Six of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend

Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson wow in Wonder and James Franco hits gold in The Disaster Artist

Wonder ★★★★
Directed by Stephen Chbosky. Starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, Izabela Vidovic, Sonia Braga. Cert PG, gen release, 113mins

Before the studios became entirely fixated on franchises, Hollywood used to make inspiring dramas that ended with standing ovations or children joyfully running toward the cameras. Audiences would leave with life lessons and snivelling into the sleeves. Wonder is just such an old-fashioned delight. Your brain may have cynical questions. Your brain is going to shut up. Even if you somehow manage to withstand the mighty screen chemistry of Wilson and Roberts and the cuteness of Tremblay, nothing can counter the emotional clout of Sonia Braga as Via's late grandma. And did we mention the puppy? TB

Happy End ★★★★
Directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Fantine Harduin, Franz Rogowski, Laura Verlinden, Toby Jones. 15A cert, limited release, 107 min

A bourgeois family squabble bitterly in their Calais home. Nobody who'd seen a Haneke movie could mistake the icy, rigorous Happy End for the work of any other film-maker. The characters are allowed the full spectrum of experience from boredom through flinty anger to suicidal depression. Christian Berger shoots it with a camera that never mistakes light for warmth. Happy End doesn't have the bite of the best Haneke work. But it remains a troubling, blackly funny soap opera. DC


The Disaster Artist ★★★★
Directed by James Franco. Starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron, Sharon Stone. 15A cert, limited release, 104 min

Franco hits directorial gold with a good-natured drama following the creation of "the worst film ever made": Tommy Wiseau's belated cult hit The Room. It's a tribute to Franco's skills that his depiction of Wiseau is simultaneously hilarious and endearing. Adapted from the award-winning 2013 memoir The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, Franco's 14th film as director casts brother Dave (excellent) as Greg Sestero, the line producer and star of The Room. A second cult looms. TB

The Man Who Invented Christmas ★★★
Directed by Bharat Nalluri. Starring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow. PG cert, gen release, 104 min

It's 1834, and on the back of three flops, Charles Dickens could really use a bestseller. Desperate, he bangs out A Christmas Carol. Oh, the compound ironies: Dan Stevens, the man who ruined Christmas for millions in 2012 (when his Downton Abbey character Matthew Crawley was killed off), is back to restore the festivities. His Dickens is all ribald energy and the film around him is better than we had a right to expect. God bless them, every one! TB

Song of Granite ★★★★
Directed by Pat Collins. Starring Michael O'Chonfhlaola, Macdara O Fátharta, Leni Parker, Colm Seoighe. G cert, limited release, 97 min

The singular director of Silence returns with a superb study of the legendary sean nós singer Joe Heaney. The music is terrific. It is, however, Collins's figurative voice that registers most strongly with the viewer. Weaving archival footage in with Richard Kendrick's bewitching, clean monochrome photography, the director blurs the lines between documentary, expressionist flourish and biographical drama. Some viewers may yearn for a touch more narrative drive. But nobody will emerge unmoved. DC

Battle of the Sexes ★★★★
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Starring Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Eric Christian Olsen. 12A cert, gen release, 121 min

Hugely entertaining, impressively compassionate attempt to dramatise the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Stone), legendary champ, and arch self-publicist Bobby Riggs (Carell). Carell hams with abandon as a chancer constantly surveying the horizon for his next mark or hair-brained scheme. Stone brings out the gentleness in a famously tough competitor. At 121 minutes, Battle of the Sexes occasionally drags, but it's the Feminist V Male Chauvinist Pig showdown that we need right now. TB