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The 20 Biggest Movie Stars in 2011

Natalie Portman
Getty Images

Yes, it's 2011 already. It's been 2011 for a week already! Now that we've shaken off the sleepiness of the New Year -- and looked at the 50 biggest movies of the year and also 25 likely breakout performers -- we can gaze into the stars (the Hollywood kind) and tell you which big actors will be making an even bigger splash in '11.

We have a list of 20 we think will shine brightest going into 2011, judging on both the quantity and quality of their upcoming projects. Let's look into the future, and see what it holds for them ...

Natalie Portman

Universal

Starring In: "No Strings Attached" (Jan. 21), "The Other Woman" (Feb. 4), "Your Highness" (April 8), "Thor" (May 6)

Her Big Year: Portman kicks off the year receiving endless praise for her bold performance in "Black Swan" and seems a lock for a second Oscar nomination. Odds are she'll walk away with Best Actress, but even if she loses, she won't be forgotten with no less than five movies hitting theaters this year, and one at Sundance later this month ("Hesher"). Awards and movies won't be her only headlines, as Portman recently announced her engagement to Benjamin Millepied and that they're expecting their first baby. Movies, marriage and motherhood? 2011 is definitely Portman's superstar year.

Justin Timberlake

Sony

Starring In: "Bad Teacher" (June 17), "Friends with Benefits" (July 22), "Now" (Sept. 30)
His Big Year: Timberlake is on the cusp of reinvention as he goes into 2011.  He's no stranger to acting, but "The Social Network" finally earned him the critical respect he wanted and needed. Sure, we're still waiting for an album announcement, but moviemaking is clearly his new focus and passion. We wouldn't be surprised if he suddenly announced plans to direct.

Johnny Depp

Disney

Starring In: "Rango" (March 4), "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20), "The Rum Diary"
His Big Year: Depp is already a superstar beyond all human proportions, and 2011 promises to be another year where he dominates the box office, the blogs and the shelves at Hot Topic. As always, his upcoming slate is an eclectic one, and he might even nab award attention with his revisit to Hunter S. Thompson in "The Rum Diary." But his biggest headlines will probably occur as he dons fangs to shoot "Dark Shadows" for his longtime friend and collaborator, Tim Burton. Considering Depp and vampires are the hottest things going, the world may actually implode when he's first photographed in costume. At the very least, girls might start saying "Edward who?"

Olivia Wilde

Paramount

Starring In: "Cowboys and Aliens" (July 29), "The Change-Up" (Aug.t 5), "Now" (Sept. 30)

Her Big Year: As dust settles on Dec. 2010, one thing's obvious:  "Tron: Legacy" didn't download a lot of love. Wilde had a lot of buzz going into "Tron: Legacy" and was generally regarded as one of its highlights. She converted the attention into enviable roles, the biggest and brightest of which is "Cowboys and Aliens." As the lone cowgirl to a cast of cowboys, all eyes will be on her again.

Robert Pattinson

Fox

Starring In: "Water for Elephants" (April 22), "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" (Nov. 18), "Bel Ami"

His Big Year: A little of the heat seems to be off Pattinson these days. It's not that he's any less popular, but he and "Twilight" have become such household names that the shrieks, stalking and height of his hair don't make headlines anymore. "Remember Me" is practically ancient history. In 2011, he has his big chance to break free of Edward thanks to an enviable role in the highly anticipated adaptation of Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants."

Cameron Diaz

Sony

Starring In: "The Green Hornet" (Jan. 14), "Bad Teacher" (June 17)

Her Big Year: Last year, we only got to see Diaz in one movie, since the other, "Shrek Ever After" just featured her voice. This year, she's headlining two, both of which rely on her sparkly comedic timing. If you doubt she really has a sense of humor, just look at her costar in "Bad Teacher" – it's none other than her ex-boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.

Chris Evans

Chris Evans in "Captain America"
Columbia

Starring In: "What's Your Number?" (April 29), "Captain America: The First Avenger"  (July 22)

His Big Year: Of all the actors listed here, Evans has the biggest and scariest year ahead of him. He spent 2010 filming and doing Gucci ads, and now faces opening the biggest and most anticipated superhero flick yet: "Captain America: The First Avenger." To add to the pressure, it opens in the middle of San Diego Comic Con. If Evans is the Captain America we dream of, he will become an instant superstar and pop culture icon. We're patriotic, so we believe in him.

Penelope Cruz

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Disney

Starring In: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20)
Her Big Year: Cruz spent her 2010 with filming Johnny Depp, "Sex and the City 2" and superhunk Javier Bardem, the lucky girl. Cruz is largely known for drama, so seeing her swashbuckle and aim for adventure and laughs with Jack Sparrow should be fun. After that, she'll be facing her most challenging role yet -- that of real-life mommy.

Christoph Waltz

Columbia

Starring In: "The Green Hornet" (Jan. 14), "Water for Elephants," (April 22), "The Three Musketeers" (Oct. 14)

His Big Year: The world first met Waltz as a sadistic and strange Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds," a role which nabbed him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  He spent all of 2010 filming a variety of roles. Sure, they're all villains, but we know he'll be perfectly sinister each time. Still, wouldn't it be awesome if he signed on for a Disney movie someday, where he plays a hero who saves kittens and puppies?

Russell Brand

Warner Bros.

