Leading the charge among the breakout stars of the year was 31-year-old Ryan Gosling: leading man, musician, and major heartthrob. He looked buff in the buff in the comedy "Crazy Stupid Love," played a power-hungry press secretary in George Clooney's political thriller "Ides of March" and drove his Chevy to the levy in "Drive." Plus, he drives the ladies wild.
"Hot. Ryan Gosling is insanely hot!" said People Magazine's assistant managing editor Kate Coyne. "But he additionally has a red hot career."
Emma Stone emerged as a star in 2011 in "The Help," the film based on the sensational best-selling book that was the summer's sleeper hit. Stone, 23, starred as a white writer exposing the treatment of black maids in 1960's Mississippi.
"In 'The Help,' Emma Stone made the transition from that funny girl in the teen movies, like 'Easy A' and 'Superbad,' to a person you could actually take seriously in a real film," said Current TV host and writer Brett Erlich.
Emma Stone got some help in "The Help" from one of Hollywood's best kept secrets: Octavia Spencer, a breakout star at 41. Spencer's memorable performance as maid Minny Jackson is already generating awards show buzz.
"This was a huge year for Octavia Spencer, and really for the movie 'The Help,'" said Jen Garcia, People Magazine assistant editor."There is early Oscar talk for her, and I really think she has a chance to walk away with it."
Actress Melissa McCarthy was bold, brash and unabashed in this year's blockbuster comedy "Bridesmaids." The 41-year-old comedienne made a name for herself on the small screen this year as well, winning her first Emmy for outstanding lead actress on the sitcom "Mike and Molly."
"Triumphant!" said Coyne of the moment. "She literally was crowned the new queen of television. And finally, the nice girl finishes first."
"Here's the thing about Melissa McCarthy," said Peter Castro, deputy managing editor at People Magazine. "A lot of people compare her to Roseanne Barr. I think we should be comparing her to John Belushi. And I mean that in a good way. Because you know if you can belch, pass wind, have diarrhea in a sink, and be funny -- that's talent."
"Bridesmaids" was the brainchild of another breakout star -- 38-year-old Kristen Wiig -- who co-wrote the script about a sometimes rude and often crude, miserable maid of honor. Even before "Bridesmaids," Wiig was a standout on "Saturday Night Live," where for seven seasons she's poked fun at everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Kathie Lee Gifford. Next, she'll be getting in touch with her serious side, starring opposite Robert De Niro in a drama ironically called "The Comedian."
From the "It Girl" to "The New Girl." On the quirky Fox comedy, Zooey Deschanel plays a woman who moves in with a trio of single guys she found on Craigslist. It's a modern take on "Three's Company," turned on its head.
"'The New Girl' is one of the most popular shows of the new primetime season," said Erlich. "So Zooey went from being the object of affection for a lot of nerdy guys in movies, to being the object of a lot of nerdy guys on television."
"Revenge" might be a dish best served cold, but the star of this ABC drama is on this year's hot list. Emily VanCamp plays Emily Thorne, a vengeful vigilante out to seek retribution on the people who caused the destruction of her family and the death of her father. VanCamp, 25, previously starred on "Brothers and Sisters" and "Everwood."
"She popped up in this incredible show 'Revenge,' and it's been really a breakout hit of the year," said Garcia.
"American Idol" champ Scotty McCreery's debut album, "Clear As Day," has sold more than a half million copies and has been at the top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart since its October release. In 2012, McCreery will head out on tour with Brad Paisley.
"You're going from reality TV star, and you have to cross that bridge to country music singer," McCreery told Robin Roberts earlier this year. "So I've gotta work hard and try to make that bridge and try to go across to being that country music singer and staying on the charts and staying around for awhile to make music."
"Super Bass" hip hop artist Nicki Minaj's over the top get-ups were the most-Googled Halloween costumes this year, complete with YouTube tutorials on how to best resemble the 29-year-old rapper.
"If you put Katy Perry and 'Lil Kim into a blender, Nicki Minaj would come out of it," said Castro.
"She's the first artist to have seven singles in the hot 100, and the first female artist to have a number one song in the hot 100 rap list, since 2002," said Erlich.
Rooney Mara's breakout role is coming at the very end of 2011, but is sure to make the young actress a household name. Mara stars as Lisbeth Salandar in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," the firm film based on Stieg Larsson's blockbuster "Millennium Trilogy" books.
And British pop star Adele is rolling in dough thanks to her Grammy-nominated hit "Rolling in the Deeo" off the quadruple-platinum selling album "21."
"I think her record is one of those rare, rare records that hipsters and grandmothers both like and probably for the same reason," said Larry Hackett, People Magazine's managing editor. "I think the songs are incredibly well crafted, her voice is incredibly pure, and every single song is great."
But that pure voice might have been pushed too far during a grueling world tour, forcing the 23-year-old singer to undergo surgery last month for a vocal hemorrhage.
"It was terrible luck, because she was white hot, and then she got these throat problems, and had to cancel shows, and just when she was gaining this momentum, you know, this thing happened. But she's so young. We are going to see so much more of her," said Castro.
It's a safe bet we'll be seeing much more of all these fresh faces and breakout stars in 2012.