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12 Best Movies of 2017 So Far

From social horror to superheroes, crime musicals to culture-clash rom-coms – Peter Travers picks the highlights of an already stellar movie year

The movie year is half over, so it’s time to swim past the multiplex sewage (there has been plenty already) and locate a few golden nuggets that we’ll still be thinking about at the end of the year. So here’s my list (in preferential order) of the 12 best movies of 2017 so far. I’m marking on a curve, giving points for originality and go-for-broke style that flies in the cowardly face of the usual play-it-safe Hollywood formula. So read, discuss and challenge when ready.

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‘A Quiet Passion’

You probably haven’t seen (precious few have so far) this alternately lyrical and tough take on the life of poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) from filmmaker Terence Davies. So get busy, if for no other reason to behold the sublime Cynthia Nixon – she fully inhabits the body and soul of an artist whose words took on the great themes of time and eternity while living in seclusion in her parents home in Amherst, Massachusetts. And you’ll marvel at how Davies, a kindred hermetic spirit, found his way to the core of his heroine without resorting to a single biopic cliché. A remarkable achievement.

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‘John Wick, Chapter 2’

There are audiences who refuse to regard John Wick, the avenger played by Keanu Reeves, as anything but another nihilistic avatar for violence. Your loss, people. With brutal force and balletic skill, Reeves and director Chad Stahelski cut to the existential essence of a loner taking a stand against a world gone batshit crazy, a world very much like our own.

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‘Wonder Woman’

I can’t join those with a blindspot for a script that bogs down the origin story of this DC Comics female trailblazer. But I can join the chorus of hallelujahs for director Patty Jenkins and her skill at keeping focus on the spectacular Israeli actress Gal Gadot. She plays the title role with a bracing blend of physical grace and feminist fire, the kind that might just make her an Oscar contender in the Best Actress race. Why not? Female empowerment is as rarely celebrated in the comic-book universe as it is in Hollywood’s macho spin on reality. Wonder Woman, your time is now!

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