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10 Best New Year’s Eve Movies, Ranked

Ray, Egon, and Peter in Ghostbusters 2. (Columbia Pictures)

Christmas movies tend to take the spotlight for the bulk of December, but the week in between December 25 and January 1 just hits differently. It’s a time to reflect and look forward, which makes it the perfect occasion to pop on a movie that involves a New Year’s celebration. Here are 10 fun choices, many of which are often overlooked.

10. New Year’s Evil

New Year's Evil movie poster.
(Cannon Film Distributors)

That’s right, a New Year’s horror movie exists! The killer in the movie has a unique plan: to murder people as the new year begins in each American time zone.

Released in 1980, this movie is admittedly pretty dated. It focuses on people involved in the punk rock and new wave music scenes, and even has its own theme song (also titled “New Year’s Evil”). Still, it’s nice to have a New Year’s movie that’s not all about that big midnight kiss or the melancholic passage of time.


A still from the movie Rent.
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

New Year’s Eve plays a key role in this story, which is a musical that tells the story of a group of friends affected by HIV and AIDS in the late 1980s. Its signature song, “Seasons of Love,” has become a popular song to sing and play on New Year’s Eve.

While this film isn’t generally considered to be as good as the stage musical it’s based on, the thing about the RENT movie is that most of the original Broadway cast were able to reprise their roles. This means viewers get to see true musical theatre superstars on screen, including a pre-Wicked and Frozen Idina Menzel as the sassy and seductive Maureen.

If you’re a fan of Tick, Tick… Boom! and haven’t seen RENT, you’ll want to check it out, as it is considered the crown jewel of the work of Jonathan Larson, the subject of the former film.

8. Ghostbusters II

Ray, Egon, and Peter in Ghostbusters 2.
(Columbia Pictures)

Ghosts are back in New York City, this time ready to ruin everyone’s New Year’s Eve, in the sequel to the 1984 comedy classic.

While not as well-regarded as the original, Ghostbusters II offers some fun fit for New Year’s Eve, as the film includes a wild New Year’s Eve (though not quite as scary as the one in the aforementioned New Year’s Evil). Heck, “Auld Lang Syne” actually plays a key role in the movie’s climax. It doesn’t get more New Year’s Eve than that!

7. An American in Paris

A still from the movie An American in Paris.

Featuring possibly the best and most extravagant New Year’s Eve party ever put to film, An American in Paris is a musical starring a pre-Singin’ in the Rain Gene Kelly.

The New Year’s Eve party depicted here is iconic and quite wild for a movie that came out in 1951; the decor looks like a mix of Halloween and Las Vegas, and features plenty of wild antics and quirky outfits (all in black and white). In addition to the New Year’s fun, this film contains quite a few classic songs, including “‘S Wonderful” and “I Got Rhythm” and plenty of dancing (unsurprisingly, considering this is a Gene Kelly movie) and can be considered the first big jukebox musical.

6. Mermaids

Mermaids movie poster.
(Orion Pictures)

Both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are significant events in this 1990 film starring the tour de force trio of Cher, Winona Ryder, and Christina Ricci. It’s a coming-of-age tale focused on Ryder’s character and her tense and tumultuous relationship with her mother (Cher, naturally).

Mermaids is actually a period piece, and the new year in question is 1964. Regardless, this is one of those movies where the topics discussed—love, sex, religion, and family—are timeless (though it is enjoyable to see all the old fashions on full display).

Fun fact: This is the movie that Cher’s cover of “The Shoop Shoop Song” was attached to, and the music video features all three of the film’s leads!

5. New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve movie poster.
(Warner Bros.)

Despite being a relatively recent release, having come out in 2011, New Year’s Eve is probably the quintessential movie for the holiday it’s named after, even if it is too schmaltzy for some.

Following the style of Love Actually and Valentine’s Day (the latter of which was directed by the late Garry Marshall, just like this movie), New Year’s Eve stars an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Katherine Heigl, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Naturally, it takes place on December 31 and follows a bunch of interweaving stories as the characters mark the end of one year and the start of the next in different ways.

This movie covers everything from the big Times Square celebration to the race to have the first baby born in the new year, and everything in between. You’re bound to have had a similar New Year’s Eve experience to at least one of the characters, and can enjoy living vicariously through some of the others.

4. Happy New Year, Charlie Brown

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown poster art.

Okay, this one isn’t actually feature-length (if you want a longer experience, you can pair it with another Peanuts special, perhaps She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, which is often shown on television alongside this one, or Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown, which has similar themes to Happy New Year), but it’s one of the few New Year’s television specials out there and is one worth watching.

For once, Charlie Brown’s winter vacation is focused on a holiday other than Christmas, as there’s a big New Year’s Eve party he wants to attend, but he has to write a book report (on War and Peace, of all things!). Of course, he puts it off until the end of the break and has a tough choice to make come the big night.

This one doesn’t tend to be regarded as highly as other Peanuts holiday offerings, but it’s for sure worth the watch if you’re a fan of the characters and are a fan of some of their other specials. And if you’ve already watched this one a million times, check out the newer Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne, which came out in 2021.

3. Bridget Jones’s Diary

A still from Bridget Jones's Diary.
(Miramax Films)

Renée Zellweger plays the titular role in this modern-day Pride and Prejudice based on a novel published a few years prior to the film’s release.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a British romcom with a love triangle at its core, and the two guys vying for the lead’s affection are played by none other than Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. At just 96 minutes, it’s short and sweet, but if you want more Bridget Jones, there are two sequels, as well.

The movie takes place over an entire year, beginning with New Year’s Day and ending on New Year’s Eve, which makes viewing it a fitting way to start or end a year.

2. When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally movie still with Carrie Fisher and Meg Ryan.
(Columbia Pictures)

This slow-burn romantic comedy is seen by many as a “fall movie.” While it’s definitely fitting for that season, it’s largely about the passage of time, which also makes it a great watch for the end of one year or the start of another.

Two people have several chance meetings over many years, eventually beginning an actual friendship. The film poses the age-old question of whether men and women can be friends, but as those involved with the movie have pointed out, the real message here isn’t the answer to that question, but the importance of friendship within romance itself.

And of course, New Year’s Eve does play a key role here, but it’s definitely a spoiler for those who haven’t watched before!

1. High School Musical

High School Musical movie still.

The trilogy that defined a generation of Disney Channel kicks off on a fateful New Year’s Eve, which sees the meeting of two strangers who soon meet up again when they start their new semester of high school just one week later.

The very first song of the movie—and the franchise—takes place at a New Year’s Eve party and can be a great way to build up to the countdown to midnight at your own celebration. But above all, it’s the message of the movie that solidifies it as a New Year’s Eve staple. Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something different is something many people resolve to do in the new year, but far fewer actually stick to it. High School Musical shows that while it can be hard, it’s more than worthwhile in the end.

Watch this movie and have a happy Wildcat new year!

(featured image: Columbia Pictures)

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