“Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!”

Those for whom it just isn’t Christmas without Jimmy Stewart having an existential crisis will be glad to hear that It’s A Wonderful Life will be working its magic in York cinemas once more this month.

Elsewhere, a certain author has the Dickens of a time trying to write his festive tale, and Anna Kendrick leads the Bellas into battle one last time.

And there’s the small matter of the next chapter in the Star Wars saga. Details are of course closely under wraps but one thing we do know – There Will Be Porgs…

Sci-fi/Fantasy

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Cert TBC, TBC mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Thurs Dec 14

Movie website

Here we go, then. Two years on from that hilltop meeting, fans finally get to see the next chapter in the space saga.

The Last Jedi sees Rey (Daisy Ridley) develop her new-found abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in an adventure which we’re told will unlock some of the mysteries of the Force.

Fighting alongside her are allies Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), while over on the Dark Side, Adam Driver keeps it emo as the troubled Kylo Ren.

The film also features the final appearance of the late, great Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.

Following JJ Abrams last time round, the fanboy being given the keys to the kingdom here is director Rian Johnson, who’s previously made the excellent high school noir Brick and the twisty time-travel thriller Looper.

Drama

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Cert PG, 104 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Dec 1

Movie website

A Christmas Carol gets the origins story treatment here, as a writer’s-blocked Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) struggles to come up with his next big hit.

The film follows Dickens over the fraught six weeks in which he wrote and self-published his festive classic, and imagines the author himself being visited, Scrooge-like, by the novel’s cast of characters, including old Ebeneezer himself (Christopher Plummer).

Jonathan Pryce plays Dickens’ father, while elsewhere the cast includes such period drama stalwarts as Miriam Margolyes and Simon Callow.

Stronger

Cert 15, 119 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Dec 8

Movie website

Jake Gyllenhaal takes the lead in this inspiring real-life drama about Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

It shows how Bauman rebuilt his life with the support of his family and friends, including mother Patty (Miranda Richardson) and girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany, from TV’s Orphan Black) – and also dealt with being thrust into the spotlight after a picture of him in the attack’s aftermath went viral.

The film has been widely praised since its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, with critics impressed by its sensitive, warts-and-all portrayal and avoidance of the usual inspirational drama clichés.

Molly’s Game

Cert 15, 140 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Tues Dec 26

Movie website

The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin’s recent cinematic output has had a common theme of intriguing real-life stories often based around a super-intelligent figure (Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Steve Jobs in, er, Steve Jobs).

Molly’s Game – Sorkin’s first feature as director as well as writer – continues in this vein, with Jessica Chastain taking the lead as Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who, in a stranger-than-fiction turn of events, ended up building an underground poker empire.

When the FBI come calling, she enlists attorney Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to fight her case.

As ever with Sorkin, the trailer suggests audiences can expect to see plenty of extremely clever people talking extremely quickly, with the poker underworld backdrop adding an American Hustle-style intrigue to proceedings.

Family Films

Wonder

Cert PG, 113 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Dec 1

Movie website

This feelgood tale stars Jacob Tremblay (who gave a great performance as the boy held captive with his mother in 2015’s Room) as Auggie Pullman, a home-schooled fifth-grader with a severe facial disfigurement who begins attending a mainstream elementary school.

Based on a New York Times bestseller, the film follows Auggie as he tries to adapt and fit in to his new environment, encouraged by his loving but concerned parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson).

It’s had a mostly positive reception from critics, with those who found it cloying outweighed by those who were moved by its empathetic approach and its celebration of kindness. (And to be fair, if you’re not keen on being emotionally manipulated, the combination of the words ‘feelgood film’ and ‘Owen Wilson’ acts as a pretty effective red flag anyway…)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Cert TBC, TBC mins

Vue York

From Weds Dec 20

Movie website

The magical board game from the popular 1995 adventure has become a video game in this follow-up, which sees four teenagers sucked into the game’s jungle world, and transformed into their avatars.

If nothing else, those avatars have some cracking names – Dwayne Johnson plays Dr Smolder Bravestone alongside Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar and Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse. (Poor Jack Black has to make do with the comparatively drab moniker of Professor Shelley Oberon.)

There was a pretty negative response from fans when this sequel was announced in 2015, with some feeling that it came too soon after the tragic death of the original’s star Robin Williams.

Even so, those desperate to get out of the house for a couple of hours in the No Man’s Land between Christmas and New Year may well be tempted to smell what the Rock is cooking. Let’s just hope it isn’t a big festive turkey…

Comedy

The Disaster Artist

Cert 15, 103 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Weds Dec 6

Movie website

This true-life comedy drama about the making of a legendarily terrible movie looks like a lot of fun.

The insanely prolific James Franco both directs and takes the lead role as entrepreneur Tommy Wiseau, who in 2003 released a self-financed indie film called The Room, which he wrote, directed and starred in.

It would have disappeared without trace if it hadn’t gained a cult following among film fans mesmerised by its across-the-board awfulness, earning it a reputation as possibly the worst movie ever made.

Dave Franco (yep, James’ brother) co-stars as Greg Sestero, an aspiring actor who had a lead role in Wiseau’s film, with support from Franco’s regular partner in crime Seth Rogen and Alison Brie (TV’s Community).

And if Franco’s film whets your appetite for seeing the real thing in all its glory, you’re in luck – City Screen are showing The Room at 9pm on Friday 8th.

