Sure, these fantastic flicks may not all centre on everyone’s favourite party night, but rest assured, New Year’s Eve plays a key role in each of ’em. To be honest, I’m surprised the act of ushering in Auld Lang Syne doesn’t appear more often in quality cinematic fare. Hey Hollywood: how about we make that your resolution for 2013?
‘The Hudsucker Proxy’
This flick flopped in its day, but has rightfully garnered a strong cult following in recent years. It’s the goofy story of a corporate mail room employee (Tim Robbins) who, through a series of complex schemes (are there any other kinds with the Coen Bros?) ends up inventing the hula hoop. “You know… for kids!” Without giving too much away, the beautifully surreal climax unfolds on a New York skyscraper ledge on New Year’s Eve. Think of it as Frank Capra-esque in the best possible way.
The Hurt Locker wasn’t Kathryn Bigelow’s first rodeo, ya know. Say hello to 1995’s Strange Days, her cyber-sci-fi thriller about a charismatic bootlegger (Ralph Fiennes) who uncovers a rather nasty police conspiracy. And it all comes to a head during the most hotly-anticipated New Year’s Eve in history: December 31, 1999. Oh, and there’s a whole thing about Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices, which record events directly from your brain, thereby allowing other people to experience parts of your life first-hand. That’s some serious Philip K. Dick kinda stuff, amigo! Strange Days was nominated for five Saturn Awards, including ‘Best Science Fiction Film’ (trivia: it was co-written by James freakin’ Cameron!). New Year’s Eve sci-fi at its best.
‘The Gold Rush’
You can’t get any less sci-fi than Mr. Charles Chaplin. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The Gold Rush has long been heralded as a gem of the silent era and a masterpiece of 20th century cinema. Chaplin’s beloved Tramp hits the Klondike in search of gold, but ends up with more than he bargained for (ain’t that always the way?). And in one of the first New Year’s Eve sequences ever committed to celluloid, Chaplin daydreams inside his tiny cabin, envisioning himself holding court at a flapper-tastic year-end party. Even 90 years later, it’s still as touching as all get-out.
No, not the Steven Soderbergh remake, but the original Rat Pack version. Sure, it’s a tad dated, but in a charming 1960s way, which makes it awesome. And as you’d expect given the title of this blog, the big heist takes place on New Year’s Eve. Hey, what better time to make off with five casinos’ worth of cash? Everyone’s either drunk, sloppily groping each other, or generally making plenty of distracting noise. The perfect cover for a cool-as-ice caper on the hot Vegas sands, baby. Ring-a-ding-ding.
‘When Harry Met Sally’
What can be said about this film that you don’t already know? It’s one of the best — and funniest — romantic comedies of all time. It turned both its leads (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) into superstars and cemented Rob Reiner’s status as an A-list director. And best of all, it ends spectacularly well, courtesy of Harry and Sally finally airing their emotional laundry at — wait for it — the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. Hey, what better time to lay the ol’ cards on the table, am I right?