New Year’s Movies Sure to Get The Year Started Off Right

Spread the love

Reel reviews: Countdown Cinema
By Donovan Darling staff writer

“When Harry Met Sally” (1989)

I saw this for the first time this year, and to be honest…it’s fantastic! A saccharine yet goofy rom-com, this stars Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Bruno Kirby and (amazingly) Carrie Fisher. When Harry and Sally meet at a New Year’s Eve party, they share a midnight kiss, starting their years-long “will they or won’t they?” saga. They’re both difficult in their own way, neurotic, unreasonable and just generally make the wrong decisions — as their best friends Jess and Marie, who end up together, are quick to admit to each other. A time machine into ’80s New York, this a must-watch for New Year’s and rom-com fans. Rated R for mature content, like that one very famous restaurant scene.

“Igby Goes Down” (2002)

This is not a New Year’s movie, nor does it have a New Year’s scene. But it’s one of my favorite dark dramedies that’s so deeply philosophical and chaotic you can’t help but examine your own life after watching it. The insanely star-studded cast includes Kierin Culkin, Jeff Goldlbum, Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman, Ryan Phillippe, Clair Danes, Amanda Peet, Rory Culkin, Jared Harris and more. The story, loosely based on J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” follows young Igby Slocumb (Kierin Culkin), a rich and snarky wunderkind who keeps flunking out of boarding schools. Eventually he’s sent to a military academy, which proves to be his breaking point. Meanwhile his godfather grooms him to become a socialite, his father suffers a nervous breakdown, his mother is dying and he’s trying to make sense of it all. As hysterical as it is heartbreaking, a must-watch for the existentially-minded. Rated R for really mature content.

“Happy New Year Charlie Brown” (1986)

One year older than me, you can’t really beat the innocence and simple comedy of Charlie Brown in this New Year’s movie. In this oldie-but-goodie, Charlie faces yet another anxiety-inducing decision — stay in for a quiet evening, or go to a party for New Year’s Eve? I’m of the age and opinion that a quiet evening is the way to go, and so does Charlie Brown, unsurprisingly. However, that’s not how ol’ Chuck operates. Out of a sense of social duty and peer pressure, he obligatorily goes against his better judgment to accommodate and make others happy, much to his anxiety and frustration. Thankfully these sitcom-esque scenarios are good fun and rarely have lasting negative effects on Charlie, as he’s happy to be with his friends in the end. And this one is no exception. Rated G.

The History of New Year’s Celebrations

The earliest known record of a New Year festival dates from about 2000 bce in Mesopotamia, where in Babylonia the new year (Akitu) began with the new moon after the spring equinox (mid-March) and in Assyria with the new moon nearest the autumn equinox (mid-September).
In early medieval times most of Christian Europe regarded March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year, although New Year’s Day was observed on December 25 in Anglo-Saxon England. William the Conqueror decreed that the year begin on January 1, but England later joined the rest of Christendom and adopted March 25. The Gregorian calendar, adopted in 1582 by the Roman Catholic Church, restored January 1 as New Year’s Day, and most European countries gradually followed suit: Scotland, in 1660; Germany and Denmark, about 1700; England, in 1752; and Russia, in 1918.