20 Best New Year’s Eve Movies to Ring in 2020
From classic rom-coms to holiday horror, celebrate the big night with these flicks that ring in the New Year in style.
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New Year’s Eve (2011)
Starting at $1.28
The quintessential New Year’s Eve movie, this ensemble dramedy interweaves several smaller stories, Love Actually–style. Watch its many big-name stars race the clock to find love and peace in the Big Apple on New Year’s Eve. Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele get stuck on an elevator. Sarah Jessica Parker feuds with daughter Abigail Breslin before a romantic meet-up with Josh Duhamel. Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel are having a baby and Jon Bon Jovi needs to kiss and make up with Katherine Heigl. The kicker is the sweet courtship between Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron. Happy endings abound! Here are 11 of our favorite feel-good movie endings of all time.
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When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Starting at $5.00
One of the most romantic scenes of all time happens when Harry (Billy Crystal) races through the streets of Manhattan to pledge his love to Sally (Meg Ryan) on New Year’s Eve and lands with this iconic line: “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.” As New Year’s revelers countdown to midnight, Harry and Sally are still squabbling. They finally get together around 12:01 AM while discussing what “Auld Lang Syne” means—a question we can answer!
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Starting at $3.99
In one of the infamous 1970s disaster spectacles, a tidal wave hits a cruise ship right during the big New Year’s Eve gala. The boat capsizes and that’s when the party really gets rolling. Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, and Shelley Winters fight to reach the surface and set things right again. But it’s a dangerous journey through the underbelly of the giant ship. The 2006 remake, Poseidon, also sets the big disaster right on New Year’s Eve!
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Starting at $3.99
Billy Wilder’s classic noir film is an ode to silent Hollywood. During the famous New Year’s Eve scene, young William Holden discovers a “sad and embarrassing revelation”: that he is the only guest at Gloria Swanson’s extravagant New Year’s Eve party. Famous director and silent film actor Erich von Stroheim stars as the aging actress’s butler. He and the orchestra players watch on as the two dance alone in this paean to loneliness and nostalgia. He could have used some of these tips on great ways to spend New Year’s Eve alone.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Starting at $3.99
This Oscar winner spans decades and checks off the inclusion of several historical milestones, but you may have forgotten that there’s a New Year’s Eve scene in there! On New Year’s Eve in 1972, Forrest (Tom Hanks) parties in New York City with his old war buddy Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise). Forrest ends up unintentionally ruining Dan’s planned romantic encounter, but friendship wins out when Dan loses it after the women they’re with call Forrest stupid.
The Godfather Part II (1974)
Starting at $5.79
The “kiss of death” scene, which Bustle calls “probably the most memorable scene out of the entire three-film series,” occurs on New Year’s Eve! New Year’s Eve 1958, in Havana, Cuba, to be precise. Michael (Al Pacino) confronts his brother Fredo (John Cazale) for his betrayal—the first time the audience learns Fredo is the rat. He plants a kiss on him and says, “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.” It’s a major twist in the film as familial bonds are broken and Michael passes the point of no return. Despite it being The Godfather‘s choice, Havana doesn’t make our list of best cities worldwide to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Ocean’s 11 (1960)
Starting at $2.99
Oh yes, this is the original Ocean’s 11, not the George Clooney-Brad Pitt version! Cinema buffs know that Frank Sinatra was the first Danny Ocean—he and his Rat Pack buddies decide to rob five Las Vegas casinos in a single night. And that night is New Year’s Eve, 15 years after the gang fought in World War II together.
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway (2009)
Theater geeks are divided on the 2005 film version of Rent, partly because it removes some of the musical numbers that appeared in the 1996 Broadway production. One of those is the song “Happy New Year,” where the gang preps for New Year’s Eve. And while the film version includes a not-so-happy New Year’s Day scene, get the full experience by watching the final performance of the Broadway musical. The holidays are not the focus of this modern-day La Bohème adaptation, but the action starts around Christmastime and continues into the new year “at the end of the millennium.” If you just sang that line in your head, you probably don’t need us to tell you about these must-watch movie musicals.
The Apartment (1960)
Starting at $3.99
This charming old-Hollywood classic is a staple on our list of great romantic movies that even non-romantics love. Shirley MacLaine is having an affair with Jack Lemmon’s skeevy boss but ends up falling in love with nice-guy Lemmon instead after unfortunate circumstances force them into close quarters. At the end of the film, MacLaine rushes to Lemmon’s apartment on New Year’s Eve after realizing that he’s in love with her—and gets an adorable surprise when she arrives. Fun fact: MacLaine was also in Ocean’s 11 in 1960, two films in the same year where her final appearance took place on NYE.
Trading Places (1983)
Merry New Year! Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy hatch a plan to take down the villainous Duke brothers who placed a bet on whether or not a street hustler and a successful stock broker can trade places. To foil their plan, Ackroyd and Murphy will need to intercept a crop report being delivered via train on New Year’s Eve. This beloved comedy deals with classism and racism in corporate America, but the bad guys go broke while Ackroyd and Murphy get rich quick and end up sipping piña coladas on a sunny beach. For some more New Year’s laughs, check out these hilarious things people actually drop instead of a ball to ring in the new year.