I’ve never been a big fan of the hoopla that surrounds New Year’s Eve. I’ve certainly been to big, loud parties where everyone gets all excited about the countdown to midnight, but what I prefer is a more quiet holiday, perhaps with some good friends, good food, and a good movie. Peter and I were talking over dinner last night, brainstorming what would be the ultimate movie to watch over the New Year’s holiday. Lots of ideas flew across the dining room table, and we debated about the attributes that make the perfect New Year’s movie. For me, it has to be a “big”, lush film with great characters, and a certain sparkle or “edge” to it.
So if you’re looking for suggestions, here are my top five movies to help you usher in 2011:
Living Out Loud
So many great scenes and terrific character development put this 1998 film at the top of my list. Holly Hunter plays Judith Nelson, a recent divorcee in Manhattan who’s looking for meaning in her life. Along the way, she meets Pat (played by Danny Devito), her high-rise building’s elevator operator who’s down on his luck, and Liz Bailey (played by Queen Latifah), a singer at a local jazz club. The writing is brilliant, the soundtrack is fabulous, and although I’ve probably seen this movie a dozen times, this film never gets old for me. There’s a scene at a restaurant that always makes me cry, and a steamy scene where Judith steps way out of her comfort zone and hires a massage therapist (played by LeAnn Rimes’s new fiancé, Eddie Cibrian) for an in-home session. You can watch my favorite scene below. Judith is ready for some adventure, so after popping some Ecstasy, she has a run-in with Pat and then heads out to a club in New York’s Meatpacking District with Liz.
I find that people either love or hate this movie. I was bowled over the first time I saw this 2001 adventure, directed by Baz Luhrmann, who is a true visionary. It’s a giant, bright, loud movie set at the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris. Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor (they’re both great singers!), the movie is filled with balls-to-the-wall production numbers, over-the-top sets, some wonderful screwball comedy, and a wonderfully touching love story. Watch this scene to see a great take on Elton John’s “Your Song” – gives me chills to see this again!
The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
Starring a very young Catherine Deneuve, this 1964 film is all in French and is all in song. But don’t let that scare you away. The movie is colorful and beautifully romantic, telling the story of 17-year-old Genevieve, who wants to marry her handsome auto mechanic boyfriend, played by Nino Castelnuovo. Afraid that her daughter is too young to get married, Genevieve’s mother (who owns the umbrella shop in the coastal town of Cherbourg) puts a stop to the relationship. Go watch this terrific film, and just see if your heart doesn’t break. Here’s one of my favorite scenes, featuring the love theme, “I Will Wait for You”.
All About Eve
I’m sure everybody has already seen this classic Bette Davis vehicle, but this 1950 film still holds up. Aging Broadway actress Margo Channing is threatened when a seemingly innocent younger actress starts edging into her life and career. Featuring one of the all-time great movie lines (Margo downs her martini and with a flip of her hair, warns her cocktail party guests: “Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy night!”), this film earned a “Best Picture” Oscar. Watch Bette Davis utter the famous line here, and see one of the earliest movie appearances by Marilyn Monroe.
The English Patient
When this movie came out in 1996, I saw it in the theater three times! Starring Ralph Fiennes and stunning actresses Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas, this film defines the word “lush”. Told through a series of flashbacks, the movie features wonderful landscapes in North Africa and Italy and a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. Here’s the official trailer for the film. "I promise, I'll come back for you. I promise, I'll never leave you." Sigh…
If New Year’s Eve finds you in the mood to laugh, then you need to check out “Waiting for Guffman”, a fake documentary about the townspeople of Blaine, Missouri (“The Stool Capital of the World”) as they prepare for a stage production in honor of their town’s 150th anniversary. Written, directed by, and starring Christopher Guest (married in real-life to Jamie Lee Curtis), this movie is outright silly and, at least to me, fall-down funny. Like other “mocumentaries” created by Christopher Guest (“Spinal Tap”, “Best In Show”, and “A Mighty Wind”), much of the dialog is improvised. Here’s a wonderful clip of the community auditions for the stage show. It still makes me laugh out loud!
So what do you think? Have you seen these films? Do you have others the would make a better pick for New Years?