30 Best New Year’s Movies to Cue up as We Get Ready to Ring in 2021
It’s hard to believe that we’ve—by some grace of magic—almost made it to the end of 2020. And if we’re being honest, we can’t wait to say good riddance to this rather confusing and difficult year.
Considering our plans for New Year’s are going to be looking quite different this year, we decided to start a new tradition of bingeing some of our favorites on-theme holiday flicks. From New Year’s Eve to When Harry Met Sally, keep reading for 30 New Year's movies to kick off 2021 in the best (and most comfortable) way possible.
1. ‘New Year's Eve’ (2011)
Who’s in it? Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher
What’s it about? Giving off some serious Love Actually and Valentine’s Day vibes, this sweet flick features the lives of several couples and singles in New York City that in one way or another interconnect over the course of New Year's Eve. While it may not be filmmaker Garry Marshall best work, it still makes for a quality viewing experience.
2. ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993)
Who’s in it? Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger
What’s it about? If you’re looking for something more romantic to watch on NYE, there's no better option than this emotional tear-jerker that follows a young boy conspiring to unite a widower and an unhappily engaged journalist. Make sure you have your tissues ready for the scene where Hanks’s character pretends he’s sharing a beer on New Year’s Eve with his late wife. (And the witty Nora Ephron dialogue is always a plus).
3. ‘Happy New Year, Charlie Brown’ (1986)
Who’s in it? Chad Allen, Kristie Baker, Melissa Guzzi
What’s it about? In this 1986 short, Charlie Brown is forced to attend Peppermint Patty's New Year's Eve celebration, even though he has to finish the novel “War and Peace.” And since we’ve celebrated practically every other holiday with the Peanuts gang, why not start off the year with them as well?
4. ‘Rent’ (2005)
Who’s in it? Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson
What’s it about? The Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning show remains one of the most popular musicals of all time. Like the stage versions, the film dives into the lives of struggling New Yorkers while dealing with the AIDS epidemic in their community. The first act takes place in the time between Christmas Eve and New Year's and genuinely captures the hope that comes with the start of each and every new year.
5. ‘Four Rooms’ (1995)
Who’s in it? Tim Roth, Antonio Banderas, Sammi Davis
What’s it about? Loosely based on Roald Dahl’s adult fiction, the flick follows four interlocking tales of debauchery that take place at the fading Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve. Co-written by Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Quentin Tarantino, this one definitely is not suited for children.
6. ‘Waiting to Exhale’ (1995)
Who’s in it? Whitney Houston, Lela Rochon, Angela Bassett
What’s it about? Based on Terry McMillan's best-selling novel, this touching film about four friends searching for true love starts and ends on New Year's and follows the group over the course of the year. And Basset’s character starting off her year by getting dumped by her husband and setting his BMW on fire reminds us that our year could be worse. (This one’s a can’t-miss for the Whitney soundtrack alone.)
7. ‘About Time’ (2013)
Who’s in it? Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
What’s it about? This uplifting flick tells the story of a young man who realizes he has the ability to time travel. Naturally, the first thing he does is return to the New Year's Eve party the night before and kiss the girl he was crushing on. A wonderful reminder to cherish each and every day.
8. ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994)
Who’s in it? Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
What’s it about? Despite childlike tendencies and learning disabilities, Forrest Gump leads a pretty normal life, but challenges arise when it comes to his relationship with his childhood sweetheart. Technically, only one scene takes place on New Year’s (and it’s stressful) but we’ll use any excuse to watch this classic.
9. ‘Two Lovers’ (2009)
Who’s in it? Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw
What’s it about? This Brooklyn-set romantic drama is about a bachelor torn between the woman his parents wish he would marry and his beautiful yet troubled new neighbor. The dramatic final scene takes place on (you guessed it) New Year's Eve, because, of course.
10. ‘Are We There Yet?’ (2005)
Who’s in it? Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
What’s it about? Bet you totally forgot about this one, because we sure did. A large part of the film actually takes place on New Year's Eve, when Nick (Ice Cube) must drive his girlfriend's reluctant children from Portland to Vancouver. Of course, they try to sabotage him every step of the way.
11. ‘The Holiday’ (2006)
Who’s in it? Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law
What’s it about? Winslet and Diaz star as Iris and Amanda, two ladies who try to avoid their love problems by agreeing to switch homes during the holiday season. Spoiler alert: Both of these two unexpectedly find love along the way. The New Year's Eve scene is minimal and comes at the end of the film, but it's definitely one of the sweetest parts.
12. ‘Bridget Jones's Diary’ (2001)
Who’s in it? Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant
What’s it about? The charming British comedy begins and ends on New Year's Eve, with the beloved Bridg trying to navigate her love life while documenting it all in her personal diary. This irresistible flick is so good, we’re not surprised that it managed to spawn two sequels.
13. ‘Poseidon’ (2006)
Who’s in it? Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell, Emmy Rossum
What’s it about? We know what you’re thinking: “How is a movie about a luxury cruise liner considered a New Year’s Eve film?” Well, the shipwreck in the original 1979 sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, as well as the 2006 remake Poseidon, actually takes place on the biggest night of the year right in the middle of the midnight celebrations.
