This year saw the birth of Kimye progeny North West, Miley Cyrus’s controversial twerkfest, the rise of a frowny feline and plenty of other fascinating celebrity moments and sagas.
Before we usher in 2014, we present the stars who won 2013 – and those who’ve seen better times.
Best Breakout: Lorde
At just 16, the New Zealand pop phenom, born Ella Yelich-O Connor, released a critically acclaimed album, topped the billboard charts with her hit “Royals” and inspired myriad online tributes. Her first week as a 17-year-old – which included lunching with Taylor Swift, performing a stunning cover of Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough” and lending her voice to the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack – wasn’t too shabby either.
Best Family Planning: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Four months after the much-anticipated birth of baby North, Kanye surprised Kim with an over-the-top proposal in San Francisco’s AT&T Park, involving a Jumbotron, a jumbo ring and a live orchestra. When they weren’t changing clothes, they were taking off their clothes … er, we mean, celebrating their love in a steamy music video. Could baby no. 2 be far off?
Worst Year in Crises: The Rest of the Kardashian Clan
Meanwhile, back at the Kardashian family compound, times have been tough. From Kris and Bruce Jenner s separation, to Lamar Odom‘s battle with substance abuse issues, to Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s alleged underage partying, the other Kardashians haven’t fared as well. Even Scott Disick is having a rough go of it. Fortunately, the family came together to spread yuletide cheer in Keeping Up With the Kardashians: A Very Merry Christmas, airing Dec. 1.
Best Baby Debut: George Alexander Louis
The new heir to England’s throne nearly broke the Internet this summer, generating even more buzz than that other famous newborn, North West. In fact, the royal birth generated more than 25,000 related tweets per minute at one point. No word on how many of them concerned the similarity between the infant’s name and that of Seinfeld character George Louis Costanza.
Best Name in Credits: Benedict Cumberbatch
While his roles in Sherlock and Star Trek into Darkness have earned him a devoted following, his moniker has been an endless source of amusement on the Web, inspiring parodies such as a Cumberbatchian name generator. (For the record, we got “Bouillabaisse Curdledmilk.”)
Best Year with the Worst Attitude: Grumpy Cat
Despite gracing magazine covers and even nabbing a Lifetime Achievement Award, the famous feline (née Tardar Sauce) has remained curiously despondent. Yet she’s unquestionably influential: Even Larry David was caught imitating the perpetually displeased pet.
Best McConaussaince: Matthew McConaughey
Twenty years after his big-screen debut in Dazed and Confused, the father of three is generating Oscar buzz for his transformative performance in Dallas Buyers Club (which included dropping 47 lbs. in three months). “I really was intrigued by this wild, almost redneck Texan who was trying to be Scarface – drug-smuggling, dealing and rolling in the cash, trying to stay alive,” McConaughey told PEOPLE of his role in the film. “He was a bad ass.”
Simultaneous Best and Worst Year: Miley Cyrus
2013 saw a double dose of hit singles for the newly 21 singer, whose album Bangerz debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. But the year’s most talked-about performer also made headlines for her joint-smoking, teddy bear-twerking antics, and for her publicized split from fiancé Liam Hemsworth. The low point? When the inventor of the foam finger expressed disappointment that Cyrus “degraded” his creation in her sexed-up VMAs performance.
Worst Ovenside Manner: Paula Deen
The celebrity chef was dropped by the Food Network and lost various endorsement deals after admitting to using racial slurs in a discrimination lawsuit this summer. Despite the media firestorm, Deen cooked up a positive spin: “We all experience pain in some way,” she said in September, “but pain is also a good thing because it makes you grow.”
Most Un-Beliebable Antics: Justin Bieber
It’s been a weird year for the 19-year-old, who was seen urinating into a mop bucket and cursing at a photo of Bill Clinton, expressing hope that Anne Frank would’ve been his devoted fan, collapsing onstage during a show and facing a drug bust in Sweden. Even an educational visit to the Great Wall of China was met with mockery when photos surfaced of the able-bodied teen being carried by his bodyguards.
Worst Anger Management: Chris Brown
The Grammy-winning R&B singer, still on probation for his 2009 beating of then-girlfriend Rihanna, was arrested on a felony assault charge in Washington D.C. in October following an altercation outside the W Hotel. In November, he was sentenced to 90 days of rehab after being booted from a treatment center for throwing a rock through his mother’s car window.
Best Proof You Can Have It All: Kerry Washington
Washington has a lot to celebrate this year: her hit TV series Scandal, her June wedding to 49ers cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and a baby on the way. “I’m really happy,” Washington told PEOPLE in July. “I’m blessed in all areas of my life.”
Best Awards Show Darling: Jennifer Lawrence
Along with nabbing top honors for Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence charmed audiences with her refreshingly candid sense of humor (“I beat Meryl!”) and self-deprecating one-liners. She even managed to laugh after taking a tumble en route to the podium to accept the vaunted Best Actress award at the Oscars. Most recently, the outspoken stunner added record-breaker to her growing list of superlatives, as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pulled in over $161 million at the box office, besting all previous November release records. We expect another awards sweep in 2014.