Happy New Year! As Andrew Lincoln puts his placards away and Will Ferrell folds up his elf costume for another 12 months, it’s time to enter the annual scrum of the awards season.

Yep, you won’t be able to swing a cat in the cinema for the next couple of months without being angrily shushed by audiences engrossed by a showboating A-lister in a prestigious drama.

We’ve got Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks teaming up for the first time, Frances McDormand taking on the police, and Gary Oldman stepping into Winston Churchill’s shoes.

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And if you need a break from all that heavy-duty thesping, never fear – charming and colourful animated adventures await, courtesy of Aardman Animations and Pixar.

It’s also a great start to the year for York cinema-goers with the opening of the new Everyman Cinema on December 30th! I’ll see you down the Spielburger…

Musical

The Greatest Showman

Cert PG, 105 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Dec 26

Movie website

Roll up, roll up for this all-singing, all-dancing biopic of legendary showman PT Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Hugh Jackman (a veteran Broadway board-treader before he clawed his way to fame as the X-Man’s X-Man) stars as Barnum, the wide-eyed dreamer who called his spectacular circus “The Greatest Show On Earth”.

An original musical with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriting team behind La La Land, this colourful, exuberant-looking film co-stars Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife Charity, as well as High School Musical hoofer Zac Efron and singer/actress Zendaya (fresh from her enjoyably spiky turn in last summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming).

It’s been described as “irresistibly feel-good”, which sounds like a recommendation or a challenge, depending on your outlook…

Drama

All The Money In The World

Cert 15, 132 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Jan 5

Movie website

This latest film from director Ridley Scott hit the headlines recently due to Scott’s 11th hour decision to re-cast a key supporting role originally played by Kevin Spacey, in response to the allegations against him.

With the film already in the can and its release imminent, Scott replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the role of billionaire J Paul Getty, and hastily re-shot all Spacey’s scenes at a cost of $10 million.

It’s testament to the hard work and talent of Scott and his cast and crew that the film’s release was delayed by only three days in the US as a result.

The film tells the true story of the kidnap of Getty’s grandson, John Paul (Charlie Plummer – and no, they’re not related), for whom the miserly Getty refused to pay the ransom.

While the casting of Plummer may have garnered all the attention, it’s Michelle Williams who takes the lead role here as Gail Harris, John Paul’s mother, who desperately tries to convince Getty to hand over the money – finding an unlikely ally in Getty’s adviser Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg).

[adrotate group=”3″]Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Cert 15, 115 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Jan 12

Movie website

Frances McDormand is probably best known to many for her Oscar-winning role as the folksy, unflappable police officer in Fargo – and many are tipping her for awards glory again for her lead role in this darkly comic drama.

McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a mother grieving after the brutal murder of her daughter. Frustrated by the lack of progress on the case, she puts up a controversial message on three billboards on the way into town, designed to provoke the police into action.

This brings her into conflict with the town’s chief of police (Woody Harrelson) and his hot-headed deputy (Sam Rockwell).

Writer-director Martin McDonagh has previously been responsible for the acclaimed black comedies In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths – many reviews are saying that this weightier movie is his best yet.

Darkest Hour

Cert PG, 125 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Jan 12

Movie website

This wartime drama from director Joe Wright (Atonement) and screenwriter Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) goes behind the scenes in the early days of Winston Churchill’s premiership.

With the Nazis advancing across Western Europe, Churchill must decide whether to negotiate a peace treaty with Hitler, or to stand and fight – while dealing with a party that wants rid of him and a King who doubts his abilities.

Gary Oldman – who’s played everyone from Sid Vicious to Dracula – is not perhaps the most obvious candidate for the role of Churchill, but some critics have hailed this as the best performance of his career.

Even if historical dramas aren’t normally your thing, this may be one to make an exception for – reviews suggest that Wright and McCarten have delivered a compelling political thriller, which works well as a companion piece to last year’s Dunkirk.

The Post

Cert 12A, 116 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Jan 19

Movie website

This real-life drama from Steven Spielberg tells the story of how a team of journalists fought against the US government to publish confidential documents about the country’s involvement in Vietnam.

Meryl Streep stars as Kay Graham, publisher of The Washington Post and the first female newspaper in the US, who worked with the paper’s editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) to bring the truth to light.

The screenplay is by first-time screenwriter Liz Hannah and Josh Singer (the latter of whom co-wrote 2015’s newspaper drama Spotlight), and the strong supporting cast includes a host of top-end US TV stars such as Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Carrie Coon (so good as the determined police chief in the most recent series of Fargo).

Much is being made of the fact that this is the first time Streep and Hanks have starred in a movie together, and to be fair it is a big deal – after all, Hanks was once famous for being Streepless in Seattle…

Family films

Coco

Cert PG, 105 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Jan 19

Movie website

Pixar’s sequel-heavy output in recent years means it’s always a cause for celebration when they put out a new, original story – and word is that this may be their best since 2015’s brilliant Inside Out.

