5. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
A marvelous film that explores the age old question: can men and women be just friends? Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) always seem to bump into each other during different stages of life, first in a car trip from Chicago to New York, where their personalities clash. Harry insists that women and men could never be friends because the man will always lust after the woman. As their paths keep on crossing, the two do become friends, expressing to each other their dreams, hopes, and intimate fantasies… revealing they may be the perfect match for each other, as the dirty deed of “doing it” looms over and threatens their friendship.
“When Harry Met Sally” is a perfect rom-com with brilliant dialogue that’s equal parts sweet, brutal, and realistic; a celebration of love and change as years and tears go by. Reminds me of my real life.
The most intense and passionate sequence in the film is when Harry and Sally attempt to resist the romance fluttering between them at a New Year’s party. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s chemistry is unmatched, and Carrie Fisher as Sally’s friend Marie owns some great moments. A perfect watch for New Year’s Eve, whether you’re alone, with friends, or Netflix and chilling.
4. Carol (2015)
A seductive portrait of a married older woman’s intense affair with a shy, young flame, “Carol” is a strong commentary on the conformist world of 1950s America in which department store worker Therese Belibet (Rooney Mara) meets the flirtatious and beautiful blondie Carol (Cate Blanchett). As Carol browses the doll aisle, the two spark up the unseen, passionate ember of forbidden love. Intoxicating, erotic, and swooning, Carol is among the greatest films of the 21st century thanks to Todd Hayne’s spellbinding, Sirkian direction and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara’s monumental performances. The bigotry of Nuclear America is ugly to watch, and luckily is contrasted by the heavenly, glamorous love shared between our two leading women in a frost covered Manhattan.
“Carol’s” most powerful scene takes place on New Year’s Eve, and marks a significant and wonderful change in their relationship that the world rails against.
3. Boogie Nights (1997)
God gave doe eyed 70s teenager Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) a huge gift- and this huge gift sends Eddie soaring to the highest heights in the adult film industry, where he reinvents himself into America’s #1 erotic film star: Dirk Diggler! Every new year comes with new challenges, and a new decade results in even more. When the 80s brings to existence videotape- a crude, cheap way of making movies- Eddie’s world and the adult industry’s Golden Age comes tumbling down.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” is a masterful ensemble epic with a cast of flawed but extremely likable characters. The film starts off fun, funky, and party centric, but after the events of a New Year’s party, reveals itself to be something darker and more moving in tone. These are hard working, brave individuals that are searching for dignity in an outside world that gives them no respect. This dilemma causes these adult film workers to be instantly human and relatable.
Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) is a director who wants to make his films art by giving them story and passion that outlasts temporary feelings of lust. Amber Waves (Julliane Moore) is a mother who wants to have custody over her child, but can’t due to the stigma surrounding her profession. Eddie’s a small town boy who dreams of being a big city star. “Boogie Nights” is an American tale of finding family, art, and acceptance in what appears to be an unexpected place. It’s also a love letter to film and its grainy charms, and a middle finger to video and its hazy horrors.
Burt Reynolds and Jullianne Moore give terrific, nuanced performances here (as expected), and Heather Graham and Mark Wahlberg give the gosh darned cutest performances of their careers. And yeah, PTA is a good director.
2. The Apartment (1960)
Billy Wilder’s best romantic comedy is dressed in the backdrop of a fading Christmas. Insurance employee CC Baxter (Jack Lennon) lends his apartment out as a secret den to his sleazy boss, Jeff, who uses it for extramarital affairs. Fun! One of Jeff’s mistresses is elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine), and things get complicated at work when Fran and Jeff develop feelings for each other. Both are sad individuals broken by the corporate machine, and in coming together begin to repair and complete each other.
Although “Apartment” is a romantic comedy, a sense of melancholy pervades most of the film, with forgotten Christmas decorations melting out of style, and bland office buildings that keep lives sad and boring. Embodying the New Year spirit by celebrating the impact a new person can have on one’s life, “The Apartment” ends on what could be considered cinema’s most suspenseful New Year countdown.
1. Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986)
A bleak Charlie Brown tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown” follows our titular character as he gets thrown into a series of depressing situations. He’s assigned a book report on “War and Peace” over Christmas break that’s due New Year’s Day, and he tries to finish it as drama in his life goes full turbulence at a New Year’s Eve party.
Folks, you simply can’t go wrong with Peanuts. This special has got everything: partying, countdowns, dancing, and New Year’s resolutions! Charles M Schultz is the greatest artist in the history of existence, and this television special is no exception. When life gets weary, this Charlie Brown episode reminds us to roll with the punches.