It’s December and the festive season is already in full swing. What’s more exciting than Christmas Day is the prospect of some time off work to indulge in even more movies than usual. Whether it’s the latest instalment in the biggest space opera series ever made or some charming animation, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy at the cinema this month. Keep reading for our top movie picks.

The Year’s Most Anticipated Film:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars has been force-feeding us all year by ramming trailer after trailer down our throats relentlessly. Perhaps no other film in recent years has built up quite as much hype as the next episode of this epic space franchise.

The movie has been marketed perfectly though; an incredible first teaser trailer that in two minutes rekindled the faith of original fans; a bunch of new merch for the holiday season, and the anticipated new Battlefront game releasing only a month before the film. And of course The Force Awakens itself comes out just a week before Santa boards his sleigh for his annual world trip.

Man of the moment JJ Abrams has been very secretive about the actual plot of the film. Where exactly is Luke in all the posters and teasers? Has he joined the dark side? Who is Kylo Ren and why is he not called Darth? Is he not a Sith Lord? If not, then who is? Jar Jar Binks?! (Seriously, look online at the more elaborate fan theories).

The only thing we know for certain about the new film, given its title, is that after a long time in a galaxy far far away, the force is an ancient relic thought to have been long forgotten, if not mocked as an old joke no one believes anymore. At least until our new protagonists are put up against Darth Vader’s spiritual successor, Kylo Ren, about whom we know hardly anything about, when the side of the light begins their own journey in the way of the Jedi.star-wars-the-force-awakensHan and Chewie are back, as is the millennium falcon, a pivotal character in its own right. Luke and Leia also return, as does R2 and C3PO, the only constants throughout all previous six episodes. The Force Awakens really looks like the nod towards the original trilogy that everyone was hoping for – from the little story we know through to its very aesthetic. Just look at that costume design. And practical effects are back, thank goodness!

JJ has said he wanted to give the fans exactly what they wanted, and if that was his one rule, it’s already going to be an absolute starship exploding, light sabre clashing blast. Forget all prejudices and genre preferences for one moment. If you love cinema, you’ll be there for the release on December 17.

The Festive Film:

Christmas with the Coopers

We all know how Christmas Day goes. The routine of waking up before your early alarm goes off with the sound of jingle bells. You tiptoe downstairs, shivering and shuffling in your slippers towards the boiler to turn the heating on. You make some cups of tea for your parents so they can’t be mad that you’re about to wake them up after their late-night Christmas Eve mulled wines. And then, after all the gift giving and receiving, you sit down to that year-long awaited lunch, yet when you reach the bottom of the stairs you see a bunch of relatives who’ve just arrived and who’s names you’ve forgotten. Except, of course, if that relative is Amanda Seyfried – one of the stars in this annual dose of Christmas film feasts.

Christmas with the Coopers is the every-household story of the overbearing mother who tries to bring all her ‘babies’ (who have now grown up into actual adults) into one room for a wonderful (and stressful) day of eating turkey, drinking sherry, and celebrating the fact they’re all together for the first time in months.

Newborn children are throwing food, the single dad is trying his best to contain it, the nearly 30 bachelorette sister is trying to convince the family she’s normal, and the father of them all just wants his afternoon nap so he has enough energy to watch reruns of Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials later that evening. These ensemble stories that make up Christmas are exactly the type of thing being offered by director Jessie Nelson in this American-style Love Actually (out in cinemas now).

The Comedy Film: 

Daddy’s Home

If you went around asking who everyone’s favourite Hollywood comedian is, it wouldn’t be long before industry legends Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg came into conversation. The two funny men have starred together before in 2010’s The Other Guys, proving they have the on-screen chemistry to pull off the very reactive double act required for Daddy’s Home, a film in which an overly nice step dad tries all he can to win over the children left by their biological father, an icon still adored by the kids who comes back into their lives and competes with the new overwhelming man of the house.

The situation comedy sees both men battle with credit score history, back scratches and Eskimo kisses with the kids, and who can generally be the most alpha, making a hilarious joke out of a sensitive and awkward realistic issue. The film is out on Boxing Day, so if you’re not too full to move after all those roast potatoes, get down to the cinema on December 26.

The Family-Friendly Film: 

The Peanuts Movie

When you think of newspaper comic strips, only a handful of famous ones spring to mind except for Dilbert, Garfield, and Peanuts. Of course there are many more, but few others have made it into household name territory. It’s deserving then, that Peanuts – the notorious 50-year long comic strip story of Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy – has finally got the movie adaptation it needed.

Handled respectively and carefully, its refreshed 3D look still gives off the same charm that its televised counterpart did back in the day. The awkward humour of a young boy trying to fit in and his confidant Snoopy, the boisterous dog who is the embodiment of Charlie Brown’s inner confidence, has been the most integral part to the Peanuts story, and is central to the animated feature film. Directed by Steve Martino, don’t miss the sweet and relatable story of one of pop culture’s most loved selection of characters on 21 December.

That rounds off what has been an incredible year for film. We’ve been treated to the reboot of Jurassic Park, the most emotional entry to the Fast and Furious franchise, Pixar’s climb back to the top of their game, and James Bond’s 24th lesson in kick-buttery. And that’s all without us having even gotten to Star Wars. Enjoy the rest of 2015’s awesome entertainment and see you in January for another exciting year ahead.