Coco is a coming-of-age tale about 12-year-old Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), an aspiring musician in a Mexican family where music has been banned for several generations.

Set on the Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead, which Bond fans will remember as the setting for the opening sequence of SPECTRE), the film sees Miguel transported to the Land of the Dead, where he begins a quest to find the real story behind his family’s history.

Critics have praised the film’s vibrant and colourful visuals as well as its well-rounded characters and moving storytelling.

Early Man

Cert TBC, TBC mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Jan 26

Movie website

This Stone Age comedy from the peerless Aardman Animations looks set to offer their familiar blend of stop-motion animation, loveable characters and a very British sense of humour.

The story sees caveman Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) – aided by his pet hog, Hognob – working to rally his tribe when they come under threat from the villainous Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City.

Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams voices the brave rebel Goona who fights alongside them, while the top-notch supporting cast includes the likes of Miriam Margolyes, Richard Ayoade and Timothy Spall.

Anything from the studio that brought us Wallace and Gromit is pretty much guaranteed to be a good night out for young and old alike – and this film also sees the beloved duo’s creator, Nick Park, back behind the camera for his first film since 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Comedy

Downsizing

Cert 15, 135 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Jan 19

Movie website

Don’t sweat the small stuff…Matt Damon and Kirsten Wiig find a novel solution to their problems in this satirical comedy.

Set in a near future where scientists have discovered how to shrink people to five inches tall, the film sees stressed-out couple Paul (Damon) and his wife Audrey (Wiig) opt to ‘downsize’ and live in this new miniaturised community – only to find that their problems aren’t so easily diminished.

Director and co-writer Alexander Payne is no stranger to the mid-life crisis movie, having previously brought us the wine snob road trip comedy Sideways and the George Clooney-led family drama The Descendants.

One-off screenings

It’s a bit quiet on the one-offs front this month, with City Screen’s Vintage Sundays strand taking a break for January – there are though a few to mention in the Discover Tuesdays slot.

If you spent all of Christmas getting slaughtered, you can sit back and watch it happen to someone else in violent samurai action movie Blade of the Immortal, screening on Tuesday 2nd.

Directed by the prolific Takashi Miike (perhaps best-known here for the 1999 horror Audition), it tells the story of Manji, an immortal samurai who promises to help a young girl avenge her parents’ death. Cue a series of spectacular blood-soaked set pieces…

Altogether gentler fare can be found in documentary The Ballad of Shirley Collins on the 9th, a film about the veteran English folk singer who retired from the scene after she lost her voice, only to re-emerge in 2016 with her first new album in 38 years.

Keeping it mellow, on the 23rd you can catch Walk With Me, an intimate documentary about a community of Zen Buddhist monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to mastering the art of mindfulness.

Benedict Cumberbatch narrates – and if there’s anyone who could do with a bit of Zen in their lives, then it’s surely Sherlock.

I’ll hope to be able to include more about Everyman’s one-off screenings next month, but one to flag from their first week’s listings is the hugely acclaimed romantic coming-of-age drama Call Me By Your Name, which featured in many critics’ end-of-year polls. It’s showing on Tues 2nd and Thurs 4th.

Over at Vue, on 10th January there’s a chance to see the premiere of Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, followed by a live broadcast of a Q&A with Clapton and the film’s director Lili Fini Zanuck.

The film looks back at Clapton’s life and work, using archive footage mixed with audio of new interviews and narration from the man himself.

There – no-one can say I’ve left Eric Clapton unplugged…

Community cinema

Some great choices to kick off the New Year in South Bank and New Earswick this month.

I missed Hidden Figures in the cinema last year, so I’m pleased to see South Bank Community Cinema are screening it on Friday 19th.

This biographical drama tells the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians working at NASA during the Space Race, who helped to make John Glenn the first American to orbit the earth.

It was acclaimed by many as an entertaining and feelgood drama shedding a long-overdue light on these unsung heroes, with charismatic performances from the three leads – Taraji P. Henson (Cookie in TV’s Empire), Octavia Spencer (The Help) and singer/actress Janelle Monáe (Moonlight).

The screening is in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road. Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.

Meanwhile, Film at the Folk Hall has two screenings towards the end of the month.

First up on Friday 26th is the excellent Dunkirk.

Director Christopher Nolan’s captivating, suspenseful recreation of the evacuation of Allied Soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940 tells the story from three perspectives – land, sea and air – as we follow both those trying to escape and those coming to their rescue. I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet.

Also worth noting it’s a members’ free screening – membership is only £5 (until the end of October) and new members can join on the night.

On Sunday 28th, there’s a kids’ matinee screening of Disney’s 2016 CGI musical adventure Moana – the tale of a strong-willed young Polynesian girl who bravely sets sail in a search of a legendary demigod to save her home island.

It’s made by the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, and the general critical consensus was that it’s a worthy modern-day successor to those Disney favourites.

Both screenings take place at the Folk Hall, New Earswick. Tickets are £4 per adult, £2 per child or £8 for a family ticket.

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