From The Phantom Carriage (1921), dir. Victor Sjöström (image courtesy Criterion Collection)

2020 is nearly over, thankfully. To celebrate the end of the old year and ring in the new, here are a few movies you can watch if you can’t find an appropriately socially distanced get-together where you can count down to midnight. Happy New Year!

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

One of the foundational films of Swedish cinema, this fantasy from writer/director Victor Sjöström was a pioneer in special effects, making use of double exposure to create multiple ethereal images. On New Year’s Eve, the Grim Reaper (a role filled by the last person to have died the previous year) tries to convince a friend he had in life to repent of his drunken ways. An eerie silent classic, its existential dread made it a blueprint for many a Swedish film to follow.

On Criterion Channel and other platforms.

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The Apartment (1960)

One of the best Hollywood romcoms ever, this Bill Wilder picture links two wayward souls over the course of the week between Christmas and the New Year. C. C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon) has been trying to get in good with his bosses by letting them use his apartment for trysts with their mistresses. When one of those mistresses, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), gets dumped and tries to overdose on sleeping pills, Bud scrambles to save her, and the two then grow closer as she recovers. A warm, human film that builds to one of the best closing lines of dialogue ever.

On various platforms.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

In this riff on Golden Age Hollywood screwball comedies, the Coen brothers concoct a supremely silly world within 1950s corporate intrigue. Naive wannabe executive Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) becomes looped into a scheme by the heads of a major corporation, who intend to let him lead them to failure so that they can scoop up some dirt-cheap stocks. Except his odd ideas instead threaten to bring them even greater success, with events coming to a head as the New Year approaches. Initially a flop, this has since become a deserved cult classic.

On various platforms.

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.