10. The Indie Film Star
Maxim picked: Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence
Our pick: If you haven’t watched Tiny Furniture yet, we’re not even going to have this conversation. Lawrence may be a great actress, but that film’s writer/director/star Lena Dunham is one of the smartest, funniest, most unique voices out there. She’s currently shooting the debut season of her HBO series Girls, so while she’s not up for any Academy Awards yet, Dunham is definitely going places.
9. The Funny Girl
Maxim picked: How I Met Your Mother‘s Cobie Smulders
Our pick: When we watch The Office these days, it’s because of Mindy Kaling — a comedian who seems so sweet you almost forget how smart she is. We especially love her web series, “Subtle Sexuality,” which stars her character (Kelly Kapoor) and Ellie Kemper’s Erin Hannon as a musical girl group. It goes without saying that we can’t wait for her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) , which comes out this fall.
8. The Serious Actress
Maxim picked: Natalie Portman
Our pick: The past year has belonged to Natalie Portman — she’s in just about every movie that comes out, and one of them earned her a Best Actress Oscar. This is all well and good, but you know who wouldn’t have starred in No Strings Attached? Michelle Williams. In the past year, she’s starred in Blue Valentine and Meek’s Cutoff, both of which, in our humble opinion, were better than Black Swan. In our opinion, Williams is one of the most talented young actresses in Hollywood, and her quiet, intelligent beauty is a rarity.
7. America’s Sweetheart
Maxim picked: Anne Hathaway
Our pick: Don’t get us wrong; we like Anne Hathaway, even if she was one half of team that totally effed up this year’s Academy Awards telecast. But when we think of an actress who seems like an all-around sweetheart, it’s Rashida Jones who comes to mind first. Dear Parks and Recreation writers: Please find a way to make poor, romantically unlucky Ann Perkins happy.
6. The International Woman of Mystery
Maxim picked: Model/ sometime Leonardo Di Caprio girlfriend Bar Refaeli
Our pick: No one’s denying that Israeli pin-up Bar Refaeli is easy on the eyes. But what has she done for us culturally? (No, the brief return of House of Style doesn’t count.) We’re far fonder of Sweden’s own Robyn, a staggeringly prolific and stunningly consistent musician whose internationally popular anthems never fail to get us out on the dance floor.
5. Every Stoner’s Dream Girl
Maxim picked: Mila Kunis
Our pick: If you’re trying to win a stoner’s heart, it’s pretty hard to beat the woman who starred in the perennially smoke-filled That ’70s Show before getting nasty on ecstasy with Natalie Portman. But a big-eyed lady who’s always talking about how she loves a good toke (check out the marijuana leaf-print hat in the background of the photo above), writes songs about her cat, and covers Blink-182 might just win the day. Our vote goes to Bethany Cosentino, a.k.a. Best Coast.
4. The Bombshell Next Door
Maxim picked: Cameron Diaz
Our pick: Diaz is one of the few actresses in Hollywood to combine All-American beauty with a down-to-earth genuineness. But in the interest of spotlighting newer stars — who are currently killing it in movies we love — we’re giving this one to Greta Gerwig. We’ve been following her since her mumblecore days, in the films of Joe Swanberg and the Duplass brothers. As her star has risen, she’s perfected a sort of goofy self-awareness in movies such as last year’s Greenberg.
3. The Pop Star
Maxim picked: Katy Perry
Our pick: First, a question. Why is Katy Perry #3 on a Hot 100 list that doesn’t even include her doppelganger, Zooey Deschanel? Now that we’ve got that out of the way: No one’s denying how beautiful Perry is. But you know who’s gorgeous and made one of our favorite albums of 2010? Janelle Monáe. We love her sci-fi sensibility, her genre-hopping style, and her androgynous fashion sense.
2. The Daily Show Correspondent
Maxim picked: Olivia Munn
Our pick: We’re not going to even get into the ongoing kerfuffle about The Daily Show, a show that’s launched everyone from Steve Carell to Stephen Colbert and is famously short on female comedians, hiring Munn. What we will say is this: We cannot think of a single current Daily Show correspondent who is as consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious (not to mention pointedly political) as Kristen Schaal.
1. The British Import
Maxim picked: Victoria’s Secret model and Transformers: Dark of the Moon star Rosie Huntington-Whitely
Our pick: There’s no denying the loveliness of Huntington-Whitely. But allow us to draw your attention to an English rose whose acting we’ve actually seen and enjoyed: Michelle Dockery. Although she has a fairly extensive resume at home, most Americans got their first glimpse of her this year, as the delightfully bitchy firstborn in the BBC/PBS collaboration Downton Abbey. You may have also caught her at the multiplex, in the small but memorable role of “False Marissa” in Hanna.