12 Movies to Watch on New Year's Eve Instead of the Ball Drop

These are the perfect New Year's Eve movies to help you stay awake 'til the stroke of midnight.

Published December 15, 2023
couple watching a movie

Not everyone wants the runny nose and frosty fingers experience of watching the NYE ball drop in real-time. But a festive drink can only keep you up for so long. Need help making it to midnight? Pop on one of these delightful movies to watch on New Year's Eve.

12 New Year’s Eve Movies to Celebrate Every Month of the Year

Halloween isn’t the only holiday with a slew of movies to its name. From romcom classics to Old Hollywood favorites, these are some of the best movies to ring in the new year with.

An American in Paris (1951)

An American in Paris movie poster

If you want to elevate your New Year’s Eve movie lineup, then the 1951 Academy Awards darling, An American in Paris, is a must-watch. Get swept away by mid-century Paris in this classic MGM musical. Nothing gives us NYE party envy like its black and white Art Student’s Ball.

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

George Clooney, who? Take it back to the original Ocean’s 11 when every piece of furniture you owned was doused in cigarette smoke and ties were as skinny as railway lines. Instead of the schmaltzy feel-good films on some people’s NYE’s lineups, you might want to follow the Rat Pack’s fraught NYE heist as they tear up the Vegas Strip in its mob-run heyday.

The Apartment (1960)

Many people will try to convince you to watch Sunset Boulevard on New Year’s, but we want to throw a different classic film into the ring. The Apartment, written and directed by Sunset Boulevard’s own Billy Wilder, explores themes that are just as gritty and complex as Sunset Boulevard and culminates in a New Year’s Eve evening full of highs and lows.

If your New Year’s resolution is to dip your toes into classic cinema, this is a great place to start.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby

If you’re a horror fan, then you know there’s a horror movie for every holiday. From Christmas slashers like Black Christmas to New Year’s Eve’s Rosemary’s Baby, there’s something for every day of the year to get your heart rate up and head on a swivel. At the very least, Rosemary’s Baby reminds us that we never really know what our neighbors get up to.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Nothing will make you appreciate the new lease on life you’ve got with the year coming up than watching a disaster movie like The Poseidon AdventureNo matter how dull your New Year’s plans are, you’re having a better New Year than the passengers and crew in this classic 70s film. But be careful. Side effects of watching this one include an increased fear of drowning and swearing off cruise ships for the rest of your life.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Want to be in on the secret behind the white Aran sweater that’s taken TikTok by storm? Queue up the ultimate New Year’s romcom When Harry Met Sally. This late 80s classic serves up the most unexpected romantic pairing in Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, and the push of their will they/won’t they chemistry makes us return to it every year.

When you’ve got a line like “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible” to aspire to, no sloppy New Year’s kiss will do.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump is chock-full of iconic moments that make it perfect for every season of the year. But we eat up every second of the New Year’s scene in particular. That juxtaposition of Lieutenant Dan’s thousand-yard stare and confetti-coated hair with the New Year’s revelers is just *chef’s kiss*.

Need to Know

Put Forrest Gump on at exactly 10:38:57 pm on New Year’s Eve, and you can ring in midnight with Lieutenant Dan.

High School Musical (2004)

Heading into a new year can feel like the start of something new. What better way to celebrate the limitless potential of 12 new months than looking back at the hope filled years of teenagedom? Embrace Y2K with one of the most iconic Disney Channel Original Movies — High School Musical. Sing along with Troy and Gabriella at their Grease-style karaoke meet-cute on New Year’s Eve and watch the Disney channel legend unfold.

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Rent (2005)

The New Year is one of those rare holidays that we celebrate for the fun of celebrating something, and so why shouldn’t another musical top our list? Rent is a legendary Broadway show based loosely on the classic opera La Bohème, that follows one year in the life of a diverse cast of characters. And if you can't get enough of the film version, we love to belt out all the chaos that the new year brings in the cut song from the show, “Happy New Year.”

New Year’s Eve (2011)

If you want to chew on every second that’s left of New Year’s Eve, stew in that festive energy with the star-studded cast of New Year’s Eve. Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, the list goes on and on. If you love spending your New Year’s Eve elbow-to-elbow waiting for the ball to drop, then you’ll love the chaos of a multi-storyline film like this just as much. 

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Notably one of Billie Eilish’s favorite films, Fruitvale Station catapulted Michael B. Jordan’s career. This film tells the real-life story of Oscar Grant III who was murdered by a police officer on New Year’s Day in 2009. It paints a harrowing portrait of police violence and the Black experience in America. It’s a difficult but galvanizing reminder that despite all our efforts, the work never ends, and there’s always more we can do in the next year ahead.

Carol (2015)

Why not start the year with your heart stomped all over by Todd Haynes’s adaptation of The Price of Salt. What culminates in Carol is a complex portrait of queer identity in mid-century America. And despite the social and personal obstacles that keep the two lovers apart, the film ends on a rare positive note. And for all you LGBTQ+ folk fearing the worst, you can rest easy. The “bury your gays” trope is nowhere to be found in this one. 

As for why it’s a great New Year’s Eve pick. Who doesn’t want to turn that New Year’s Eve kiss into something more with a new love, Carol and Therese style?

When the Clock Strikes Cinema

If you’re staying at home on New Year’s Eve, then you’re probably glued to the TV, waiting for the infamous ball to drop. Switch things up and usher in January 1st with some new fictional friends. Who knows? You might just stumble on a fresh New Year’s tradition to bring back every year.

12 Movies to Watch on New Year's Eve Instead of the Ball Drop