NEW YORK, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- GARDEN STATE WARRIOR: James Gandolfini, by Chris Heath, page 303 -- This year, James Gandolfini's character, Tony Soprano, went deeper than we ever thought he would. And yet the actor who plays this man we know so well has remained a mystery -- at least until now. Writer-at-large Chris Heath settles in with the GQ Man of the Year for a candid conversation about life, death, and a guy called "T." SCREEN SAVER: Jude Law, by Chris Norris, page 307 -- Jude Law had it easy. All he had to do was keep looking good and stay the course. Instead, Law chose to display mad range and courage in three first-rate roles this year. Writer Chris Norris talks to the wildly deserving GQ Man of the Year about how, exactly, he does what he does. BORN AGAIN: Tom Cruise, by Lucy Kaylin, page 312 -- In 2004, Tom Cruise, the biggest star we've ever had, showed that he can still surprise us. In doing so, he proved to be even greater than we thought. Features editor Lucy Kaylin talks to Cruise about his commitment to Scientology and what it really feels like to be Tom Cruise. TEAMSTERS: Detroit Pistons, page 318 -- In an ode to his home team and this year's NBA champs, Kid Rock explains the Motor City's madness: "Too often these days, whoever has the most money has the best team. But the Pistons shattered that notion. The 2004 finals proved that you can have the two best players in the world, but if there's not a sense of family and friendship there, then it's just not the same." LIFE OF THE PARTY: Barack Obama, page 320 -- Unruffled in the biggest speech of his life, Barack Obama took the podium at this year's Democratic National Convention and unified the party. By the time he'd finished, his fate was sealed as the man who would deliver a miracle. BOSSMAN: Donald Trump, page 321 -- This year, Trump's name has been on everything, in slabs of reflective gold that always seem slightly too big. How did he get millions of people to watch MBAs market toothpaste? We think maybe it's because he manages to be both obscene and likable at the same time. INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY: Gael Garcia Bernal, page 322 -- At 26, Gael Garcia Bernal is becoming Mexico's version of an early-70's Al Pacino -- the actor whose mere presence in a movie certifies that this is where the action is. COMEBACK KID: Quentin Tarantino, page 324 -- In 2004, after seven years spent hiding out in Hollywood, the Kill Bill director embarked on twelve months of parties, film fests, and shilling Bill. CULTURE MULCHERS: Kanye West and Danger Mouse, page 327 -- Danger Mouse is the laid-back genius who melded Jay-Z's The Black Album with the Beatles' The White Album to create The Grey Album, a bootleg masterpiece. Kanye West is the Roc-a-Fella producer who went platinum as an MC on The College Dropout. The two wax wise on the state of music in 2004. FUNKMASTER: Prince, page 327 -- Prince's 2004 performance in Madison Square Garden was so good you had to hold onto something -- your seat, maybe, or the person next to you -- to keep yourself together. MEDAL HEAD: Michael Phelps, page 329 -- Think of Michael Phelps as the Dark Angel of Athens: He swooped down, dove in, and took what he wanted -- specifically, six gold medals in swimming. SUNDAY'S BEST: Tom Brady, page 329 -- Sometimes greatness is fitting squarely into a well-conceived system or scratching for two yards on second down to set up third and four instead of third and six-humble things that Brady, who has earned his place beside the NFL's best quarterbacks, does better than anyone else. BADASS: Ian McShane, page 331 -- It's not enough to say he's the best TV villain since J.R. Ewing; McShane's character, Al Swearengen, is the heart(lessness) and soul(lessness) of HBO's Deadwood. OFFICEMATE: Ricky Gervais, page 331 -- Gervais's tiny little British mockumentary The Office -- a spot-on look at middle-management buffoonery -- is the funniest, most dead-on TV series in a long time. PRIDE OF THE COUNTY: Men of The OC, page 332 -- It's the women who make The OC a soap opera. But while the female characters are driving the plot all over kingdom come, it's the men of the show that make it so much fun to watch. "To Those We'd Like to Smack," pages 334 - 335 -- GQ lists the most scurrilous, scandalous, arrogant, overexposed, smackable men of the year, from Michael Bergin, Dan Rather, and Bill O'Reilly to Smarty Jones, Rick Salomon, Craig Kilborn, and Michael Powell. 