Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year! Movie edition

While 2008 had its charms, I'm not all that sorry to see it go. A new commander-in-chief, a new congress, (and for me) a fresh start on my new novel and potentially a painting show in September.

It's sort of an annual tradition to sit around New Year's Day, as well as the days leading up to it, and watch a few of our favorite New Year's movies. These are not to be confused with Christmas movies, and are distinctly different in theme and feeling. Most (but not all) have at least one scene/act that takes place on New Year's Eve, and all have something to do with giving up the old and welcoming the new.

Some of our favorites:

  • Hudsucker Proxy (1994) - Tim Robbins plays a naif elevated to the head of a company by schemers looking to take over. The film opens with Tim standing on the ledge of a giant clock on New Year's Eve, having a Moment of Truth as the old year ticks away. With Paul Newman as a nefarious board member and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a Girl Reporter with a machine gun delivery. Directed by the Coen Brothers at their most Fellini-esque.

  • Radio Days (1987)- set in the 1940's, when radio was king, this is probably my favorite Woody Allen movie; it's funny, cynical, beautifully nostalgic, and avoids the self-indulgence that often flaws his other films. Although he narrates, Allen doesn't actually appear in the film--his boyhood self is played by a thoroughly winning young Seth Green. Great New Year's scene at the end of the film. Also stars Michael Tucker, Julie Kravner, Mia Farrow and Dianne Wiest (and a host of other Allen favorites).

  • You've Got Mail (1998) - a bit more of a stretch: while the storyline passes across the holidays, New Year's isn't explicitly mentioned. But since it focuses on the death of old relationships and rebirth/new beginnings, it feels like a New Year's film. Regardless, I'm going to claim it. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have not been better on-screen. Fabulous supporting cast includes Dabney Coleman, Dave Chapelle, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey and Jean Stapleton. I'm always blubbering by the time Tom and Meg (inevitably) get together at the end. So sue me.

  • The Apartment (1960) - one of Billy Wilder's masterpieces: lying, adultery, blackmail sexual exploitation and a suicide attempt -- this is a comedy? Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and a thoroughly dispicable Fred McMurray. Academy Award for Best Picture.
Others New Year's Eve themed movies you may enjoy:
  • About a Boy (2002)
  • Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
  • Ocean's Eleven (2001 or 1961 versions)
  • 200 Cigarettes (1999)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • Holiday (1938)

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