Oh those victorious smiles! Heads thrown back and index fingers pointed into the air, Aly, Gabby, Jordan, Kyla and the ever un-impressed McKayla won our hearts at the 2012 Olympic Games as they claimed America's first Olympic title in women's gymnastics since 1996. "To have this gold medal around your neck," Jordyn Wieber said, "it's really an indescribable feeling."
Keep clicking for more joy from 2012...
We don't know who was happier, Jennifer Aniston or every other woman in the world, when Justin Theroux popped the question. Brangelina is (are?) lovely, but we've been rooting for Jen for years. "I just got verklempt," Aniston told Chelsea Handler, using the Yiddish word for "choked with emotion," when dishing about the engagement. Oh, Jen! Mazel Tov!
Many new dads sing their kids' praises, but few have the chance to rap them. Two days after Beyonce gave birth to the couple's daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, proud papa Jay-Z memorialized "the most beautiful" girl in the world in his song, "Glory." The sound of a baby's cries—reportedly Blue's—ends the loving song, which includes the chorus, "The most amazing feeling I feel/Words can't describe what I'm feeling for real/ Maybe I paint the sky blue/My greatest creation was you. You. Glory."
She's not uber-skinny. She's not (or wasn't, anyway) uber-rich. And while the daughter of artists, she wasn't uber-connected either. But Lena Dunham emerged as one of the biggest stars of 2012, blindsiding Hollywood with Girls, her heart-achingly funny HBO show that dissects being young and stupid and stumbling toward adulthood in today's world. While Dunham's rising star fills us with glee, the actress/writer/director has been characteristically neurotic about her success: "I'm happy for five minutes," Dunham said when early reviews of the show came in, "then terrified."
The famously affectionate first couple celebrated President Barack Obama's re-election with a simple hug. But, man, what a hug. Tweeting to his followers before taking the stage at the election night celebration in Chicago, Obama sent out a month-old photo of him lovingly embracing Michelle with the words "Four More Years." The pic smashed Twitter and Facebook records. No matter who got your vote, it would be hard to see that image of pure love and happiness and not "like" it, too.
Justin Timberlake literally jumps for joy about his wedding, gushing (yes, a manly man can gush) that his Oct. 19 wedding to beauty Jessica Biel "was magical. It was an unforgettable evening." Bringing the sexy back to wedding receptions, Timberlake even serenaded his bride with "an original piece [written] specifically for the evening and for her." Sigh.
In an inspired moment of art transcending saber-rattling politics, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi takes the stage at Kodak Theatre after his film A Separation won Iran its first-ever foreign language Oscar. Delivering one of the best speeches of the night, Farhadi said, "At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy … because at the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics."
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Olive in a baby carriage! Star Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman not only tied the knot this year (June 2), the head-over-heels couple also welcomed new baby, Olive (Sep. 26). It has been a whirlwind year for the couple. Here's hoping they can spend 2013 relaxing with their newest "angel."
A 4-year-old battling a rare, cancerous brain tumor, learned to "never say never" when she got a surprise private meeting with Justin Bieber before the star's October concert in Milwaukee. Hailey Roser, who was diagnosed with cancer in August, didn't think she was going to get to see Bieber perform, let alone meet him. But her doctors gave her clearance to attend the concert, and Bieber made a point of meeting his brave little fan—prompting Haily to tweet: "Dreams come true #believe."
After battling breast cancer and facing down years of failed in-vitro fertilization attempts, E! host Giuliana Rancic and her husband, Bill, were overjoyed to welcome Edward Duke Rancic in August. The reality show stars say Baby Duke may have been a singular miracle, but he won't be a single child. The couple already has plans to expand their family with siblings for their little man.
Superstar Katy Perry was given the opportunity of a lifetime when she performed a duet of "Firework" with Jodi DiPiazza at Comedy Central's Night Of Too Many Stars. You'd think it would be the other way around, but DiPiazza, 11, who lives with autism, absolutely floored the pop star. After belting the duet, Jodi threw her arms around Perry in a moment of pure, appreciative love—and brought a tearful crowd to its feet. Perry later tweeted: "I will never forget last night. It was the most important moment thus far of what I do."
NEXT GALLERY: Top 10 Most Inspiring Stars of 2012