Dec. 31 is one of the busiest nights of the year in bars and restaurants, which is precisely why I like to stay home. I don’t enjoy the crowds or the inevitable awkward midnight kissing that goes along with New Year’s Eve. But just because I don’t like to whoop it up in public doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate. I prefer to staycation, curling up with the P.M.C. (the Preferred Movie Companion), a bottle of something sparkly and a New Year’s Eve-themed movie.
For a romantic end-of-the-year mood I usually reach for The Apartment and watch Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon fall in love at their office New Year’s Eve party. Or I watch Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant sneak a kiss on Dec. 31, then make a deal to meet six months later on top of the Empire State Building in the soapy An Affair to Remember. But maybe the best mushy NYE scene comes from When Harry Met Sally. On New Year’s Eve (when else?) Harry says to Sally (who else would he say this to?), “I came here tonight 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.”
For Harry, New Year’s Eve was the beginning of the rest of his life but for the ill fated passengers on The Poseidon it was just the opposite. We’ve all had disastrous end of the year parties but none match one of my other favorites, The Poseidon Adventure. Right in the middle of their on-board New Year’s party, a wild wave knocks the ship for a loop, sending 10 passengers on a watery New Year’s trek to safety.
There are dozens of movies filed under “Auld Lang Syne” in my collection, like 200 Cigarettes—set during New Year’s Eve, 1981—and Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks has an imaginary conversation with his late wife. ‘”Here’s to us,” he says, while we wipe a tear or two.
There’s others like Sunset Blvd. and Bridget Jones’s Diary, but perhaps the greatest New Year’s Eve scene happens in The Godfather, Part 2. At a New Year’s Eve party in Havana, at the stroke of midnight, Michael Corleone grabs his brother Fredo, gives him a kiss, and says, “I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart.” Terrified, Fredo disappears, which gives new meaning to “may old acquaintance be forgot…”