The Best of People

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1. Meet the real Slim Shady
In a year in which nothing was taboo, Eminem (a.k.a. Slim Shady; real name Marshall Mathers) ruled. His run-ins with the Fifth Commandment (his mother is suing him for defamation) and, nearly, the Sixth (he faces charges for assault with a deadly weapon) helped cement his status as one of rap music's most outrageous performers. Eminem's impact on pop music has been so profound — he has sold more than 11 million albums — and his detractors so vitriolic, that the potty mouth from Detroit has challenged our idea of what's acceptable.

2. Baby Rositha
As 700 people were swept to their deaths during Mozambique's horrific spring deluge, laboring mother Sophia Pedro clung to the branches of a mafourera tree, inches from the crocodile-infested floodwaters, for four days before delivering baby Rositha. Hours later a helicop-ter crew whisked mother and baby to safety and TV coverage made the pair instant celebrities. The moral: no matter what, just keep holding on.

3. Chloe Sevigny
The actress first slouched into murky, moody, somewhat disheveled prominence five years ago as an hiv-positive teen in Kids. Since then she has earned plaudits, not only for her roles in a roster of similarly dark films, including The Last Days of Disco, American Psycho and Boys Don't Cry (for which she earned an Oscar nomination), but also for her inimitable, mercurial fashion sense. Equal parts hoity-toity, hoi polloi and Holly Golightly, irreverent enough to pair Yves Saint Laurent couture with thrift-store cast-offs, Sevigny is redefining glamour and forcing us all to reconsider that floppy hat and slightly shabby frock we've been too timid to wear.

4. Harry Potter
The freckled, spectacled wonderboy's adventures have sold 66 million copies and been translated into 200 languages. The July release of the fourth installment sparked off a frenzy akin to the launch of a video-game console or the release of a Backstreet Boys CD — for a book! Fans can't get enough of the little wizard-in-training; readers of all ages identify with Harry's real-life problems, such as the death of his parents, his first date and his realization that good does not always prevail over evil. And next year, we can rediscover the magic of good ideas being marketed to death: Warner Bros. has a picture in the works starring 11-year-old British actor Daniel Radcliffe.

5. Marcello Rossi
Bend your knees, praise the Lord and come on people, it's time to sweat. The Roman Catholic priest has inspired millions of Brazilians to join him in his "aerobics of the Lord." After his sermons, worshipers try to follow the priest's choreographed jumps, jives and spins while together they sing the Lord's praises. Rossi's explanation: he wants churchgoing to appeal to the younger generation. Now, he appeals to everyone. On Nov. 2, All Souls Day, 2.4 million people attended a mass (workout) by Rossi and Bishop Dom Fernando Figueiredo at the Formula One Autodome in São Paulo. With a chart-busting CD of childlike hymns, weekly radio show appearances and bi-weekly masses, Rossi has attained iconic status among his soon-to-be-svelte followers.

6. Russell Crowe
The beefy Kiwi star proved his acting chops in The Insider, his box-office draw in The Gladiator and his ability to sell tabloids by romancing Hollywood sweetheart Meg Ryan. Oh, and in his spare time, he was the frontman in a rock band. His life is so totally perfect that he — oh wait, Meg and Dennis Quaid have just gotten back together. Still, he had a pretty fabulous year.

7. Justin Trudeau
Speaking at his father's funeral, the doe-eyed, 29-year-old son of revered former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau sent a shockwave of sighs and weak knees across Canada. With its clumsy literary allusions and corny Santa Claus story, the maudlin eulogy drew criticism from some — an editorial in the National Post called it a "treacly, over-acted embarrassment." But the middle-school drama teacher's performance turned him into the literary equivalent of a pop star overnight.

8. Katherine Harris
She was the woman America's Democrats loved to hate. In their eyes, Florida's Secretary of State did everything in her power to secure the presidential election for George W. Bush, first throwing the rule book at the Al Gore campaign — and then throwing it out the window. Oh, Harris also just happened to co-chair the Bush campaign in the state. Her strident TV appearances brought Harris her 15 minutes of fame. They also earned her the nickname Cruella De Vil.

9. Tony Leung Chiu-wai
Nice guys do finish first. One of Hong Kong cinema's most charming and gentlemanly stars, Leung won the Best Actor award at Cannes for his contemplative turn in Wong Kar-wai's In The Mood for Love. Although Leung openly concedes he doesn't always understand the characters Wong makes him play, he has become something of a muse for the famously mysterious director. And Tony doesn't need to intellectualize his roles because he looks so good: the editors of People magazine named him one of the 50 Most Beautiful People of the Year.

10. Asimo
R2D2 has nothing on this puppy. Honda Motor's latest robot walks on two legs, waves, flips on switches, dances, prepares your taxes, bakes fresh croissants and can give your elderly relatives a sponge bath. O.K., we made up those last few, but this product does represent a giant stride in robotics. New "i-Walk" technology allows Asimo to make smooth, disturbingly human-like movements. And Honda scientists say its successors will soon take on our more mundane chores, like pushing grocery carts around and turning up the heat if you're chilly. R2 never made sure your toes were toasty and warm.