If you’re not out celebrating the end of another year at a lavish party, chances are you’re sitting at home waiting for that ball to drop, and maybe watching a movie of someone enjoying their night a bit more than you. New Year’s is an often overlooked holiday in cinema, caught between Christmas and the ever-impending Valentine’s Day. But that doesn’t mean that a countdown or two doesn’t creep into a favorite film every now and then.
Here’s a breakdown of just a few that I’ve noticed:
When Harry Met Sally (1989): Possibly my favorite New Year’s scene of all time. Harry realizes he’s in love with Sally and races across the city to find her. He spills his heart out in one of my favorite little love speeches ever—“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Then they share a slightly-after-midnight kiss after debating the true meaning of the classic tune, Auld Lang Syne. (Hint: It’s about old friends.)
Forrest Gump (1994): “Don’t you just love New Year’s? You can start all over.” Forrest is celebrating a new year with his buddy Lieutenant Dan and a couple ladies of dubious character. They move the party from a bar to Dan’s place, where he rages against the girls after they call Forrest stupid. Dan’s mental state after being rescued from war against his will is finally revealed a bit, as Forrest deduces his own understanding of Dan: “I guess Lieutenant Dan figured there's some things you can't change. He didn't want to be called crippled, just like I didn't want to be called stupid.”
Rent (2005): At the halfway point of this phenomenal Broadway darling-turned-screen drama, the ragtag group of financially struggling lower Manhattan friends celebrate the new year in, er, interesting fashion. The holiday is used merely as a plot device to show where we are the year (you know, the one we’re supposed to be measuring in love), but it’s still fun to see them have so much fun together, particularly if you know where their year is heading. P.S. Highly recommend this movie. It kills me that I wasn’t able to see the stage show before it left the Great White Way.
Poseidon (2006): Celebrating a winter holiday on a cruise ship looked fun until this horrifying film. In this re-make of 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure,” an unlikely band of comrades strive to make it out alive after a rogue wave slams into their ocean liner just after the stroke of midnight and capsizes it, leaving them all floating in an upside-down air bubble. But until that moment, it looks like a pretty rad party—even Fergie’s there rocking out.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012): Charlie experiments with LSD at a New Year’s party and is so out of whack by midnight that the countdown passes in a blur. If you’ve read the book and know his story, it really just makes you sad to see where his mental state is and what he’s using to try to reel it in. He’s so hell-bent on not feeling anything that he’s missing out on making some great memories.
And, of course … New Year’s Eve (2011): Because “Valentine’s Day” wasn’t bad enough, Garry Marshall had to throw together yet another ensemble gushy romantic mess of a holiday film. It even has repeat actors in different roles, so good luck trying to track who’s related to who or dating who or knows who and who’s trying to kiss who at midnight. Have I convinced you yet that I hate this film? Good, because I actually love it. However, I mostly attribute that to my love of Manhattan and my certifiably insane desire to spend at least one New Year’s Eve of my life in Times Square. And, well … a lot of my favorite actors are in it.
Happy New Year! I hope you all have a healthy and fun 2015.
P.S. Did I miss any of your faves? See if you can spot them in this supercut from Screen Junkies: