WINNER -- George Lucas: The force is strong with this one. Turning the keys to LucasFilm over to Disney generated a sweet $4 billion payday for the Jedi master. Plus, there are three more “Star Wars” movies on the horizon. To think the year kicked off with “Red Tails.”
WINNER -- "Walking Dead": The gritty zombie drama has a legitimate shot at being not just cable's top show, but TV's top scripted show overall – something no cable show has ever done, let alone a tiny one like AMC. Are you awards-show zombies listening?
WINNER -- Nate Silver: Doubters called the FiveThirtyEight blogger a liberal tool for predicting an Obama win throughout the seemingly endless race for the White House. He pointed out that math doesn’t lie. Guess who had the last laugh?
WINNER -- Marissa Mayer: Did the impossible. In just a few months since taking over as Yahoo! CEO, Mayer has put the portal back into the conversation. Better yet, Wall Street loves her emphasis on improving the company’s mobile offerings, sending the stock surging 24.8 percent since she got the gig. For good measure, Twitter and Instagram just got schooled by Yahoo’s new update to its Flickr app.
WINNER -- Kevin Feige: Much credit for “The Avengers'” $1.5 billion box office went to director Joss Whedon. But the film was really the culmination of Feige’s vision. As president of production at Marvel Studios, he laid the groundwork for the superteam film with movies like “Iron Man” and “Thor.” He always said he was planning the ultimate comic-book movie, but few believed he could pull it off.
WINNER -- Female Protagonists: From “Brave” to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a slew of blockbuster movies demonstrated that women can kick butt like men. With “The Hunger Games” racking up nearly $700 million worldwide, every studio is now searching for a female-driven action franchise of its own. Girl power!
WINNER -- Kevin Costner: Too many flops extinguished a once white-hot career. After a decade in the wilderness, he’s back. He beautifully eulogized his “Bodyguard” co-star Whitney Huston in a way the encapsulated her dynamic talent, then he scored a ratings smash with his mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys,” earning an Emmy. His reward? A pair of key supporting roles in “Man of Steel” and the Jack Ryan reboot.
WINNER -- NBC: Admit it, you didn't see this coming. The longtime fourth-place finisher is first in the ratings this season, though CBS leads in total viewers. The competition will heat up in 2013 as CBS airs the Super Bowl and Fox brings back "X Factor." But until then, NBC is looking proud as a ... you know where this is going.
WINNER -- Channing Tatum: Oh yeah, he’s bankable. Thanks to “The Vow,” “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike,” the former exotic dancer headlined three $100 million-plus grossing movies. As a cherry on top, he was dubbed People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
WINNER -- Major Studio Oscar Movies: After years stuck watching indies get all the awards heat, major studios stepped up in 2012 and dominated with a field of likely Best Picture nominees, such as “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” “Silver Linings Playbook” may be the last, best chance for an indie studio to plant a flag on Oscar night.
LOSER -- Rich Ross: Shoved out of Walt Disney Studios after less than three rocky years as chairman, he landed a gig as CEO of Shine America -- on the same day his old employer unveiled a $4 billion LucasFilm purchase. Way to rain on a welcome party!
LOSER -- Simon Cowell: After "X Factor" fizzled, he fired two judges besides the one he canned before the show even aired. And since adding Demi Lovato and the expensive Britney Spears, ratings have only slipped. Oh, and the first judge he dropped, Cheryl Cole, is suing the show's producers. Rubbish.
LOSER -- The Daily: RIP. Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper was supposed to reinvent journalism in the internet age when it launched in 2011. Except it read like the New York Post with a touchscreen and wasn't able to either attract subscribers or advertisers. Less than two years later, The Daily is no more. Sigh. On to the next big thing.
LOSER -- Jeff Berg: Lost his fight for control at ICM. Now he'll try to launch his own competitive shop. But it’s a cutthroat landscape for agents with a lot of younger players nipping at his heels. Even the man nicknamed “Iceberg” for his coolness must be feeling the heat.
LOSER -- Clint Eastwood: The RNC empty-chair speech pushed the Oscar-winning director from film icon to national joke. Oh, and “The Trouble With the Curve” was that nobody saw it.
LOSER -- "Today": In May, the longtime No. 1 morning show lost its first week in 16 years to the quickly gaining "Good Morning America." Meanwhile, the firing of Ann Curry cast a cynical sheen over what was once America's friendliest morning show. "Today" vet Jeff Zucker, meanwhile, may have plans to step up CNN's mornings as the new head of the cable network.
LOSER -- Taylor Kitsch: Ouch. The "Friday Night Lights" heartthrob's “Battleship” and “John Carter” bombed in spectacular fashion. While “Savages” disappointed at the box office, it earned some decent reviews. By that time, though, the obituaries on Kitsch’s career as a leading man had already been written.
LOSER -- High-Frame Rates: If this is the future of film, most moviegoers want no part of it. The buzz on Peter Jackson’s disastrous 48 frames per second screening of “The Hobbit” at CinemaCon was horrific, with many complaining it looked like Gandalf had wandered on the set of a telenovela. The director said the new technology would make the 3D look more real. It did alright, too real.
LOSER -- Tech Stocks: From Facebook to Groupon, Silicon Valley titans saw their share price shrivel dramatically. Sure their gadgets and services were revolutionary, but investors are interested in money. And there wasn’t enough of it to justify some crazy valuations. As Mark Zuckerberg found out, building a multibillion-dollar company may be cool, but doing it on Wall Street can sure harsh a mellow.
LOSER -- David Mamet: It’s been an annus horribilis for one of America’s greatest living playwrights. “The Anarchist,” his new meditation on morality and politics, opened to scathing reviews. It closed on Broadway just two weeks later, despite the combined star wattage of Patti Lupone and Debra Winger. An Al Pacino-led revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross” remains a hot ticket, but critics hate that one too.
This year, actors like Kevin Costner, moguls like George Lucas and prognosticators like Nate Silver saw their stock climb on the strength of risky bets that paid off. Others were less fortunate. From Rich Ross, who was forced out of Disney, to Simon Cowell, who overhauled the “X-Factor” -- but not its ratings -- some former stars crashed to earth. Here are 10 people, companies and trends that will meet the new year riding high -- and 10 that will crawl into January in a much-diminished state.
Tim Molloy contributed to this report