Pitch Perfect 3

Cert 12A, 93 mins

Vue York

From Weds Dec 20

Movie website

“Last call, pitches…” The musical comedy franchise that leaves no acapella-related pun underused is back for a third and final instalment.

This time round, the Bellas (including regulars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow) get back together for one more singing competition on an overseas tour – only to find that their rivals are a group who use both voices and – gasp! – instruments. Aca-Judas!

Pitch Perfect 2 director Elizabeth Banks will reprise her role as one of the not exactly supportive commentators, but has handed over directing duties to Trish Sie, who – fun fact! – made the hit treadmill-dancing music video for OK Go back in 2006.

With experience like that, she should be a more than aca-ceptable replacement (sorry, it’s really hard to stop once you’ve started…).

The Enchanted Screen

City Screen’s fairytale and fantasy season continues this month, with plenty more treats in store.

The Vintage Sundays strand offers fairy tales for adults and children alike, starting with Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves on Sunday 3rd.

One for the grown-ups, this 1984 Gothic fantasy, adapted from Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, follows the dark dreams of a teenage girl in which young men transform into werewolves on the prowl.

That’s followed up with the more family-friendly likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on 10th, and The Singing, Ringing Tree on 17th.

The latter is a Brothers Grimm-derived tale of a proud and beautiful princess who learns lessons in kindness, humility and bravery.

All sounds harmless enough, but its screening on the BBC in the 1960s seems to have left some impressionable viewers with psychological scars – including Paul Whitehouse, who went on to spoof it in a Fast Show sketch.

Less traumatic TV memories may be stirred for some by The Box of Delights – the 1984 BBC series gets a big screen outing on Saturday 2nd.

Elsewhere, kids can enjoy Saturday screenings of the New Orleans-set Disney animation The Princess and the Frog (2nd), the original (and best) Shrek (9th) and Disney’s entertainingly self-satirising live action musical Enchanted (16th).

Who else but Johnny Depp could have played the curious and fragile outsider in Edward Scissorhands? Well, apparently Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hanks and, er, Tom Cruise were all considered for the role.

Why not pop down for City Screen’s showing of Tim Burton’s modern-day fable on Monday 11th and fantasise about what might have been…

Rounding things off on the fantasy front, you can also catch 2015’s The Tale of Tales on Tuesday 12th. Salma Hayek, John C Reilly and Toby Jones star in this dark fantasy loosely based on 17th century Italian fairytales.

It had a limited release in the UK last year, and if Mark Kermode’s review is anything to go by, it’s a film worth catching on the big screen if you can.

One-offs and seasonal screenings

First off, two documentaries to flag up. Monday 4th sees the premiere of Human Flow, the latest work from acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

An examination of the global refugee crisis filmed in 23 countries, the screening is followed by a live broadcast of Ai Weiwei in conversation at the Barbican Milton Hall. Showing at both City Screen and Vue.

If you watched The Mountain Between Us recently and wished Winslet and Elba would stop jabbering on and let you enjoy the scenery, you may well be tempted by Mountain, which shows at City Screen on Monday 11th.

Narrated by Willem Dafoe, with music from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, this is a meditation on the power of mountains in the human imagination.

Moving away from documentary, I’m hoping that City Screen will be showing In Between as part of Discover Tuesdays on 19th – it’s scheduled at other Picturehouse cinemas on that date but not for York so far.

This Tel Aviv-set drama about three young Palestinian women navigating their way between traditional and modern culture has had excellent reviews praising its celebration of female friendship – one to watch out for.

One to mention for anime fans meanwhile is Lu Over The Wall, which screens at Vue on Wednesday 6th and sees a young boy befriend a mermaid who helps him come to terms with his parents’ divorce.

Time to get festive, then…as mentioned earlier, Frank Capra’s much-loved It’s A Wonderful Life is back at both Vue and City Screen.

It shows at City Screen on Christmas Eve, and Vue’s website has its release date as 8th but no screening dates confirmed yet, so check back there for dates and times.

City Screen also have a selection of other festive favourites on offer, with Bing Crosby crooning away in White Christmas (Monday 18th), miserly Michael Caine in The Muppets Christmas Carol (18th), and the ever-resourceful Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (Friday 22nd).

And finally – few would have thought, back in 1988, that an action movie about an ordinary cop taking on 12 terrorists would become a future festive classic. The secret of Die Hard’s (Sat 23rd) longevity? It’s simply the vest…

Community Cinema

“Santa! Oh my God! Santa’s coming! I know him! I know him!”

Film at the Folk Hall are winding up their autumn season with Will Ferrell favourite Elf, which screens at the Folk Hall, New Earswick on Sunday 17th at 2:30pm.

Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human raised as an elf who travels to New York to find his father (James Caan).

Fancy dress and festive surprises are promised! Tickets are £4 per adult, £2 per child or £8 for a family ticket.

Meanwhile, South Bank Community Cinema’s final offerings of the year are Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout and Disney classic Fantasia.

Screening on Friday 8th, Walkabout was Roeg’s second feature, and tells the story of a fourteen year old girl (Jenny Agutter) and her younger brother (Roeg’s son Luc) stranded in the Australian outback who meet a young aborigine (David Gulpilil) who is on a rite of passage known as a “walkabout”.

Most famous for its Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene in which Mickey Mouse learns the dangers of sub-contracting, Fantasia screens on 22nd.

Originally released in 1940, the film puts together eight sequences set to classical music and is considered an animation landmark.

Both screenings take place in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road. Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.