Ah, New Year's Eve — a magical evening filled with champagne, kisses at the stroke of midnight and, of course, a fresh start to the year ahead. Too bad in real life it's so much more often filled with overpriced dinners, obnoxious drunks and broken resolutions. (Yes, we often do manage to break our resolutions before even crawling into bed.) In other words, New Year's Eve almost always blows … yet somehow in the movies it's so damn perfect.
In honor of Hollywood's optimistic vision for the year's most stressful night, here's a compilation of the nine greatest moments caught on celluloid as the clock strikes 12. It may not be as good as the real thing … because it's even better. Happy New Year, indeed.
1. 'Sleepless in Seattle' (1993)
This romantic comedy actually (gasp!) gets it right. After some ill-fated back-and-forth, Sam (Tom Hanks) and Annie (Meg Ryan) finally unite — in large part thanks to Sam's scheming son — atop the Empire State Building just before closing. So, the music's kind of a cheese-fest, and we're not sure how we feel about Ryan's braid, but these two so clearly belong together that we couldn't be happier that they've found one another. It's almost enough to give us hope for our own New Year's romance. Almost.
2. 'The Apartment' (1960)
Written and directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, "The Apartment" might have been ahead of its time, as C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) quits his job and hooks up with his (ex-) boss's girl (Shirley MacLaine). Sounds like a great New Year's Eve to us — though we're not sure about those repercussions once the morning of the first rolls around.
3. 'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)
After years of friendship, followed by a night of awkward sex, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) are in … let's just call it … a weird place. Until Harry has an epiphany, jogs across a freezing New York City (no cabs on New Year's!) and confesses his feelings for his ex-BFF. Featuring some of the most romantic and funniest dialogue that's ever graced the silver screen, "When Harry Met Sally" is truly one for the ages. Gentlemen, take note. This is how it's done.
4. '200 Cigarettes' (1999)
Technically speaking, Monica (Martha Plimpton) has a New Year's Eve that's not so great, since she decides no one is coming to her party and boozes it up until she blacks out. However, when she awakens, she finds Polaroids proving she was wrong. Lots of peeps came to her soiree. How great is that? Plus, like, a lot of the Affleck boys are in this one, which pretty much guarantees it needs a spot on this list.
5. 'Radio Days' (1987)
Even Woody Allen can't resist waxing poetic on New Year's Eve. Narrating from high above a Times Square rooftop, Allen gives a touching speech about his childhood. "I never forgot that New Year's Eve when Aunt Bea awakened me to watch 1944 come in. And I've never forgotten any of those people or any of the voices we used to hear on the radio. Although the truth is, with the passing of each New Year's Eve, those voices do seem to grow dimmer and dimmer." If we could be half as insightful on our own New Year's Eve, we'd be … way more insightful than we usually are.
6. 'Bridget Jones's Diary' (2001)
Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is ready to close the year with an impromptu trip to Paris with her pals when lo and behold who should show up but her would-be paramour, Mark (Colin Firth), who cancelled his trip to America to profess his love for the eccentric beauty. A potential session of necking in Bridget's apartment is foiled by Mark reading her diary, in which she describes him as "rude, unpleasant, dull" and as having a "giant gherkin thrust up his backside." "Double s**t," indeed! Luckily, Bridget chases after her man down snowy streets wearing little more than her underwear so he can finally "stick his f**king tongue down her f**king throat," as one of Bridget's friends so delicately put it. A very romantic — if a little chilly — way to end the year.
7. 'About a Boy' (2002)
Is there anything better than love at first sight? How about love at first sight with Hugh Grant? That's exactly what happens at the pivotal turning point in "About a Boy" when Will (Grant) meets Rachel (Rachel Weisz) at a New Year's Eve party. So, Will does sort of lie about having a son (though, as he points out, it was Rachel's own assumption), but false representation aside, it's a pretty awesome moment.
8. 'Entrapment' (1999)
Romance not your thing? No problem. How about celebrating New Year's Eve by pulling off the biggest bank heist in history ... with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery, no less? As the party reaches full swing below, Virginia (Zeta-Jones) and Robert (Connery) scale one of the tallest buildings we've ever seen, crossing with the help of some festive strands of lights. They're about to become rich beyond their wildest dreams. Which sounds pretty good to us.
9. 'An Affair to Remember' (1957)
Terry (Deborah Kerr) falls for Nickie (Cary Grant) and the two share a perfect kiss on New Year's Eve — even though they're both engaged to other people. (Sigh.) They decide to meet six months later at the top of the Empire State Building ... if they're both still interested, that is. Wondering what happens in the end? Uh, you saw "Sleepless in Seattle," right?