Videos to ring in the new year -- The all-time best videos about renewal, including ''Places in the Heart'' and ''Cocoon''

As our heads clear from the New Year’s Eve parties, our thoughts inevitably turn to the spirit of the season — that is, starting over. Renewal is one of the oldest themes of Hollywood movies, and here are some of the all-time best treatments of the subject on video:

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
Robert Montgomery stars as Joe Pendleton, a light heavyweight contender who meets his end in a plane crash. But wait! It’s all been a heavenly mistake: According to the Master Plan, Joe has died 50 years too soon. And so back down to earth he goes-in a borrowed body — to fulfill his life dream of getting a shot at the title. Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait (1978) was a glossy update of this fast-paced and funny Hollywood fantasy. B

The Band Wagon (1953)
This Vincente Minnelli musical features Fred Astaire as a Hollywood has-been who finds himself stuck in a Broadway turkey. Regaining the old magic just in time, he saves the show — and his career. A witty show-biz spoof, the film’s truly revivifying moments are the dance numbers in which Astaire takes the stage with stunning Cyd Charisse. A

Summertime (1955)
In this David Lean gem, Katharine Hepburn plays a spinster whose life belatedly blooms when she falls in love on her first trip abroad. The time is summer, the place is Venice, and the man (Rossano Brazzi) is very married. The encounter only lasts a few enchanted evenings. But as Hepburn’s performance exquisitely makes clear, a romantic idyll, however short-lived, is rejuvenating. A-

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
The Enterprise voyages to the planet Genesis, an experiment in man-made life. The real point of this superior Trek mission is to reincarnate Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who dies at the end of Star Trek II. So what if that requires some superhuman leaps of faith? Anything that brings back the series’ best character is worth whatever it takes. B

Places in the Heart (1984)
Sally Field’s Edna Spaulding is just an ordinary Texas farm wife until her husband, the local sheriff, is killed. Left alone, she finds the true grit to weather a drought, a tornado, and the Great Depression — all while saving the family farm. Although the movies are full of women who find themselves after they lose their men, few films have been as genuinely inspiring as this realistic drama from writer-director Robert Benton. A-

Cocoon (1985)
In Ron Howard’s gentle sci-fi comedy, a group of senior citizens receives a long-term lease on life when they bathe in a fountain of youth. Actually, it’s a swimming pool containing some alien cocoons that exude a rejuvenating essence. To see Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and Hume Cronyn cavort like schoolboys is to believe in eternal youth. B+

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