Stars to watch in 2011

Whether they are on the brink of hitting it big, at a career crossroads or in danger of a meltdown, these are the celebs we will have our eye on next year — and you should too.

Emma Stone

After a well-reviewed star turn in “Easy A” this year, the ingénue is no longer known merely as “the girl from ‘Superbad.’” Now she is poised to cross over from comedy to drama and become a household name, having nabbed the lead in the hotly anticipated adaptation of the blockbuster book “The Help.” This plucky-heroine role sounds like serious awards bait to us.

Lil Wayne

He spent much of 2010 in prison, but Weezy still managed to release an album in September and a single this month. Loyal fans have gone crazy for the performances he has done since his release, like his recent “Saturday Night Live” appearance with Eminem, and we are guessing he is going to be a dominant force in hip-hop in ’11.

Leighton Meester

Her “Gossip Girl” co-star Blake Lively made the leap from teen TV to mature film roles this year, and now it is Leighton’s turn. With “Country Strong,” she showed off her acting chops and her musical talent. In 2011, we will find out if she can pull off an odd-couple romance, playing opposite Hugh Laurie in “Oranges.”

Isaiah Mustafa

It is not often that the path from deodorant pitchman to movie star is direct. But Isaiah’s instantly iconic performance as the macho Old Spice guy (“I’m on a horse!”) caught the eye of casting directors. The actor and former NFL player has roles in the Jennifer Aniston flick “Horrible Bosses” and Tyler Perry’s next “Madea” movie — and we are guessing his performances will not stink.

Florence Welch

Performing as Florence and the Machine, this British singer held her own — some would say outshone — against much-bigger-name musical acts at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. Her band was recently named one of Spin magazine’s Artists of the Year. And they were nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy — which, considering that award’s rep for jinxing promising up-and-comers, we kinda hope they do not win.

Jaden and Willow Smith

Talk about good genes! With their multitalented parents, it is no surprise that both of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s kids started making waves in the industry at an age when most youngsters are busy texting one another “OMG LOL!!!!” Jaden’s summer blockbuster “Karate Kid” remake and Willow’s fiercely catchy “Whip My Hair” augur even bigger accomplishments for these sibs in 2011.

Taylor Momsen

We would like to say that Taylor is on this list because we are excited about her upcoming work. But instead, it is because we are worried about her. This year, she made comments about being “miserable” due to her past as an overworked child actor. She was dissed as unprofessional by “Gossip Girl” guest star Tim Gunn. And her role on the series was reportedly cut back. (Plus, her eye makeup is progressively scarier.) We would hate to see the former Cindy Lou Who burn all her bridges and end up in the same dire career straits as …

Lindsay Lohan

Now, we have certainly taken LiLo to task on many occasions. But we really are (eternally) rooting for her to make a comeback. (No, really!) However, it will be an uphill battle to rebuild her image once she leaves rehab in early January. Can she land a role or be insured? Do her fans still care? We would say she has a pretty good shot if she demonstrates her commitment to staying sober. But then again, we say that every year.

Kitty Raymond is an entertainment writer and astrologer. She welcomes feedback at kitty@media-darling.com.

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