I found I constantly needed a way for clients to mark a post as something they wanted to feature and I’ve never found sticky posts particularly intuitive. In fact, the sticky post UI is about the least obvious thing possible for a WordPress newbie. The simplest solution was a checkbox in prominently located metabox.
So I packaged up a quick metabox, with some good quick edit support. The plugin, by itself, will not change how the posts are displayed. It just gives the UI to users and a meta key to theme developers to query for, though I am not 100% convinced that meta is the best way to go here. I have at times used a taxonomy for grouping featured posts, though this plugin is currently configured for post meta.
You can decide which post types should support this metabox directly from the plugin options. But of course, the best part of this plugin is that shortly after submitting it to the WordPress repo, I realized someone else had already built something practically identical! #Doh! Sometimes that happens, but it was a good exercise nonetheless. If you need a way to mark posts as featured, then grab it from the repo: