top of page

Reel Streaming: A New Year's Eve Film Countdown

One film journalist’s stream-of-consciousness cinematic journey through the pandemic, Part 112

By Laurence Lerman / New York City

There are less than two weeks to go before we say goodbye to 2022 and take the plunge into 2023. The past year has found us wiping the pandemic slumber from our eyes as we all fight to maintain our health and attempt to slip back into regular life outside of our homes (meaning a return to stores, restaurants, movie theaters, concert halls, houses of worship, and for some, the office).

But we’re still excited to offer you the finest in Reel Streaming—meaning, a curated look at suggestions for celluloid streaming in the comfort of your home. Who are we fooling, here? We quite enjoy pressing play and watching a movie in the warmth of our living rooms as the winter chill (and snow!) moves in.

I’m as excited to get back to movie theaters regularly as you are, the risk of Covid and the lure of streaming notwithstanding, but that’s something we’ll get to after the ball drops and 2023 begins. (We’re even waiting until January to see the new Avatar!)

But before then, how about ringing out 2022 and bringing in 2023 with movies set on New Year’s Eve, the special night that straddles both years and inspires thoughts of the past annum and hope for the one that’s just beginning?

Here are ten of them for you, ranging from black-and-white classics to blood-red horror entries--and everything in between!

After the Thin Man (1936)

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke

The second entry in the beloved film series based on Dashiell Hammett's 1934 mystery novel finds well-oiled Nick and Nora (William Powell and Myrna Loy) attending Nora’s high society aunt and cousin’s New Year’s Eve party. But in between sipping cocktails at a fancy nightclub, bantering delightfully, and donning party hats to ring in the New Year, they must to solve the mysterious murder of cousin Selma’s no-goodnik husband Robert. Like all six films in the original franchise, this one is a delight.

The Apartment (1960)

Directed by Billy Wilder

Wilder’s seminal romantic comedy-drama stars Jack Lemmon as a corporate climber who lends out his New York City apartment to senior co-workers to conduct their extramarital affairs. And wouldn’t you know that he falls for his office building’s elevator operator unaware that she’s having an affair with his boss (Fred MacMurray). Love, lust and professional standing all come to a head at—you guessed it—a climactic New Year’s Eve soirée!

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Directed by Roman Polanski

The New Year’s Eve party at the end of Rosemary’s Baby finds NYC mommy Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) meeting her newborn baby, who apparently has been sired by the Devil himself. “He has his father’s eyes,” declares witch coven leader Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmoor), then roaring, “God is dead! Satan lives! The year is One!” Those Upper West Side luxury residences will get you every time…

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Directed by Ronald Neame

For a group of passengers on the SS Poseidon, an aging luxury liner on her final voyage from New York City to Athens, a gala New Year’s Eve party turns into a fight for survival when the ship is overturned by a rogue tsunami. The stakes are high, as is the scenery-chewing drama delivered by the survivors, who include Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy MacDowell and an Oscar-winning Shelley Winters as a Jewish nana with a killer breast stroke.

Terror Train (1980)

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode

In his directorial debut, Hollywood mainstay Spottiswoode (Under Fire, Air American, Tomorrow Never Dies) helms former scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and a group of students who are holding a New Year’s Eve costume party aboard a train. But wouldn’t you know that some of them don’t even make it to midnight as a costumed killer is making rounds on the choo-choo? All in, it’s an above-average slasher flick.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Directed by Rob Reiner

Lots of Hollywood movies have a climactic scene set at a New Year’s Eve party—we could do an entire piece on just them! —but we’re got to keep our heads in the game with only a few this time around. Of course, we have to include the Eighties rom-com favorite, featuring Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and the ringing in of a New Year that also serves as the declaration of their love for each other. “I’ll have what she’s having…”

Four Rooms (1995) Directed by Alison Andres, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino

Critically drubbed upon its release, time has been good to this quartet of darkly comic short films loosely based on the short stories of Roald Dahl. It’s New Year’s Eve in Hollywood’s once-glamorous Hotel Mon Signor and the first night on the job for the joint’s new bellhop, Ted (Tim Roth).

Each film is set in a different room and written and directed by a different filmmaker, all designed for maximum nuttiness and opportunities to leave Ted wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Tarantino’s contribution, “The Man from Hollywood,” set in the hotel’s penthouse, is the best of the bunch, but the film’s star power is its biggest selling point. The lively cast includes Antonio Banderas, Madonna, Marisa Tomei, David Proval, Jennifer Beals, Valeria Golino and Bruce Willis.

Strange Days (1995)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Set during the last two days of 1999, a Los Angeles dealer in illegal virtual reality recordings stumbles onto the truth behind the murder of a prostitute, leading to a dangerous uprising on the city’s streets and in its highrises at the turn-of-the-millennium New Year’s Eve celebration.

Inspired in part by the 1992 L.A. riots that followed the Rodney King verdict, future Oscar-winner Bigelow’s trippy, polarizing cyber-thriller was a major box office bomb but has since become a cult favorite, probably more for its visual dazzle and technological prowess then its exploration of racism, abuse of power and voyeurism.

Boogie Nights (1997)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

In the history of adults-only cinema, the San Fernando Valley’s Golden Age of Porn in the Seventies gave way to the damaging excesses of the industry in the Eighties. In P.T. Anderson’s chronicle of the era, he offers a prescient end-of-the-Seventies New Year’s Eve celebration filled with sex, drugs, murder, suicide, and the rise of videotape. It’s an evening that foresees it all.

New Year’s Day (1989)

Directed by Henry Jaglom

A recently divorced, middle-aged Hollywood director returns to his New York City sublet apartment on a snowy New Year’s morning where he discovers three offbeat young women who mistakenly believe that they have the place until the end of New Year’s Day.

We’re sort of cheating by including this offbeat comedy-drama, as it takes place on the day following the big night, but as we haven’t made any resolutions about fudging out lists a bit, we’re asking you to forgive us. And have a Happy New Year!


Laurence Lerman is a film journalist, former editor of Video Business--Variety's DVD trade publication--and husband to The Insider's own Gwen Cooper. Over the course of his career he has conducted one-on-one interviews with just about every major director working today, including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Kathryn Bigelow, Ridley Scott, Walter Hill, Spike Lee, and Werner Herzog, among numerous others. Once James Cameron specifically requested an interview with Laurence by name, which his wife still likes to brag about. Most recently, he is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the online review site



bottom of page