[Edit: Yes, these are films I saw in 2008. Not films from 2008, necessarily.]
10. and 9. (They're interchangeable, really.) Northanger Abbey (2007, Felicity Jones) and Emma (1996, Kate Beckinsale). I don't recall the books' details well enough to know how much they condensed and changed when turning them into films. I'm sure Austen purists hate these concise little pieces. But if you just want some amusing Regency fluff with that veneer of classic lit, then they're quite enjoyable.
8. Atonement. This is one of those movies, like Magnolia, that I admired and found captivating, but wouldn't want to watch more than once--at least, not all the way through. Too depressing by the end. Still, the method of storytelling appealed to my writer's heart, the cinematography was gorgeous, and James McAvoy, just in case you wondered, totally jumped onto my crush list this year. (Also adored him in Becoming Jane.)
7. Imagine Me & You. A mainstream lesbian love story, as sweet and natural as any hetero chick flick. As such, also pretty predictable, but lovely to watch. Those gals made me want to do my hair nicer. And really this movie made the list because Anthony Stewart Head is in it.
6. The Jane Austen Book Club. I'm ashamed that something so Oprah's-book-pick is on my list. But for whatever reason, I found it lots of fun. I assume this has a lot to do with Hugh Dancy's performance, a totally different turn from his usual Masterpiece Theatre costume roles: he played a geeky American software developer who rides his bike everywhere (decked out in all types of safety gear) and prefers science fiction but is willing to give this Jane Austen a try. Too cute.
5. Paris, Je T'Aime. A collection of five-minute films, all from different directors and in all kinds of styles and languages, with nothing in common except being set in Paris. (Plus a few clever overlaps between stories here and there.) Like a box of chocolate bonbons with surprise fillings. Relatively star-studded, too. Elijah Wood fans, take note: this is your chance to see vampire-Lij!
4. Waitress. Mmm, pie. Seriously, the pies make this movie. But everyone turns in a great performance, too, from Nathan Fillion as a creepy/cute/awkward OB-GYN to Keri Russell as the main pie-making pregnant waitress, to the tragically now deceased Adrienne Shelly (who also directed it) as a nerdy coworker, to Andy Griffith as a crochety old guy.
3. Notes on a Scandal. Cate Blanchett always rocks, even when her character is doing morally not-so-wonderful things. For instance, when she plays a high school teacher romancing one of her 15-year-old students. As you might imagine, scandal ensues. Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, who also always rock, round out the film with their portrayals of the rather viperish fellow teacher and the cuckolded husband.
2. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. You know I love perfume, and even if this film has its heroes and villains turned upside-down, they get their perfurmery right. The passion for scent, and where it leads one disturbed young man with the world's best nose, is painted beautifully. I wish a film could be scratch-and-sniff. Well, except for those nasty 1700s-fishmonger-district scenes...
1. My Neighbor Totoro. On those days when you can't stand Disney because it seems too damn saccharine and dumbed-down, thank God we've got Hayao Miyazaki. I've loved his films in the past; Spirited Away was probably my favorite. This one is similar to Spirited Away, and to Alice in Wonderland for that matter, but less wild; gentler and more pastoral. And somehow this studio shows little kids exactly right--not over-cute, not over-obnoxious, just the way they are in real life in every country. Loved it.