The new year begins with A & E’s new column

Number 8 – Justin Timberlake (and anything he does)

Jess: The epitome of a squeaky-clean boy band-er gone bad . in all the right ways.

Carrie: Whatever the boy touches turns to gold. I hate Madonna and just about everything about her. But “4 Minutes” is one of my favorite songs of ’08 cause of JT.

Jess: It didn’t hurt seeing him in a speedo in “The Love Guru” either. Sexy and able to make fun of himself. What’s not to love?

Number 7 – “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” by J.K. Rowling

Carrie: Not to be five years old, but the release of anything remotely Harry Potter is cause for celebration in my world.

Jess: It provided fans with a much-needed fix for their post-“Deathly Hallows” depression. We laughed. We cried. We wondered what the hell we read before Rowling entered the writing scene.

Number 6 – “Psych” (on USA Fridays at 10 p.m.)

Carrie: I like a lot of TV shows. Like a lot. But this show on USA ranks right up there with some of the best on TV. A show about a hyper-observant guy who tricks the Santa Barbara Police Department into thinking he’s psychic? Yes please. James Roday, who plays the fake psychic Shawn Spencer, is a comic genius. As is Dulé Hill, who plays his best friend. They’re the next Abbott and Costello. I swear. Everyone should watch this show.

Jess: Think of it as a mix between “CSI” and “The Office.” The comedic timing is perfect, and there’s something oddly endearing about Roday. It could be his dry wit, or the fact that he makes perfect sense one second and seems fit for a straight jacket the next. Either way, it’s a hit.

Number 5 – “Eat This, Not That!” by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding

Carrie: This book is a great idea for people who hate dieting as much as I do.

Jess: Finally, a book that tells you in plain English what you should and should not eat from restaurant chains. Not exactly the most feel-good read (especially if you’re a repeat offender of ordering the “not that’s” listed in the book, as I am), but its well worth the $20 to know what you’re really eating. Highly recommended for those looking to stick to that ever-lurking New Years’ Resolution.

Number 4 – “Twilight” (books and movies)

Carrie: I resisted for more than a year. But I couldn’t help it. I’m a sellout. I read the books, went to the midnight release party for “Breaking Dawn” and saw this movie the day it came out.

Jess: A part of me is ashamed to admit I bought into the “Twilight” phenomenon. A bigger part of me says, “Who cares,” because it’s awesome. The books made me wish I had some Xanax on hand, yet the movie was hilarious in its own twisted way. I don’t care what the haters say.

Number 3 – Panic at the Disco’s “Pretty. Odd.”

Carrie: There are a few bands in the world that you either love or hate. And one of them happens to be Panic at the Disco. I don’t care what anyone says, I think they’re one of the best bands on the scene right now. When “Pretty. Odd.” came out in March, everyone expected it to sound exactly like “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.” But instead, it was a healthy mix of Beatles influence and Panic’s own pot-induced lyrics and arrangements. It’s a musical smorgasbord from start to finish, with each song never sounding like the previous. At least they tried something different.

Jess: Finally, a band that reinvented itself into something original, and not a carbon copy of 30 other bands already on the radio. The first time I heard this I didn’t know what to think. A part of me thought the album would make more sense if I was tripping on acid. Once you give it a chance though, you might be pleasantly surprised. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny Panic’s sound is their own.

Number 2 – “Saturday Night Live”

Jess: SNL’s been lagging for quite some time. Leave it to Tina Fey and the cast to turn one of the most important elections of our time into a comedic sketch. It might not have always been politically correct, but in a time when the politicians themselves aren’t always correct (Seriously, who tries to auction off a senate seat?), it’s just far too easy to take advantage of their missteps and turn them into comedy, and the SNL cast did so to perfection.

Carrie: Not to mention the fact that Tina Fey did a better impersonation of Sarah Palin than Palin herself.

Number 1 – “The Dark Knight”

Carrie: I will never look at a pencil the same way again. If Heath Ledger doesn’t get his posthumous Oscar, I will seriously cry. This was the best movie of ’08 and I think one of the best things that happened all year, besides “Yes, We Can” of course. What do you think?

Jess: I was skeptical at first. I didn’t think it could possibly live up to all the hype. Much to my surprise, I was mistaken. Amazing effects, brilliant acting and just an all-around amazing movie. It’ll leave anyone who sees it with a renewed faith in the movie industry while simultaneously causing everyone to go around asking the quintessential question of ’08: “Why so serious?”

Join Carrie and Jess next week when they talk about their Arts & Entertainment guilty pleasures. Caroline Russomanno can be reached at