Today’s the last day to party balls before getting wrapped up in all this Lent hogwash, so make it count. Might I suggest some sort of party, as they enjoy so much in New Orleans?

Taking inventory of parties in film is pretty much a step-by-step guide on how to throw a good party, but planning isn’t enough. The greatest parties in film and in our lives thrive on an intangible spontaneity that not even Martha Stewart could curate. Catching that lightning in a bottle, be it an impromptu beer bust, a sociopathic athlete, or a girl dying of a cocaine overdose, is the key to taking a party from good to great. I could prattle on about this, but the examples serve to do most of the heavy lifting here.

The House Party in Any Given Sunday

I’m guessing that Oliver Stone drew from the Dallas Cowboys parties of lore when he conceived this scene that is decadent enough to make Charlie Sheen blush. This party has tons of whorish women, athletes in silk shirts talking on cell phones, and, of course, sharks.

This scene is only later trumped by the one in which Lawrence Taylor’s character cuts Steamin’ Willie Beamen’s yellow Tahoe in half with a buzzsaw. Hmmm. Sharks or cars being cut in half? That’s a choice truly worthy of Solomon.

House Party 2’s Pajama Jammy Jam

Not every party on this list has to be depraved. Sometimes, you just want to kick back with some friends in your PJ’s, hang out with some non-threatening black dudes, and innocently pursue chaste women. It’s pretty much like a seventh-grade mixer. No. It’s exactly like a seventh-grade mixer, only with more high-top fades than I remember.

This party trades in safety. You’re not going to OD or get stabbed at this party. You might lose a dance-off, but rest assured that the winner will graciously give you a friendly eleven-step handshake and a hug when it’s all over. Having Martin Lawrence in attendance is a wild card nowadays, but back then the only way he would cause any trouble is if you kept bumping his DJ table.

If you’re worried about whether or not these guys gonna hurt nobody, let me save you some time – they ain’t gonna hurt nobody.

The Boogie Nights Pool Party

Paul Thomas Anderson did a wonderful job of making the audience feel like they were actually doing a lap at this party through his use of an absurdly long tracking shot that probably gave his steadicam operator a hernia. If ever there was a playbook for the perfect pool party, this scene is it. What really differentiates this party isn’t the drugs or the hot girls, but the batshit-crazy people. There’s a black cowboy talking about his stereo store one minute, then a functioning idiot (Reed Rothchild) making terrible margaritas in a tiki bar.

Even the overdose is fun. My one complaint is that there isn’t enough Scotty.

(Sadly the clip isn’t embeddable, but here’s the link to the best pool party of all time)

The Kegger Out By The Moon Tower

Wooderson, booze, pot, and freshmen hazing – this Dazed and Confused party didn't leave its attendees wanting for much. I have to qualify this entry by saying the party would have been much more fun if the character played by Adam Goldberg hadn’t been in attendance. He whined the whole time, then got his ass pummeled by Clint, reducing him to a sack of tears and rage. That’s a strike against, but beyond that, this party had some of the hottest girls of any party that’s been put to film.

Milla Jovavich looks intoxicated enough that she’s ready to make some bad decisions, and I’ll be there to save her from making a bad decision by urging her to make an even worse decision. Like investing in Netflix or texting while driving.

Animal House Toga Party

No explanation necessary. Just let it wash over you.

The Elizabethtown Wake

Commemorating a loved one’s death is normally not something people would consider a “good time,” but when you add sexual tension, a flaming bird, Lynard Skynard, and My Morning Jacket, things suddenly don’t seem quite so bad. And Kirsten Dunst is there, so you know she’ll probably get drunk and do something slutty. Plus, any party that involves proper rich folk dropping their monocles when the whole thing goes haywire is bound to at least be a beautiful disaster.

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