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Top 5 New Year’s Eve Movies

By Film Threat Staff | December 30, 2023

Ah, New Year’s Eve – that magical time when filmmakers capture the essence of new beginnings, resolutions, and often, chaotic celebrations. Let’s dive into some of the top movies that perfectly encapsulate the spirit of this festive occasion. These picks are sure to resonate with both aspiring and seasoned filmmakers, especially those who appreciate the creative flair that comes with the big screen.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

This classic rom-com, directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron, is a masterclass in character development and witty dialogue. The iconic New Year’s Eve scene is a testament to the film’s understanding of timing and emotional payoff – something any filmmaker could learn from. Throughout the film, Harry and Sally’s relationship evolves from acquaintances to friends, and then to something deeper. The New Year’s Eve scene is the culmination of their emotional journey. It’s where Harry realizes that Sally is the one he wants to start his new year (and the rest of his life) with.

The Apartment (1960)

A gem from Billy Wilder, this film combines romance, comedy, and drama, set against the backdrop of a corporate office and New Year’s Eve shenanigans. Its clever script and poignant social commentary offer a timeless lesson in how to weave complex themes into a compelling narrative. New Year’s Eve in “The Apartment” symbolizes a turning point for both Baxter and Fran. For Baxter, it’s about choosing between his career ambitions, which involve lending out his apartment to his superiors for their extramarital affairs, and his moral compass. For Fran, it’s about deciding between a hollow relationship with a married man and a potentially more fulfilling one with Baxter. The film juxtaposes the festive celebrations of New Year’s Eve with the loneliness and moral dilemmas faced by the characters.

Boogie Nights (1997)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this film’s New Year’s Eve scene is crucial to the plot and character arcs. It’s a brilliant example of using a specific moment in time to signify change and progression in a story – a skill any filmmaker should aspire to master. The film features a significant scene set during a New Year’s Eve party at the turn of the decade from the 1970s to the 1980s. It’s the last hurrah of the ’70s, a decade known for its excesses, especially in the context of the adult film industry depicted in the movie. The transition into the 1980s brings significant changes for the industry and the characters.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

This one’s a fun, relatable portrayal of New Year’s resolutions gone awry. It’s a masterclass in adapting a novel to the screen and creating a protagonist that’s both flawed and lovable – something indie filmmakers might find especially relevant. The film both starts and ends on New Year’s Eve, framing the entire narrative within the span of one year in Bridget’s life. New Year’s Eve, and the tradition of making resolutions, symbolizes the human desire for self-improvement and fresh starts. The difference in how Bridget spends New Year’s Eve at the beginning and end of the film highlights her personal growth.

Trading Places” (1983)

A comedy that uses New Year’s Eve as a backdrop for its climax. It’s a fantastic study in how to build a story to a satisfying and hilarious conclusion – all the while delivering a biting critique of social and economic structures. One of the most memorable scenes in Trading Places occurs during a New Year’s Eve party on a train. The main characters, Winthorpe and Valentine, along with Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Coleman (Denholm Elliott), execute a plan to get back at the Duke brothers, who have manipulated their lives for a bet. The New Year’s Eve setting adds an atmosphere of celebration and chaos, which enhances the comedic and satirical elements of the scene. It’s a clever use of a festive setting to heighten the stakes and the humor of the situation.

Each of these films offers unique insights into character development, storytelling, and thematic exploration – without the need for blockbuster budgets. They remind us that at the heart of great filmmaking is a story well told, something that resonates even more in the world of independent cinema. Whether you’re a scriptwriter, director, or an all-around cinephile, these movies are a treasure trove of inspiration as we step into the new year of filmmaking.

What New Year’s Eve movie would you put on the list?

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