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Cineworld blog editor Sean Wilson selects his best films of 2017

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It's time to discover the greatest movies of 2017, as personally selected by me, Cineworld blog editor Sean Wilson. What will make the grade - and which movie will come out on top? Scroll down for films 10 to six in my yearly round-up.

10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

As a franchise, Star Wars is at risk of being stuck in the past, of coasting on past glories and calling back to its heritage at the expense of moving the mythology forward. Along comes writer-director Rian Johnson with a pleasing attempt to shake things up in The Last Jedi: a far more eccentric, humourous and incident-packed entry in the canon than we had any right to expect.

Not all of it works - some of the humour is ill-judged, there are bizarre character arcs and more than the odd longeur, including the Canto Bight sequence. But in tinkering with our perception of the Jedi mythology, reclaiming it from the sanctimonious depictions seen in the early movies in favour of tortured nuance, Johnson takes more dramatic risks than any Star Wars movie in recent years.

Featuring a clutch of excellent performances, including a never-better Adam Driver as the compellingly anguished Kylo Ren, it's a movie that flaunts expectations and breaks rules to risky effect. But there's no denying that when the movie achieves lift-off (most notably in the spectacular, climactic Battle of Crait sequence), it distils that sense of wonder that reminds us why we love Star Wars in the first place.


9. Free Fire

British director Ben Wheatley is something of an arch-provocateur, having unsettled audiences with the likes of psychological horror Kill List and social satire High-Rise. His latest, Free Fire, approaches a relatively more conventional, mainstream framework, both embracing the conventions of the quintessential Hollywood shoot-em-up movie whilst lacing them with a deliciously nasty comic twist.

The success of the movie lies in its bullet-path velocity: this is little more than a 90-minute shoot-out taking place in a Boston warehouse in the 1970s, jettisoning character nuance in favour of escalatingly absurd levels of violence and chaos. The somewhat mean-spirited humour of the movie alienated as many as it attracted, but there's no denying Wheatley's logistical skill in visually depicting the disparate groups of characters drawing fire on each other from all corners.

Then there's the terrific international cast, whose clash of accents (Irish, American, South African) is as much a potent force as the ammunition whizzing around the frame. The movie gives a host of superb actors, among them Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Michael Smiley and a scene-stealing Sharlto Copley, more than enough to chew on, causing us to both laugh uproariously and wince in equal measure.


8. The LEGO Batman Movie

If you thought the Dark Knight had been sliced and diced every which way, along come the fiendishly clever minds behind The LEGO Movie to prove us all wrong.

This frenetic and utterly winning platform for Will Arnett's plasticised, miniscule Batman stands alongside the wider canon of movies for how it lovingly sends up and embraces the iconic comic book figure. Working from a brilliant script, director Chris McKay fashions a Batman with a habit of alienating all those around him, who ultimately realises that without his greatest nemesis, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), his life essentially has no purpose.

It's a hilarious quasi-bromance that, as a result, delves deep into the Caped Crusader's mythology, exposing it for both big laughs and surprising amounts of pathos. Arnett continues to build on his razor-sharp vocal performance whilst every gorgeous, stop-motion frame is stuffed with so many gags, both overt and covert, that repeat viewings are practically demanded. It's akin to the utterly nutty formula of the classic Airplane! movies, but in LEGO form - and that's a very good thing indeed.


7. God's Own Country

Director Francis Lee announces himself as a filmmaker of serious repute with this deeply emotive gay romance that plays out against the windswept Yorkshire moors.

Resisting glib comparisons with Ang Lee's Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, Lee's film carves out its own distinctly homespun identity. As Josh O'Connor's central character, young sheep farmer Johnny, finds himself torn between the needs of family tradition and the possibility of future happiness with Romanian immigrant worker Gheorge (Alec Secareanu), the story blends a sense of topicality with raw emotion. It's also a beautifully immersive depiction of a harsh landscape that is embedded in the psyche and body language of those who live there.

It's a movie about many things, including the need to stay true to one's roots and the trepidatious sense of fear that comes with anticipating a new future. Yet above all, it's a movie that dares to imagine a sense of hope for people of all backgrounds and orientations. Aided by the exquisitely sensitive central performances, Lee doesn't just make us believe it - he makes us feel it, too.


6. Dunkirk

What were we expecting from Christopher Nolan's World War II thriller? It's a question worth asking because, in his usual style, the Inception filmmaker subverts pretty much all of our expectations.

Forgoing both the splattery viscera of the genre redefining Saving Private Ryan, as well as the more audience-friendly, character-driven narrative of something like A Bridge Too Far, Nolan's movie pulls something far more difficult and triumphant out of the bag. Yes, it's in-keeping with his love of chronology, interweaving three narratives (land, sea and air) around each other as they play out during different timelines, and yes it features regulars including Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy (the latter aceing it behind another mask as a noble Spitfire pilot).

Yet it's also a daring, experimental indie movie within the guise of a mega-budget summer blockbuster epic. It's Memento by way of Black Hawk Down that overwhelms us with IMAX-filling visuals and ear-shattering sound, the score mingling with the effects in a manner that's seamless and discombobulating. It's nothing less than a total immersion in the visceral horrors of war, both technically accomplished and intellectually stimulating whilst also leading to a genuinely moving, 'Nimrod'-scored climax that honours the memory of those who died on the beaches of Dunkirk.



What film will be number one in my rundown of 2017? Check out the result here on the blog very soon, and in the meantime tweet your own choices @Cineworld.