2004 WOMEN OF THE YEAR Kate Winslet, by Andrew Corsello, page 336 -- Perhaps it has something to do with her face -- that radiance and stillness that one usually sees only in paintings -- with the sense she imparts of coming from another time. Whatever the case, the effect of Kate Winslet is unnerving, reports GQ writer-at-large Andrew Corsello. Uma Thurman, by Devin Friedman, page 339 -- In Kill Bill 2 we learn about a supersecret karate move known as the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. There is only one single person alive who can do it. GQ senior writer Devin Friedman notes that it is appropriate that the last woman who can explode a man's heart in his chest would be Uma Thurman. Maria Sharapova, by Jason Gay, page 339 -- The first time we heard about Maria Sharapova, 17 and straight outta Siberia, we thought: Nyet again, writes senior editor Jason Gay. We'd been suckered by this package before: Russian, blond, beautiful. But then we saw her play. Loretta Lynn, by Andy Ward, page 340 -- Lynn's voice, forty-five years after her first recording, is still borderline absurd in its purity and beauty. Her '04 collaboration with Jack White had the potential to be misbegotten and gimmicky, writes GQ executive editor Andy Ward. Instead it turned out to be the rarest thing in music these days: a surprise. Gwen Stefani, by Brian Raftery, page 343 -- Gwen Stefani's solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby, reaffirms everything we love about the Orange County punkette: a voice that melts between teasing charm and crackling sarcasm, and a seriously awesome record collection, writes associate editor Brian Raftery. PORTFOLIO: A YEAR OF MEMORABLE MEN EXCLUSIVE POLL: "Who Is the Twenty-First Century Man?" pages 223 - 242 -- In this exclusive GQ poll on the state of man in 2004, you will discover that he is an activist and a renegade, warrior and an icon. ACTIVIST: Russell Simmons, "The Believer," by Lisa DePaulo, page 244 -- Russell Simmons has spent the past twenty-five years building a hip-hop empire worth billions; now he plans to spend the rest of his life giving much of it away in the name of democracy, reports GQ writer-at-large Lisa DePaulo. HUSTLER: Bob Berney, "How to Sell a Movie," by Robert Moritz, page 254 -- Bob Berney takes films that no one will touch and reaps millions off them. The independent distributor (The Passion of the Christ, Monster) sits down with west coast editor Robert Moritz to explain the secrets of beating those major-studio schnooks at their own game. RENEGADE: Sean Thackrey, "Wino," by Charles Bowden, page 258 -- Sean Thackrey is a virtuosic one-man winery in Bolinas, California. GQ writer-at- large Charles Bowden visits Thackrey and discovers that apart from grapes, great wine has just one ingredient-the winemaker-and that's exactly why Thackrey's wine is so good. FUTURIST: Craig Venter, "The Next Big Thing," by Wil S. Hylton, page 267 -- Craig Venter unraveled life's genetic code, making him a superstar in the world of science. GQ writer-at-large Wyl S. Hylton reconnects with Venter, who is preparing his next big move: creating new microorganisms that will cure diseases and make free energy. ICON: Dustin Hoffman, "Marathon Man," by Michael Hainey, page 273 -- Over five decades, Hoffman has created characters that show us what it means to be a man. This year, at 67, he roared back with roles in I Heart Huckabees and Meet the Fockers that showed us he never stopped being great, reports deputy editor Michael Hainey. THE WAR: "Dispatches from a Disaster," by Jeffrey Gettleman, page 284 -- New York Times correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman saw street battles with Marines and was kidnapped by militants. Gettleman looks back on the year in Iraq and the unraveling of the occupation. "What I Did in Iraq" pages 288 -298 -- GQ presents a collection of personal stories about the war in Iraq as told by the soldiers, policymakers, businessmen, volunteers, and journalists who fought it, were held hostage by it, got rich off it, or otherwise lived to tell their harrowing tales. DEPARTMENTS FOOD: "Stick a Fork in Jean-Georges," by Alan Richman, page 212 -- He was once the most innovative chef in America, and his early restaurants, such as Vong, revolutionized dining. But after he hatched Spice Market and a string of mediocre joints, GQ writer-at-large Alan Richman wonders: is Jean-Georges Vongerichten cooked? THE BODY, pages 169-180 -- GQ looks at the longest marathon, the deepest water, and the fastest car crash that a body can handle in this month's look at amazing bodies of 2004. From the first man to climb the Biographie Extension in France to Justin Gatlin, the world's fastest man, these ten men make the extraordinary look easy and tell us how they survive. THE VERGE, pages 183-218 -- The 2004 most overrated, underrated, and so overrated they've become underrated. Are you a Kobe guy or a Shaq guy; Hallelujah! Judas Priest screams again; rock music you can dance to; affliction of the moment: the BlackBerry; Tom Selleck vs. a housecat; the other brain behind Saturday Night Live; GQ picks the ten best albums of 2004, from Kanye West to Loretta Lynn. Plus the compilations, reissues, and unknown pleasures that you should buy, borrow, or somehow get your hands on. THE CRITIC: "Recovering Catholic Fights Back," by Tom Carson, page 207 -- National Magazine Award winner and GQ writer-at-large Tom Carson examines Pedro Almodovar's audacious new film, Bad Education, where Spain's greatest director takes on choirboys, drag queens, and the dark secrets of the Church. APPRECIATION: "The Master," as remembered by GQ creative director Jim Moore page 218 -- Photographer Richard Avedon (1923 - 2004) shot some sixty GQ covers, from Michael Caine (his first) to Michael Jordan (his last), and helped establish the very identity of what it means to look "very GQ." Following Avedon's passing, creative director Jim Moore remembers the legendary photographer. OPEN LETTER, page 372 -- In this month's open letter, GQ offers some self-help advice to Dr. Phil: stop patronizing us, stop being so trite and so creepy, and consider a vow of silence. FASHION DESIGNER OF THE YEAR: Helmut Lang, by Lucy Kaylin, page 344 -- How is it that the man who nailed a formula for perfect clothes from jeans to suits never fails to surprise? Blame it on the quiet genius that is Helmut Lang. MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Usher, pages 348-355 -- No man lit up the night this year like Usher. In an eight-page photo spread, the tireless showman pulls on the season's best and boldest threads and does the evening right. "The (Real) Reason Men Ski," featuring Jeremy Bloom, pages 356-365 -- Yeah, the powder, the jumps, and the back bowls are all good, but as pro skier Jeremy Bloom shows us, sometimes it's all that mountain-friendly gear -- or lack thereof -- that really draws us to the slopes. STYLEBOOK, pages 87 - 116 -- Man of the Moment: actor Don Cheadle; how to pull off leather pants; six soothing solutions for razor burn; how to pack for the perfect ski trip this fall; trend spotting: snorkel parkas; GQ Style Guy Glenn O'Brien solves your sartorial conundrums; more. ROCK THE TUX: GQ's Guide to Modern Black Tie, pages 119 - 130 -- Formalwear, like real estate, employs a single golden rule: It is better to buy than rent. GQ outlines four steps to perfecting the modern-day tuxedo. Plus ten do's and don'ts of formalwear and four new ways to wear a tux. GQ's Best Stuff of the Year, pages 139 - 158 -- The gadgets, gear, tools, and accessories that will change your life from tech and tools to sports and cookware.