Throughout 2019, I’ll be writing articles about holidays and the best movies for them. And I’m starting, before the year begins, with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
If you want to start the year with a tragedy that may make you want to fight for justice, I doubt you can find anything better than Fruitvale Station. Ryan Coogler’s first feature follows Oscar Grant in his last day before he was shot down by BART police in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009.
If you’re looking for something happier to ring in ’19, I vaguely remember enjoying a very silly rock’n’roll stoner comedy from 1983 called Get Crazy. Allan Arkush’s follow-up for Rock and Roll High School takes place at a massive New Year’s Eve concert in a venue clearly based on the Filmore East. I fondly remember Malcolm McDowell’s hilarious imitation of Mick Jagger.
Unfortunately, Get Crazy was never released on any home video format except VHS. The film is only 35 years old and the negative is already lost. You can stream the movie on YouTube, but it doesn’t look very good. It’s also in the wrong aspect ratio. No, the video doesn’t crop off the sides; it shows too much at the top and bottom, including occasional boom microphones.
Some great films have New Year’s Eve sequences, but they’re not really about the holiday. These include The Apartment, Boogie Nights, The Godfather Part II, and The Gold Rush.
New Year’s Eve is often about drinking too much, and New Year’s Day is a traditional time for promising yourself that you will do better. You can hit both of these themes with a film about an alcoholic getting control of his or her life. Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot is an excellent recent example. Another one would be Crazy Heart.
But when you come right down to it, New Year’s is about the passing of time. The Earth has completed another voyage around the sun, and we’re all a little bit older. You can’t find a better film about years going by than Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Shot off and on over the course of 12 years, it follows a young man from entering first grade to entering college.
How Boyhood Starts
How it ends
Have a Happy New Year!