20 rockin' New Year's Eve movies
These scenes set on Dec. 31 are sure to raise spirits before the ball drops.
When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Possibly the greatest New Year's Eve scene of all: After years as friends with (occasional) benefits, Harry (Billy Crystal) finally declares his love for Sally (Meg Ryan). The best quote? "It's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve," Harry says after party-crashing. "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."
The Godfather Part II (1974)
Who said a midnight kiss had to be romantic? Take a trip to Havana and ring in the new year with the Corleones, as Michael (Al Pacino) delivers the kiss of death to (spoiler?) his traitorous brother Fredo (John Cazale).
After the Thin Man (1936)
William Powell and Myrna Loy are Nick and Nora Charles for the second time (of six, eventually) in this Dec. 31-set murder mystery. Come for the '30s glamour and witty repartee, stay for a very, very young Jimmy Stewart as a desperate, rejected lover (and on New Year's, no less!).
About Time (2013)
The central love story in Richard Curtis' rom-com doesn't blossom until later, but Tim's (Domhnall Gleeson) journey truly begins on his 21st New Year's Eve, which ends in disappointment — the first time he experiences it, anyway. No time like a brand new year to learn you possess the power of time travel!
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
You're single, a little sad, and bracing for a booze-soaked New Year's Eve blowout. It could be worse: You could have to face your mom tomorrow at a turkey curry buffet. This Renée Zellweger romp is perfect NYE material: It's all about fresh starts, clean slates, and Colin Firth.
Ocean's 11 (1960)
Step aside, Clooney. Vegas on New Year's Eve sets the scene for the original Ocean's 11, a Rat Pack classic starring Frank Sinatra as the mastermind of the epic heist, with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford rounding out his team of 11.
Someone Like You (2001)
It's romantic comedy 101: New Year's Eve rolls around and our hero (the plucky Ashley Judd) realizes her feelings for a platonic pal (the hunky Hugh Jackman). It helps that she's been stood up by her bad-news ex-boyfriend. She rushes out to meet him — but will she make it in time for a countdown kiss?
Sex and the City: The Movie (2008)
It's kind of like the scenario from Someone Like You. Only, this time, the role of Hugh Jackman is played by Cynthia Nixon. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) rushes to Miranda's apartment for a New Year's bonding session. She even (gasp!) takes the subway. Now that's a good friend.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are at the top of their game in this romantic comedy. But, the sweetest scene comes when Hanks' grieving Sam Baldwin imagines a New Year's Eve conversation with his deceased wife (played by the ethereal Carey Lowell). "Here's to us."
The Apartment (1960)
It takes a truly disastrous NYE party to make Shirley MacLaine's Fran realize her love for Jack Lemmon's Bud in this 1960 romantic dramedy about an office worker who lends his apartment out to company executives — and their many mistresses.
Trading Places (1983)
Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis (with her Swedish meatballs) board a New York-bound party train for New Year's in this comedy classic. Bonus: The movie's anti-fat-cat-banker sentiment feels just as relevant today as it was in 1983.
200 Cigarettes (1999)
Set during New Year's Eve 1981, this quirky nostalgia piece stars a who's who of the late-'90s: Ben and Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Christina Ricci, Dave Chappelle, Janeane Garofalo, Martha Plimpton, Paul Rudd, Gaby Hoffmann, and Courtney Love.
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this New Year's Eve-set film, directed by the Coen brothers and costarring the divine Paul Newman. Be prepared to break out the hula hoops.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
New Year's Eve is all about looking ahead — even for a fading silent movie star who's trapped in the past. This 1950 gem (starring Gloria Swanson as the past-her-prime legend Norma Desmond and William Holden as her reluctant boy toy) perfectly captures the melancholy misery of forced optimism.
No plans this evening? Why not pull off a major bank heist? Before you do, though, watch this Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery film that centers around a crime that takes place mere minutes before the arrival of the new millennium.
About a Boy (2002)
Perennial man-child Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) has some serious growing up to do. Good thing, then, that he gets seated next to emotionally mature Rachel (Rachel Weisz) at a New Year's dinner party.
No matter how bad your night is, at least you're not stuck on a rapidly-sinking cruise ship with Josh Lucas and Fergie. Boom, boom, POW!
An Affair to Remember (1957)
Terry (Deborah Kerr) falls for the always adorable Nickie (Cary Grant) in this 1957 weeper. The two share a sweet kiss on New Year's Eve, but they're both engaged to other people. They decide to meet six months later at the top of the Empire State Building (assuming, of course, they're still interested). What happens? C'mon. Didn't you see Sleepless in Seattle?
Phantom Thread (2017)
Paul Thomas Anderson's twisted relationship drama reaches a high point with a charged scene set at a New Year's Eve party, to which the stubborn Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) has followed the equally willful Alma (Vicky Krieps). As they exchange a meaningful stare, we come to understand how two people can simultaneously be so wrong yet so right for each other.
New Year's Eve (2011)
An all-star ensemble that includes Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Hilary Swank comes together to celebrate New Year's Eve in NYC. While not a critics' favorite, we raise our glass to that level of star wattage.