she’s taking on the superhero genre in Aquaman and tackling indie drama with roles in Boy Erased and Destroyer. The theme of motherhood stands out among all of her 2018 accomplishments, and her Destroyer director Karyn Kusama says it’s all because of her willingness to be open and gutsy at the same time.
Is there anything more fulfilling than having Sandra Oh back on television? And to top it off, in an epic leading role. Killing Eve has earned her many praises and fans, and chief among those comes from Schitt’s Creek‘s Daniel Levy, who explains his love to EW.
The world at large doesn’t deserve Christine Baranski (especially in 2018) but there is one person, in particular, who does: Audra McDonald. The six-time Tony winner (and her The Good Fight costar) sings the praises of the 13-time Emmy nominee.
For more on Entertainment Weekly’s 2018 Entertainers of the Year, pick up the latest issue when it hits stands on Friday, or buy all four covers now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.