Some spend New Year’s going to a nice restaurant then quietly welcoming midnight. Some even go to bed well before the year changes over. But we’re going to assume quite a lot of you will be obeying tradition and getting far, far too drunk than you should. There are plenty of fine (and sometimes deeply despairing) films about getting drunk. Here’s a few where the drinks are real:
We can’t 100 percent verify that those are real drinks in the hands of John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara, but c’mon: not even John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara are that good. Cassavetes’ first Hollywood picture is just like his indies (but in color): an improv-heavy study of people at the outer edges of human emotions. That is to say that they’re jerks: three middle-age guys who can’t believe they’re middle-aged who are suddenly worried about mortality after the death of the fourth member of their super-macho clique. The first stop after the funeral is a bar, where they proceed to a round-table singing contest with strangers, who they wind up obnoxiously bullying. Then they retire to the grimy bathroom to vomit for five minutes. If that was really ginger ale in their glasses then hats off.
‘Wild Things’ (1998)
There’s a long tradition of people knocking back a few shots before a sex scene. Darren Aronofsky claimed Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis shared a bottle of tequila before getting it on in “Black Swan,” and the same goes to Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell and Denise Richards, the stars of this twisty-turny camp-noir’s noted menage-a-trois.
Russia’s current Foreign Language Oscar entry is a despairing tragedy about a hothead coming undone by forces both outside and within his control. But it’s also often a great drinking movie, with characters sitting around and getting vodka drunk. According to director Andrey Zvyagintsev, that’s real vodka; if the actors got too soused to nail a scene, they had to wait for another day to reshoot.
‘Bad Santa’ (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton has said he was actually intoxicated while playing a permanently 5,000-sheets-to-the-wind department store Kris Kringle. Let’s just assume he was “only” five beers and maybe a couple shots in. Otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten anything done.
‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979)
That thrilling, justly famous opening to Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam study — the one where Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard self-destructs in a Saigon hotel room? It’s basically real, as anyone who’s seen the making-of doc “Hearts of Darkness” can verify. In fact, Sheen wound up having a heart attack while on location, albeit mostly because he was on location making “Apocalypse Now.”
‘Super Mario Bros.’ (1993)
How do great actors make it through objectively terrible movies? With some sauce. John Leguizamo admitted in his 2006 memoir that, realizing they were starring in a barely comprehensible dog, the cast, including Bob Hoskins, eased their anxieties through liquor. Whether they were ever tanked on screen is another matter.
‘Holiday Inn’ (1942)
The film that wrought “White Christmas,” and with the same star (Bing Crosby), also has this going for it: According to his daughter Ava, Fred Astaire’s drunk dancing scene was for real. He knocked back two shots of bourbon before filming, plus an additional shot for each take. They did seven takes. The last one was the one that made the cut.