In the area of arts and entertainment, this year saw the death of one who was hugely influential though not technically an entertainer at all. Roger Ebert, who died in April, was America's most popular film critic. In his long-running TV review program and later on his blog after being sidelined by health issues. The Pulitzer Prize winner wielded the nation's most influential thumb to tell audiences which movies to see or avoid.
Fellow Chicago celebrity Larry Lujack, a radio DJ known for his world-weary, sarcastic style, died in December. Others from the entertainment world who died this year included actors James Gandolfini, Paul Walker, Cory Monteith, Peter O'Toole, Dennis Farina, Jane Kean, Annette Funicello and Jean Stapleton, musicians, George Jones, Van Cliburn, Lou Reed, Donald Byrd, Ray Manzarek, Bebo Valdes and Mindy McCready, and authors Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard.
Love it or hate it, you probably had a conversation about Cyrus in 2013. The former preteen idol's highly sexualized (and scrutinized) performances made her water-cooler chatter all year. In August, she performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she twerked her way into pop culture history in a teddy bear leotard that segues to a skimpy nude bikini.
Of course, there's the foam hand, too, the constantly stuck-out tongue and the vulgar gestures. She later parodies the performance on "Saturday Night Live" and gets into a Twitter feud with Sinead O'Connor after the singer counsels her publicly to avoid being exploited by the industry. A punk pixie cut, calling off her engagement to Liam Hemsworth and "We Can't Stop" playing nonstop on the radio, cemented her pop culture dominance, and MTV named her artist of the year.
This drama series about a high school chemistry teacher dying of cancer who turns to cooking meth retired undefeated as TV's best ever. And in the final dose of eight episodes, it was never better, concluding the five-season-long saga with near-perfection.
10.3 million viewers tuned in for the finale, 8 million more than the previous season, due to a passionate core group of fans and the ability to catch up on Netflix. "Breaking Bad" became appointment viewing when the television landscape is more fractured than ever. So when all of Walter White's nefarious deeds finally caught up to him in gut-wrenching "Bad" fashion, the nation was transfixed.
The on-demand online streaming service entered the television realm in a new way in 2013.
It became a hub of original programming with new critically acclaimed series such as "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" that changed the way television is consumed -- not one episode a week at a regularly scheduled time but an entire season made available all at once to watch at our own pace. The series brought prestige, too. "House of Cards" won an Emmy (David Fincher for best directing), and Netflix made history to become the first non-TV network to win the award. It also turned other once low-rated cable shows -- such as No. 3 "Breaking Bad" -- into ratings powerhouses by allowing viewers to catch up on the entire series, often partnering with networks to make new episodes available shortly after they aired.
Netflix ended the year with goals to push its original entertainment even further, expanding into children's programming by announcing a partnership with DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. for 300 hours of animation programs, starting with "Turbo FAST," a spinoff of the company's summer movie "Turbo."
Lawrence started the year with an Academy Award for best actress for her role as an emotionally scarred widow in "Silver Linings Playbook." Then she topped the box office as action heroine Katniss Everdeen with "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the rare sequel that received better reviews than the original and also had both critics and fans praising her performance. And she is closing out the year with more critical acclaim, earning Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations - - as well as more Oscar buzz -- for her performance in "American Hustle."
But it wasn't just sheer talent that put Lawrence on our list of pop culture newsmakers of the year. From each red carpet to interview chair, ,she showed a humor, intelligence and a candid sincerity that charmed the nation. She was genuine and down-to-earth when most other celebrities her age spent their year in rehab, jail, mental health facilities or publicly lashing out at families and fans.
She was chose as The Associated Press Entertainer of the Year and topped many best-dressed lists, making headlines as a muse for Dior and a daring pixie haircut, while calling on media outlets to be more accountable for its role in portraying positive body images to young women.