Starring In: "Hop" (April 1), "Arthur" (April 8 )

His Big Year: Freshly wed to Katy Perry, Brand doesn't have a lot of screen time this year. But his remake of "Arthur" is pretty controversial, as the original (with Dudley Moore) is beloved by many and Brand's comedy divides many. But he has Helen Mirren to help him out, and the crazily-coiffed funny man shows no signs of stopping his take over of America.

Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried in "Red Riding Hood"
Warner Bros.

Starring In: "Red Riding Hood" (March 11), "Now" (Sept. 30)

Her Big Year: Seyfried has enjoyed a quiet and steady climb over the past two years, thanks in part to HBO's "Big Love" (which wraps up this year) but she doesn't have a big 2011 slate. Follwing last year's movies about "Letters," she continues to woo the ladies with "Red Riding Hood," a supernatural romantic play on the old fairytale, as directed by "Twilight" helmer Catherine Hardwicke.

Daniel Craig

Paramount

Starring In: "Cowboys and Aliens" (July 29), "Dream House"( Sept. 30), "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Dec. 21), "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" (Dec. 28)

His Big Year: Craig is James Bond and the finest thing to happen to blue-swim trunks since ... well, ever.  But he hasn't had much luck being anything but Bond. That's set to change this year. His best chance of box-office breakout might be "Cowboys and Aliens," particularly since Westerns have a good track record for making male megastars (John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Kevin Costner come to mind). This is Craig's year to be even bigger than Bond.

Emma Stone

Disney

Starring In: "Friends With Benefits" (July 22), "Crazy Stupid Love" (July 29), "The Help" (Aug. 12).

Her Big Year: Freshly blonde for the "Spider-Man" reboot and currently loved by male and female moviegoers alike after "Easy A" and "Zombieland," Stone has nowhere to go but up. She has two big comedies coming out this year (one of which reteams her with "Easy A" director Will Gluck), and will be trying her hand at drama just to prove she's got more than one speed. The only risk she runs is burning out audiences on her charm (not likely).

Justin Bieber

Paramount

Starring In: "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" (Feb. 11)

His Big Year: The world figured out who Justin Bieber was in 2010, and he promptly took it over, culminating in an appearance on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." He may no longer be a daily Twitter trending topic, but he has yet to stop making headlines. He kicked off 2011 by making the cover of Vanity Fair, and by seeing his rumored girlfriend, Selena Gomez, receive death threats on his behalf. But he's still on Twitter, chatting with fans, solidifying their loyalty, trying to get on "Glee" and priming them for the culmination of Bieberdom: the 3-D release of his concert film, "Never Say Never." Let's say it again: 3-D Bieber.  The world will never be the same.

Seth Rogen

The Green Hornet
Sony

Starring In: "The Green Hornet" (Jan. 14), "Paul" (March 18), "Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom" (May 27)

His Big Year: Seth Rogen will be proving he's not just a goofball when "The Green Hornet" opens in next week. He'll be proving he's an action hero! That's a lot for one year, so it's no wonder we only will be hearing his voice for the rest of 2011 -- he sounds like an alien in "Paul" and a mantis in "Kung Fu Panda 2."

Vanessa Hudgens

CBS Films

Starring In: "Beastly" (March 18), "Sucker Punch" (March 25), "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" (Sept. 23)

Her Big Year: This year is Hudgens' biggest and best chance to break free of "High School Musical," and become a star in her own right. She has quite a platform to do it in Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" (March 25), a weird, sexy, and action packed movie that's definitely not by Disney. Explosions, katana, and "Mysterious" appearance beside Michael Caine should outstrip her past and earn her a starring role in 2012.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt
Getty Images

Starring In: "The Tree of Life" (May 27), "Moneyball" (Sept. 23)

His Big Year: With the exception of his voiceover work in "Megamind," Pitt has been absent from the big screen since "Inglourious Basterds" in 2009. 2011 is not only the year that will change that, but the one that may again see him be a serious Oscar contender thanks to Terrence Malick's long awaited drama, "The Tree of Life." He'll also star in the long awaited "Moneyball" which is primed for award season with its fall release date. With its theme of underdogs crunching numbers to baseball victory, it could be this year's "The Social Network."

Sofia Vergara

Getty Images

Starring In: "The Smurfs" (Aug. 3), "Happy Feet 2" (Nov. 18) and "New Year's Eve" (Dec. 9)

Her Big Year: Not a day goes by when we don't hear a guy gushing over the beauty of Vergara or people raving about "Modern Family." This year, she ventures into big screen territory. From her signature accent to her remarkable curves, she's one small screen star we're super-excited to welcome to our wheelhouse.

Taylor Lautner

Twilight
Summit

Starring In: "Abduction" (Sept. 23), "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" (Nov. 18)

His Big Year: As with Pattinson, Lautner is winding down on his "Twilight" duties. While last year saw him hailed as the newest action star, Lautner has taken it surprisingly slow, and many of his much-discussed projects ("Cancun," "Stretch Armstrong," "Incarceron") remain in production. He only has two films scheduled thus far -- and only one of them isn't "Breaking Dawn" -- but "Abduction" is Lautner's first time as a leading man, which is a big jump from Jacob Black.

Jason Segel

Sony

Starring In: "Bad Teacher" (June 17), "The Muppets" (Nov. 23)

His Big Year: Segel played second fiddle to Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up," but he's now a leading man in his own right. Audiences can't get enough of him (even if they have seen all of him, ahem, "Sarah Marshall"), and there doesn't seem to be anyone who isn't excited for "The Muppets." He's written and directed the popular puppets' big comeback and will also costar in the sea of googly eyes. If it's half as funny as we expect it to be, Segel may be worshiped by the world.

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