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Christmas at the Cinema

You've successfully purchased all the presents you need, there's nothing but repeats on television and you want to escape your distant relatives for a few hours. It's great, then, that there are a host of films on at the cinema to offer a breather from all the festive fun taking place.

The big epic

Landing with an almighty bang, the Star Wars franchise ties up its third trilogy with The Rise of Skywalker. The sci-fi epic sees The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams return to the chair to round up the saga of Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren. Expect colossal space battles, adorable (or irritating) droids and one or two lightsaber duels.

The new entry sees the likes of Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega return to roles now familiar to them, whilst Billy Dee Williams returns as Lando Calrissian, for the first time since Return of the Jedi, and recent Oscar nominee Richard. E. Grant gets involved in the fun. What more could franchise fans ask for this Christmas?

The musical alternative

Bravely opening opposite Star Wars is Cats, a new take on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musical. Director Tom Hooper has precedence here, having previously turned his hand to Les Misérables , so if anyone can pull off a film of Cats it’s him.

If you’ve seen the trailers, they will have no doubt caught your eye with their… distinctive quality. Cats certainly has a diverse cast, with everyone from Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo to Ian McKellen and Judi Dench making appearances. So if you’re curious as to what a feline version of Idris Elba or Ray Winstone would look like then this may well be the festive pick for you.

The award contenders

A pair of star-packed, much-hyped films open over the Christmas break and offer some respite from the blockbuster razzle-dazzle. Greta Gerwig follows up one critically acclaimed drama (Lady Bird) with another. This time she adapts Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and packs her cast with a host of indie darlings, including Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet and Florence Pugh.

Jojo Rabbit, on the other hand, promises to be a fascinating and very different film. A controversial satire that chronicles a boy's life in Nazi-era Germany (Hitler – played by the film’s director Taika Waititi - is his imaginary friend), it nevertheless won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival (previous winners have included Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave and The King’s Speech) and is sure to be a key contender at next year’s Oscars ceremony.

The funny one

When it opened two years ago, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle proved an unexpected delight. An update to popular 90s family film Jumanji, it married an enjoyable, pulpy narrative with the delight that is Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s chemistry. And now bringing the gang back together is Jumanji: The Next Level.

Promising more body-swap comedy and silly action beats, the new instalment adds the likes of Awkwafina, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover to the mix, promising the kind of dumb fun which is the perfect break from all the festivities.

The Christmas classic

For those who want one last fix of seasonal merriment the Phoenix Picturehouse is screening It’s A Wonderful Life the weekend before the big day. For many, the James Stewart-starring fantasy is their favourite Xmas watch. The film, directed by Frank Capra, is also at the Abbey Cinema in Abingdon, alongside The Muppet Christmas Carol, which may very well be the best Dickens adaptation out there.

For all the latest cinema listings check out our what's on listings.

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