Four-time Oscar nominee Ridley Scott bids for that elusive Best Director statuette with a lavish crime drama scripted by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, based on Sara Gay Forden's book The House Of Gucci: A Sensational Story Of Murder, Madness, Glamour, And Greed.

Ambitious Italian socialite Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) woos businessman Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), grandson of Guccio Gucci, founder of the luxury label.

Their marriage secures her a seat at the dynastic table headed by Maurizio's father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) and uncle Aldo (Al Pacino).

For Patrizia to wield greater influence inside the corridors of power, she must weaken the Gucci family from within.

She exploits tiny fissures between Maurizio and the rest of the clan, including his extrovert cousin Paolo (Jared Leto).

As tensions heighten, scheming minx Patrizia finds herself at odds with her own spouse and she sets in motion a murderous plan to quickly shed the emotional baggage that is slowing down her ascent of the social ladder.




Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda caps off an exceedingly busy year in front of and behind the camera (In The Heights, Vivo and Tick, Tick... BOOM!) by composing the original songs for Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Charise Castro Smith's computer-animated musical fantasy.

Surprisingly, his exuberant and lyrically ingenious songbook lacks a bona fide earworm to elevate Disney's 60th animated adventure above his toe-tapping work on Moana or usurp husband and wife duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez's haunting melodies on the Frozen films.

What Encanto lacks in instantly hummable tunes it compensates with the vibrant colours and traditions of Colombian culture, brought to life with impeccable artistry and cute visual flourishes including an enchanted home that communicates emotions by moving its window shutters and floor tiles.

The film's spunky heroine, Mirabel (loving voiced by Stephanie Beatrix), continues the studio's line of spirited, independent women, who proactively change their fortunes and harness inner strength without seeking permission from a man.

As one relative tenderly counsels: "You're exactly what this family needs. You just need to see it."

During a subsequent quest for self-empowerment, heartstrings are repeatedly plucked by Bush and Castro Smith's script and composer Germaine Franco's musical score swells to the point of bursting.

A mountain town in Colombia is home to successive generations of the Madrigal family led by imperious matriarch Abuela Alma (Maria Cecilia Botero).

She is custodian of a magical candle, lit in her darkest hour when her husband sacrificed himself to protect their kin from harm.

The flickering totem bestows special powers to the Madrigals when they come of age.

Abuela's daughter Julieta (Angie Cepeda) can heal wounds with her cooking, her other daughter Pepa (Carolina Gaitan) manipulates the weather with her moods, while estranged son Bruno (John Leguizamo) can divine the future.

The only member of the household not to be blessed by the candle is Julieta's youngest daughter Mirabel.

When the family's home comes under threat from a dark force, Mirabel steps out of the shadow of her gifted siblings - super strong Luisa (Jessica Darrow) and impossibly perfect Isabela (Diane Guererro) - to seek the key that will protect her loved ones.

Encanto is festooned with fierce yet flawed female characters and, in a timely reversal of fortunes, male counterparts are given exceedingly short shrift and often fade into the luxuriously painted background.

An energetic opening musical number explaining the Madrigal family tree barely pauses for breath, establishing a sprightly tempo matched by slickly engineered action sequences.

Bush, Howard and Castro Smith's film doesn't deviate from a path well trodden by previous Disney animations but plays to its strengths, placing family values at the heart of a story that beats defiantly in the face of adversity.




Tidings of comfort and joy overflow in director Gil Kenan's rollicking adventure adapted by the director and Ol Parker from Matt Haig's 2015 book.

Employing the same framing device as The Princess Bride - an elderly relative (Dame Maggie Smith) regales initially sceptical moppets with an outlandish story that fires their imaginations and ultimately thaws their hearts - A Boy Called Christmas posits an alternative origin story for Santa Claus and the tradition of bestowing gifts at the closing of the year.

A life lesson about how to cope with bereavement ("Grief is the price we pay for love but worth it a million times over") is laced with sugary sentimentality and magical flights of fantasy including a talking mouse who dreams of cheese and benevolent elves blessed with wish spells.

Brisk pacing keeps the audience's bells jingling through a couple of narrative lulls but the promise of a flying reindeer and Smith pursing her lips around choice one-liners in present-day sections staves off the threat of an early frost.

Rising star Henry Lawfull exudes wide-eyed innocence as the plucky teenage hero, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery after his prized possession - a doll carved from a turnip - suffers a most heinous fate.

He plays heartbroken urchin Nikolas, who lives in a forest in the middle of Finland with his woodcutter father Joel (Michiel Huisman).

The hard-working parent believes that money will ease the grief of losing a wife.

"Being good is better than being rich," coos the boy. "If you've forgotten that, Papa, then you've forgotten Mama."

When the blustering king of the realm (Jim Broadbent) offers a handsome reward for proof that hope and wonder exist, Joel abandons his boy to join an expedition led by Anders the huntsman (Rune Temte) to the fabled land of elves.

Nikolas begs to join the quest but the child languishes at home in the company of cruel Aunt Carlotta (Kristen Wiig).

A chance discovery of a map to Elfhelm sewn into the lining of a red hat propels Nikolas and pet mouse Miika (voiced by Stephen Merchant) on an epic odyssey.

Trudging through a treacherous winter wonderland, the adventurers befriend an injured reindeer, which they christen Blitzen after the lake where Nikolas went sledging with his mother.

Boy and mouse also encounter an elf elder (Toby Jones), his great-granddaughter Little Noosh (Indica Watson) and a mischievous Truth Pixie (Zoe Margaret Colletti).

A Boy Called Christmas is a wholesome and sweetly enjoyable prelude to the Yuletide festivities.

Kenan and Parker's script seesaws gently between humour and heartbreak, augmented with assured digital effects to bring colourful fairytale creatures to life such as a slobbering troll.

Scares are mild, washed down with plentiful seasonal cheer.