The record-breaking sci-fi epic opened last week (ends18Dec15) to huge fanfare and proved to be a box office smash, earning the biggest opening of all time in North America with $238 million (£159 million).

It is also up for a Critics' Choice Award after bosses at the Broadcast Film Critics Association specially expanded the Best Picture category for the 2016 ceremony to include a last-minute nomination for the film.

Now members at the Associated Press are heaping praise on the movie, choosing to hand the blockbuster its top honour for 2015 over Adele, Taylor Swift, Amy Schumer,Jennifer Lawrence, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis and the Kardashians.

"Personally, it's been three years of feeling privileged to be part of something that's bigger than all of us," director J.J. Abrams tells the publication. "This accolade is very much appreciated and no exception to that feeling."

The Entertainer of the Year honour was voted on by members who were asked to consider newsmakers who had the largest impact on entertainment and pop culture in 2015.

Previous recipients include Adele, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey, Betty White, Frozen and Stephen Colbert.