Six Scenes Set On New Year's Eve In Los Angeles
Los Angeles may not be as iconic on New Year's Eve as Times Square, but there are still a handful of New Year's scenes set in Southern California. We didn't say they were all happy, but here are a few of our favorites.
New Year's Evil (1980)
This so-bad-it's-good horror film stars Roz Kelly of Happy Days fame as Diane Sullivan, a Los Angeles punk/new wave DJ who, in the midst of her own New Year's Eve party at a Hollywood hotel, is interrupted by a mysterious caller. He informs her and her "Hollywood Hotline" listeners that as midnight hits in each time zone, he will kill one more person. Specifically, he is targeting "naughty" girls. He promises Diane that she will be his final victim. So, in classic horror genre fashion, it's a lot of a masked killer chasing women around. But it's also full of L.A. punks and goths who look like they just escaped a Billy Idol music video. Robert Ebert described the slasher as "an endangered species: a plain, old-fashioned, gory thriller. It is not very good. It is sometimes unpleasant bloody."
The best part about the film is that it has its very own theme song that plays numerous times throughout, performed by the band Shadow. It's pretty catchy.
Boogie Nights (1997)
In Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, we watch Eddie Adams' (Mark Wahlberg) transition into porn star Dirk Diggler, and as such, much of the film takes place in the San Fernando Valley. In one intense and graphic scene, an assistant director, portrayed by William H. Macy, attends a New Year's Eve party at the home of adult film director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). We follow him as he searches the party for his wife. When he finds her in a compromising position, he calmly exacts a brutal revenge. The home that served as Horner's is located in Covina, and, at least through 2010, still contained many of the 70s design elements.
Strange Days (1995)
Director Kathryn Bigelow may be best known for The Hurt Locker (for which she received an Oscar), Zero Dark Thirty, and the iconic Point Break that featured a double billing of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. But it’s 1995’s Strange Days that is her most visionary work.
Set in L.A. during the final days of 1999, the film centers around Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) who’s a drug dealer peddling some very unique goods. The “drugs” are actually compact-discs (remember those?) from which the user can experience the memories of others. Naturally, Nero discovers a CD that depicts a mysterious death, and naturally, he’s ushered into a mission to get down to the bottom of it.
There’s a lot to say about Strange Days (the beginning sequence is superb, and there are some cursory discussions on race relations). But what really comes to the forefront is the end-of-days feeling that pervades L.A. It’s not exactly a feel-good film. But it toys with some intriguing ideas, and there's an uplifting New Year’s scene at the end where (spoiler alert!) Nero gets over his former flame and realizes his love for a limousine driver played by Angela Bassett. It’s also worth noting that James Cameron (who was previously married to Bigelow) had written the screenplay.—Timothy Loc
In every thriller where a character must dismantle a bomb, they always do it in the final seconds before destruction. Drama in romance is often no different. In a 2003 episode of The OC, Ryan (Ben McKenzie) races against the New Year's countdown and makes it to the party just in time to kiss Mischa Barton's Marissa as Finley Quaye's "Dice" plays. This is apparently important because Marissa previously told Ryan that she loved him, but he did not say it back. As a result, a despondent Marissa almost ends up sharing a New Year's kiss with Oliver.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
William Holden plays Joe Gillis, a struggling screenwriter who, by chance, meets Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a silent film star who has faded into obscurity. Joe becomes immersed in Norma's bizarre and sad life, temporarily (or so he thinks) living in her mansion as he revamps a script she's written. As the New Year approaches, Norma invites Joe to her New Year's Eve party. But when Joe shows up, he realizes he is the sole guest.
Get Crazy (1983)
In this '80s musical comedy, the vintage Saturn Theater is throwing a massive concert to celebrate the arrival of 1983. Of course, some greedy developer types are simultaneously trying to trick its long-time owner into selling out, as often happens in these types of films. The film features several musical performances, including Lou Reed as Auden, a 70s folk singer; Malcolm McDowell as an aging rock star (based on Mick Jagger); Bill Henderson as blues musician King Blues; and Lori Eastside as the lead of a 15-member girl group (based on The Bangles). While the Saturn Theater may be fictitious, the film was shot at one of L.A.'s best vintage theaters: The Wiltern in Koreatown.