What to Watch on New Year’s Eve: The Ball Drop and ‘Death to 2020’


If you’re spending New Year’s Eve at home in front of your screen, you can say goodbye to 2020, say hello to 2021 or try to forget what year it is entirely. No matter which camp you’re in, there are plenty of streaming options. Here, we have TV specials celebrating the end of the year, recommendations that can take you far away and, of course, a few ways to watch the ball drop.

There’s no shortage of stars lining up to bid farewell (or worse) to 2020. In Facebook Watch’s “Peace Out 2020” special, an array of boldfaced names—

Arnold Schwarzenegger,

Anne Hathaway

and more—turn out for a send-off.

Netflix’s “Death to 2020” is a mockumentary-style look back at the year that—you may be surprised to remember—goes back all the way to a presidential impeachment trial, “Parasite” winning the best-picture Oscar, and

Joe Biden’s

battle with

Bernie Sanders.

On Amazon Prime Video, actors and comedians show up for a comedy special “Yearly Departed’’ to chat about all that was lost (for better and worse) in 2020. Tiffany Haddish mourns the loss of casual sex,

Natasha Rothwell

sends up TV cops,

Rachel Brosnahan

bids farewell to pants, and

Patti Harrison

says a few words about the downfall of “rich girl Instagram influencers.”

“This is a shocking loss,” she says, “for their family, fans, followers and their branded partnerships with Smartwater.”

The Classic: Watch the Ball Drop in Times Square
(Various)

The public’s not allowed in Times Square to watch the ball drop this year. But, then again, it wouldn’t really be appropriate to experience an annual tradition in 2020 away from a screen, would it?

Among the options for watching the ball drop from home: You can stream the festivities—including

Gloria Gaynor

singing “I Will Survive”—at timessquarenyc.org, you can experience it on ABC via “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With

Ryan Seacrest

2021’’ or you can turn to NBC and watch

Carson Daly

close out the year in “NBC’s New Year’s Eve 2021.”

New Release: ‘The Beatles: Get Back—A Sneak Peek’
(YouTube)

Though we don’t yet know what’s going to happen after the ball drops, big promises have been made. You can get an early look at one, courtesy of director

Peter Jackson.

The director of “The Lord of the Rings” released about five minutes of footage that he’s been sifting through for his documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back,” expected in 2021. The sneak peek is a euphoric look at a group of guys named Ringo, George, Paul and John—as well as friends (

Billy Preston

) and lovers (Yoko Ono)—singing, dancing, smiling, and generally carrying on.

“Maybe,” Mr. Jackson says, introducing the footage, “it’ll put a smile on your face in these rather bleak times that we’re in at the moment.”

An Expert Recommends: ‘Bridgerton’
(Netflix)

Bess Kalb

is the head writer and an executive producer of Prime Video’s year-end comedy special, “Yearly Departed.” Here, she recommends one of her favorite new shows. Edited from an interview.

“I read a lot of 19th-century English literature in high school, but now I watch a lot of ‘The Real Housewives of New York City.’ So, I’m loving ‘Bridgerton,’ which has the drama and messiness of ‘Real Housewives,’ plus the empire waist dresses of

Keira Knightley’s

‘Pride and Prejudice,’ which is one of the few movies that I own on my computer in case of blackout or emergency.

The show takes place in an alternate reality in horse-and-carriage-era England and someone is writing some sort of anonymous rag about the people in high society. Daphne Bridgerton is a rich girl looking for a husband in London’s marriage market and devises a scheme with a very desirable Duke to feign interest in her so that she can get some actual suitors to try to win her hand. When I say that out loud, it does not sound like the most exciting show, but really what it is is the sexual politics of 20-somethings trying to make other people jealous, stab other people in the back and then find true love. It feels like it was invented especially for my deepest fantasy.”

A Reader Recommends: ‘Black Orpheus’
(Kanopy, HBO Max)

Eduardo Rios is a reader in Chicago. Here, he recommends the film that won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 1960. Edited from an interview.

“I lived in Uruguay for the first 35 years of my life. I learned the terms ‘auteur movie’ and ‘art-house movie’ when I came to this country. In Uruguay, we had good, bad and in-between. We were treated to first-run movies from directors like Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard and Luchino Visconti, and never thought we were in an ‘art house.’ I saw ‘Black Orpheus’ in the theater in my town when it came out. It’s a wonderful thing to see. A retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus, where Orféu is a trolley driver in Rio de Janeiro and Eurydice, a girl of the ‘favelas’ preparing for Carnival. It’s basically a French film, directed by the French director Marcel Camus, made in Brazil with Brazilian actors and Brazilian music—including ‘A Felicidade’ by

Antonio Carlos Jobim

and Vinicius de Moraes. The movie is full of the joy of modest, beautiful, working people, getting ready for Carnival, looking forward to a time when, as the song goes, happiness comes briefly ‘and all ends on Wednesday.’ It is an extraordinary movie for the atmosphere: the music in the favela, up in the hills, the fantastic view that they have of Rio de Janeiro and the spirit of Carnival that defines it. In all, a formidable achievement.”

The New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square will be missing a key piece this year: the crowd. But for New York and other cities around the world, the show will go on. WSJ’s Jason Bellini explains how cities plan to say goodbye to 2020 amid a pandemic. Photo: Ben Hider/Invision/AP, File

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