Ah, another New Year's Eve is upon us—a time when amateur drinkers desperate to surround themselves with as many warm bodies as possible show up in droves at local watering holes and pay exorbitant entrance fees to be part of the "excitement." For those of you that don't find the consumption of alcohol quite so novel or prefer to ring in the New Year with a circle of close friends instead of random drunks, there is a variety of New Year's Eve-themed movies available on disc and VOD to get your party started.
One of our favorite and most underrated New Year's Eve movies is the 1999 ensemble comedy 200 Cigarettes starring Paul Rudd, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Christina Ricci, Martha Plimpton, Kate Hudson, Courtney Love Janeane Garofalo and many more. The film takes place during New Year's Eve 1981 and follows the various characters around Manhattan before they all converge at Plimpton's party before the stroke of midnight.
There are other New Year's Eve-related comedies out there that will be appropriate for your own soiree. Black-and-white enthusiasts might want to check out The Gold Rush in which Charlie Chaplin is stood up on New Year's Eve and dreams that he is the life of the party. In the screwball The Hudsucker Proxy starring Paul Newman and Tim Robbins, the climax takes place on a tall building's ledge on December 31.
Speaking of screwy, did anyone ask for a reteaming of White Men Can't Jump stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes in Money Train? If you're the one that did, the twosome plans a New Year's Eve heist aboard New York's subway system. Another heist goes down in the original Rat Pack caper Ocean's 11 in which Frank Sinatra and the gang plan to shut down the lights and rob a bunch of Las Vegas casinos on New Year's Eve.
Have a bit of a dark side? Didn't think 2011 was a banner year? There are a few movies out there that fit your mood, too. In Kathryn Bigelow's cyberpunk sci-fi thriller Strange Days, ex-cop Ralph Fiennes finds himself swallowed by a conspiracy that culminates in a New Year's Eve party filled with backstabbing and even a street riot. In 1999's End of Days, depressed retired cop Arnold Schwarzenegger spends most of New Year's Eve trying to prevent Robin Tunney from birthing the son of Satan (Gabriel Byrne) while the rest of Manhattan gets juiced. Byrne also plays a baddie in the grim 2005 remake of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 starring Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo and Mario Bello that moves the action to New Year's Eve as Detroit's oldest police station finds itself under attack during a blizzard just before it is to close forever.
The ultimate cautionary New Year's Eve tale—and the most acclaimed film on this list—is Sunset Blvd. Struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) doesn't know what he signed up for when he temporarily moves into the dusty mansion of faded silent-film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) to help her write a script that will spearhead her comeback. Not only must he witness a solemn chimpanzee funeral, the delusional Desmond falls in love with Joe and throws an elaborate New Year's Eve party complete with a band and servants just for the two of them. Joe, of course, resists her affections and eventually winds up face down in her pool. So whatever it is you're planning this New Year's Eve, learn from Joe Gillis and do it responsibly. Cheers!