Almost everyone celebrates the dawning of a new year, and it’s been in quite a bit of media over the decades. New Year’s Eve is about new resolutions, self-reflections, and sometimes professing love before the new year arrives. But what makes an excellent New Year’s Eve scene?
For one, it needs to be impactful. The scene needs to mean something to both the characters and the viewers. This can be anything from the resolution of an arc or perhaps the final blossoming of a romance, to a casual conversation between friends that reveals an important aspect we did not previously know. Either way, something needs to impact the movie. Generally, another critical aspect of every good New Year’s Eve scene is a countdown, as so much of New Year’s is about the passage of time and its irrevocable march forward and transition into the future. These countdowns are usually shown or heard somewhere in the scene and build tension; just hearing that feverish countdown can be exciting.
There are a wide variety of New Year’s Eve scenes in great films, such as Boogie Nights (1997), Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001), 200 Cigarettes (1999), The Godfather: Part II (1974). All these films are varying degrees of excellent, but this list is not focusing on the quality of the films themselves, but rather the importance and value of their New Year’s Eve scenes.
5/5 Ghostbusters II
Ghostbuster II is set five years after the first film. The Ghostbusters are no longer working together, as they were sued after the destruction caused during their big battle. But when a new paranormal threat emerges, they reunite once again.
This movie also contains an excellent New Year’s Eve scene. This time around, the big villain is the spirit of Vigo the Carpathian, who will attempt to possess a baby on New Year’s Eve to rejoin the world of the living. The overall plot is as humorous and outrageous as you would assume, but this New Year’s Eve scene, with the whole battle taking place as Auld Lang Syne plays in the background, makes for one of the most unique out there.
4/5 Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is a film which follows 30 years in the life of the remarkable titular character, a kind intellectually disabled man. The tale is one for the ages and is truly inspiring to the viewers who watched it, having gone down as one of the most memorable and quotable of all time. The New Year’s Eve scene in this movie is, contrary to the norm, one of the darkest moments in the film and New Year’s Eve scene history. It starts in a dive bar with Forrest and Lieutenant Dan. You can tell the Lieutenant has been struggling with losing his legs and living unhealthily with destructive coping mechanisms. Dan doesn’t smile as the New Year’s celebration happens around them, nor does he celebrate another year.
The two men take two women back to the Lieutenant’s apartment. This scene is dark and shows a type of sadness, regret, and depression that is often not portrayed in the media’s New Year’s scenes. But Forrest does not want to have a one-night stand with this woman, leading to Dan defending his friend and adding something else to this dark scene, his affection for Forest and his admiration for their friendship. While ultimately ambiguous, the scene ends with an incredibly touching sentiment.
3/5 Sex and the City
Set in New York City, the series follows the lives of four women who remain inseparable friends and confidants to each other despite being significantly different. While the actual TV show has its own New Year’s Eve scene or two, it’s the film version of Sex and the City that makes the list.
The film covers many different types of celebration, from small family gatherings to long-standing couples and, of course, new love. However, the film doesn’t stick with one motif; they have the excessive partiers, the awkward extended family gatherings, and run-ins with exes. The best scene is the montage between the characters Carrie and Miranda, where Carrie convinces Miranda not to spend time alone on New Year’s Eve. The montage shows some vulnerable moments when thinking of New Year’s Eve, the self-reflecting, and the pressure of future goals.
2/5 New Year’s Eve (2011)
New Year’s Eve explores the lives of several people, some single and some couples, over the course of the end-of-the-year holiday in New York City, and follows the tropes of interlocking rom-coms in the style of Love Actually. We see multitudes of different celebrations throughout the movie, as the entire film takes place on New Year’s Eve.
Since this movie only has New Year’s Eve scenes, it’s not possible to pick just one. However, the whole film is a testament to the holiday spirit and the different emotions of very different people experiencing the holiday at different points in their lives.
1/5 When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is said to be one of the best romantic comedies of all time. It follows two main characters, Harry and Sally; as they meet, they continue to run into each other, become best friends, and eventually fall in love. It’s a realistic story, full of interesting concepts and perceptions about love. The movie premise starts with Harry and Sally’s first debate about whether men and women could be strictly platonic friends.
After over 10 years of not knowing his feelings for Sally, Harry finally realizes he’s in love with her. He runs to the New Year’s Eve party to confess his love. Sally doesn’t buy it, thinking the holiday just makes him feel lonely. This forces Harry to make a speech to convince her. It’s said by many to be one of the best proclamations of love in cinematic history, and undoubtedly the best New Year’s Eve scene.