To be a top movie entertainer this year, it helped to be not quite living. (Like certain vampires, or pop singers.)

It also helped to be multidimensional. That was true not only of the 3-D toons that captured our imaginations, but also of the multidimensional human performers who demonstrated different sides and layers to themselves in multiple films.

We count down the 10 who entertained us the most in 2009, whether they were individuals, ensembles, or animated creatures. To be a top movie entertainer this year, it helped to be not quite living. (Like certain vampires, or pop singers.)

It also helped to be multidimensional. That was true not only of the 3-D toons that captured our imaginations, but also of the multidimensional human performers who demonstrated different sides and layers to themselves in multiple films.

We count down the 10 who entertained us the most in 2009, whether they were individuals, ensembles, or animated creatures.


10. Sandra Bullock
America's once and future sweetheart did what she does best in the romantic comedy 'The Proposal,' where she also boldly showed a whole new side of herself (inadvertently and hilariously) to reluctant fiancé Ryan Reynolds. And she proved her dramatic chops in the uplifting family drama 'The Blind Side' (pictured, left), even earning a little Oscar buzz in the process. She had such a good year, we'll agree to forgive her for 'All About Steve.'

9. Woody Harrelson
Fifteen years ago, he was a rising star as a leading man; then he was a joke. Now he's back, as a character actor to be reckoned with, whether gleefully fighting the undead in 'Zombieland,' facing Emmerich-size disaster in '2012' or somberly breaking bad news to war widows in 'The Messenger.' Welcome back, Woody.



8. The cast of 'Precious'
Who'd have one day believed there'd be Oscar talk for Mariah Carey or Mo'Nique? Yet there they were, part of a pitch perfect ensemble in the year's most talked-about drama, a harrowing tale of an abused teenage girl's struggle for redemption. If there was a bigger surprise than Carey's and Mo'Nique's raw, vanity-free performances, it was the appearance out of nowhere of instant star Gabourey Sidibe in the title role.

7. Matt Damon
He could just rest on his laurels, making 'Bourne' movies and online comedy videos with Sarah Silverman to the end of his days. Instead, in 2009, he stretched, taking on a tricky, comedic role (and about 30 extra pounds) as the weaselly corporate whistleblower in 'The Informant!', and sculpting himself into a South African rugby player in 'Invictus.' How do you like them apples?



6. Megan Fox
Is Megan Fox, running in Daisy Dukes while being pursued by giant robots, enough to hang a nine-figure summer blockbuster on? Why yes, yes it is. Whether she was serving as eye candy in 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' playing the bloodthirsty high-schooler-from-hell in 'Jennifer's Body,' or simply opening up in brutally candid fashion to magazine writers and talk show hosts, we couldn't stop looking at her lips, if only to see what crazy thing would emerge from them next.

5. Michael Jackson
The self-styled King of Pop died a long time ago, long before his body gave out in June. What was left had long been a ghost, haunted by ruined potential, wasted talent, and destroyed lives. The miracle of his death and on-screen resurrection in 'This Is It' was that it made us forget all that ghoulishness and remember him instead as the great showman of our age. Instead of fearing that his last-hurrah tour would be a disaster, we could look at the rehearsal footage and marvel, "I'll be damned, he might have pulled it off after all." For a few moments in a darkened movie theater, he did what he'd done so often as a child and as a young man (and so seldom since): he brought us unadulterated joy.

4. Pixar
Their storytelling skills just get better and better, don't they? 'Up' (pictured, left) had adults sobbing alongside their children. It was so good that it earned talk that it may become the first animated feature since 'Beauty and the Beast' 18 years ago to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Then again, Pixar has always had the ability to move adults and kids at the same time, as they demonstrated with the re-release of early hits 'Toy Story' and 'Toy Story 2.' If anyone is poised to make the best use of the new toy box offered by 3-D projection, it's these folks.

3. Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner
Whether we were on Team Edward or Team Jacob, a lot of us couldn't stop talking all year about 'Twilight,' and how last year's initial installment had whetted our appetite for the vampire/werewolf/teen-girl triangle to come. The stakes were high, but the anticipation paid off in 'New Moon.' In a year where pop culture everywhere seemed to be crawling with vampires, these neckbiters were the ones we couldn't stop obsessing over.

2. Meryl Streep
When she was younger, Streep impressed us by making it look so difficult (those accents! those wrenching emotions!). Now, at 60, she impresses us by making it look so easy. She seems to be having the time of her life, whether stepping effortlessly into Julia Child's apron in 'Julie & Julia' playing a wily (animated) vixen in 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' or proving in 'It's Complicated' that she can still attract two devoted men. And all the rest of us who are watching, to boot.

1. George Clooney
No one gave a more diverse set of crowd-pleasing performances this year - or seemed to have more fun doing it. From his uproarious, scene-stealing soldier/mystic in 'The Men Who Stare at Goats,' to his furry master thief in 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' to his bachelor businessman surprised to discover his own vulnerability and need for human connection in 'Up in the Air,' Clooney kept revealing new sides of himself we'd never seen before. He even found time to take a victory lap on his old TV stomping grounds at 'ER' before that series wrapped this spring. But the callow, casual charisma Clooney had displayed 15 years ago as Doug Ross had given way to something deeper, weathered by time and experience. Whether or not he wins an Oscar (as he's widely expected to) for 'Up in the Air,' he's already proven this year that he's a multifaceted actor whose layers we are only just beginning to discover. We can't wait to see where his personal journey takes us next.