From the breakout performance by "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe, to First Lady Michelle Obama becoming a style icon, pop culture gave us a lot to talk about in 2009. ESSENCE.com rounded up our favorite people and moments to celebrate in this busy year. Find out who is on this year's "Best of..." list
ESSENCE.com Best of 2009
Best Breakthrough Star: Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey (Gabby) stole the show with her outstanding performance as Claireece "Precious" Jones in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire". The Harlem native also stole our hearts with her bubbly girl-next-door demeanor. We can't wait to see what the future holds for this shining star.
Best Tweets: Mary J. Blige
This was the year of celebs on Twitter and no one did it sweeter than @maryjblige who's daily messages of love and empowerment to fans in 140 characters or less are a welcome reprieve from the mindless rants that dominate the Twitterverse. And when MJB calls you family, you get the feeling she really means it.
Best Post-Baby Body: Jennifer Hudson
Less than six months after giving birth to baby David Otunga Jr. J-Hud is looking better than ever, something she attributes to eating healthier and exercising. David Jr. travels with her wherever she goes. "Motherhood has made me more affectionate, emotional," she told People recently. She's also back at work on a new studio album and getting ready to film a biopic about South African icon Winnie Mandela.
Best Trend: Snuggie
On the coolness front, the Snuggie came in like a lamb and is leaving 2009 like a roaring lion. The fleece blanket with sleeves, once relegated to late-night informercials, has now sold over 20 million blankets. Even ESSENCE.com blogger, actress Joy Bryant (pictured with her snuggie) is hooked. "I surrendered to the fact that I am an ideal Snuggie customer: a mashed couch potato, that if given the chance would spend my days and night glued to the idiot box, with a few naps and snacks sprinkled in here and there. Aaaaaah, heaven," she blogged.
Best Quote: Kanye West
"Yo Taylor, I'mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!" Who knew that one line spoken off the cuff by a very tipsy Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards could turn into the year's most viral catchphrases. "I'mma let you finish" has spawned blogs, websites and is one the most popular jokes on the Internet. But was Kanye right? I'mma let you finish.
Best Celeb Candid Moments: Rihanna
No one does walking through the airport or getting in and out of a car quite like Riri. For eight months post-Chris Brown we had no idea where the Barbadian stunner was headed to or where she was coming from. Through those candid shots we witnessed her trend-setting hairstyles and her growing fondness for all things edgy. Now we know she was making all those trips to go to the studio to record her latest album "Rated R".
Best Dressed: Michelle Obama
Our first African-American First Lady's love of bold colors, brooches, belts and cardigans changed how we looked at style in the White House. She elevated the profile of unknown designers like Jason Wu and Naeem Khan and her love of low-end (Target) meets high end designer (Thakoon) mirrored how regular women mix and match style. Her effortless style is inspiring and has everyone hooked.
Best Reality Show: Real Housewives of Atlanta
When it comes to drama, these Georgia peaches have got it down packed. We were thoroughly intrigued by how the ladies from ATL handled everyday situations with style and flair. While NeNe Leakes became the breakout star, Sheree sealed her diva status by uttering the now infamous "Who gon' check me boo?" All the drama ensured that every week we sat glued to our boob tubes in anticipation.
Best Comeback: Whitney Houston
Proving you can't keep a good Black woman down, Whitney Houston picked herself up from the throes of drug abuse and came back with a vengeance. This year she gave us grown woman honesty, speaking candidly about what she went through and what it took to get over. And she's not asking for a pity party. Whitney spoke about it on Oprah and that was the last time she would touch the subject publicly, she said. Respect is due.
Best Broadway Act: Fela
This much foot-stomping, head-nodding musicality is long overdue on The Great White Way. Fela, the Afro-beat musical about the life of Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, is the season's breakout star boasting some of the most electrifying music and jubilant dancing around.
Best Trailblazer: Tyler Perry
How many African-American directors can boast having full ownership of all their movies and owning a film studio? Tyler Perry's movies have grossed over $360 million worldwide and earned him respect in Hollywood. His penchant for giving new African-American actors a break while reviving the careers of the old is laudable and inspiring, and makes him the trailblazer of the year.