14. ‘While You Were Sleeping’ (1995)
Who’s in it? Sandra Bullock, Peter Gallagher, Bill Pullman
What’s it about? A lonely Chicago Transit worker falls in love with a man she's never met and ends up saving his life from an oncoming train. In a rather risky move, she pretends to be the fiancée when he goes into a coma. The NYE scene is a swoony turning point in the movie, in which the "L" train employee realizes her feelings for the comatose man’s brother.
15. ‘Phantom Thread’ (2017)
Who’s in it? Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville
What’s it about? Phantom Thread tells the story of Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned dressmaker whose carefully tailored life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover. Gripping and incredibly tense, we’re swooning over the fabulous New Year's Eve party scene that is sure to make you wish you had lived in London in the '50s.
16. ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013)
Who’s in it? Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton
What’s it about? Picture this: It’s 2031, and an attempt to thwart climate change has turned the planet into an uninhabitable icebox. The remaining lucky survivors are all aboard a train, the Snowpiercer, that travels around the world in an endless loop. Oh, and Chris Evans’ character picks New Year’s Eve to start a revolt against the upper class.
17. ‘Sex and the City’ (2008)
Who’s in it? Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
What’s it about? While the film takes place over the course of a year, it’s the important sequence on New Year's Eve, you know, the one that shows Carrie running through the snowy streets of New York to Miranda’s apartment while Mairi Campbell's "Auld Lang Syne" plays in the background, that really brings us to tears.
18. ‘200 Cigarettes’ (1999)
Who’s in it? Paul Rudd, Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck
What’s it about? Like an earlier version of New Year’s Eve, 200 Cigarettes follows "a collection of twenty-somethings” as they try to cope with relationships, loneliness and desire on what’s supposed to be the biggest night of the year, New Year’s Eve in 1981.
19. ‘Ghostbusters 2’ (1989)
Who’s in it? Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
What’s it about? Our favorite supernatural crime fighters are back only this time they’re fighting against the Statue of Liberty who came to life just as the New Year’s Eve festivities begin. How convenient. Trust us, this hilarious film will everyone thankful to start the new year off without an enormous underground river of slime oozing through the streets.
20. ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989)
Who’s in it? Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher
What’s it about? This quirky romantic comedy follows a pair of New Yorkers who are convinced to their core that men and women can’t just be friends. The New Year's connection comes at the end of the film (probably the most pivotal scene) during a New Year's Eve party. Classic.
21. ‘Trading Places’ (1983)
Who’s in it? Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy
What’s it about? The film follows a snobbish investor and a wily street con artist who suddenly find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two millionaires. Trading Places spans Thanksgiving to New Year's, with the most crucial scenes taking place at an end-of-the-year party aboard a train. We promise you’ll be laughing your way into 2021 with this one.
22. ‘Boogie Nights’ (1997)
Who’s in it? Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore
What’s it about? As you probably already know, this film is strictly for adults. So, if you’re looking for an R rated way to ring in the new year, this film about the adult film industry includes a very intense (and graphic) New Year’s Eve party.
23. ‘MOney Train’ (1995)
Who’s in it? Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez
What’s it about? If you're planning on robbing a train carrying all of the money earned by the NYC subway system, this movie teaches us that the best time to do so is on New Year’s Eve. And Lopez starring as Officer Grace Santiago (whom the robber are both in love with and running from) is just the icing on the cake.
24. ‘New Year’s Evil’ (1980)
Who’s in it? Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace
What’s it about? During a New Year's Eve celebration, a disc jockey in Los Angeles receives an ominous phone call revealing that when New Year's strikes in each time zone, a lonely single woman will die at the hands of a evil murderer. Oh, and that includes her.
25. ‘Carol’ (2016)
Who’s in it? Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson
What’s it about? The film set in the 1950s follows two women from opposite worlds who enter into a life-altering affair and fall in love. Of course, their first kiss takes place at one of the most romantic events of the year—an extravagant New Year’s Eve party.
26. ‘Happy New Year’ (2014)
Who’s in it? Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan
What’s it about? A bunch of amateur dancers take part in a dancing competition and win the hearts of millions—all as part of their quest to pull off the biggest diamond heist in history.
27. ‘Strange Days’ (1995)
Who’s in it? Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis
What’s it about? A former cop turned street-hustler accidentally uncovers a conspiracy in Los Angeles in the final days of 1999 when he begins illegally selling virtual reality-like recordings that allow users to experience the emotions and past experiences of others.
28. ‘Ocean’s 11’ (1960)
Who’s in it? Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.
What’s it about? This 1960 Rat Pack film—which was remade in 2001 with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon—follows Danny Ocean and a gang of World War II veterans as they try to rob five Las Vegas casinos at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
29. ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974)
Who’s in it? Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
What’s it about? The sequel follows the early life and career of Vito Corleone in the 1920s, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate. And while the movie isn’t centered around the holiday, the “kiss of death” scene, which just might be one of the most memorable in the film, occurs on New Year’s Eve.
30. ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ (2005)
Who’s in it? Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Gabriel Byrne
What’s it about? An unlikely partnership with a highway patrol officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang. Perhaps not the most festive movie on this list—but a large portion of the action takes place on NYE.