Heading to the cinema this weekend? Here's a round up of the best of what's on show movie-wise around the country.

Jackie *****

Director: Pablo Larraín

Starring: Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig

Natalie Portman is outstanding in this touching and intimate portrayal of public and private grief. 

The assassination of US President John F Kennedy in Dallas in November 1963 is one of the defining moments of the 20th Century, but for his widow it was – obviously – much more than that. It defined her life and took away her husband's.

This film, the first in English by Chilean director Pablo Larraín, flits between the before and after of that moment, as seen through the prism of the president's wife/widow, the eponymous Jackie. As a result, Portman is a permanent presence, and often in close-up. That's tough on an actor but Portman never falters with an inspiring, often subtle performance.

In a word: Oscars! 

For full review click here.

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Lion ****

Director: Garth Davis

Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Sunny Pawar, Abhisek Bharate, Rooney Mara

Garth Davis' deeply moving directorial debut Lion is about as uplifting as a film can get, without ever feeling emotionally manipulative.

This remarkable true story is based on Saroo Brierley's book A Long Way Home, which details his journey from becoming tragically separated from his family as a young boy in India, to being adopted by a loving Australian couple and, astonishingly, reunited with his birth mother a quarter of a century later.

Despite some minor flaws (it does meander a bit at times), there's much to love here. Most of all the heartfelt performances from the all-round excellent cast and the perfectly executed cinematography, which captures the intensity of teeming Calcutta in the film's suspenseful opening section, as well as many striking sweeping shots of Australia and India, mirroring Saroo's persistent Google Earth search.

For full review click here.

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Split ****

Director: M Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Kim Director

M Night Shyamalan's 2017 offering is the best thing he's done since the turn of the century's Unbreakable. If you've griped about the lack of January chill factor, then Shyamalan and his superb leading man James McAvoy may be able to oblige.

With the briefest of build-ups, their film flings us right into a kidnap crisis as three teenagers find themselves locked in a room. And they never know who's going to come through the door...

For McAvoy, this is a gloriously taken opportunity to get some serious distance from his iconic role as Professor-you-know-who, and it would be an awful pity if there weren't a few things on the mantelpiece to honour his work here. Seriously, this is an actor at the top of his game, flipping all the switches when it comes to the audience's emotions.

For the full review click here.

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage *

Director: DJ Caruso

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette, Samuel L Jackson

Sticking out like a hammer-smashed thumb during awards season, xXx: Return of Xander Cage sees Vin Diesel reboot the franchise that no film fan was really that arsed about seeing again. 

It's now 15 years since the colossus of charisma and The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen teamed up for the fun-if-forgettable story of an adrenaline junkie-turned-secret agent and 12 years since 'no scowl too surly' star Ice Cube took over for the substandard sequel. Did you hear the count-the-days clamour for a third movie in the meantime? Not just us, so. 

Few, if any, cinematic experiences in 2017 will be as crushing as seeing Toni Collette slumming it here as a CIA boss. Suddenly thesps taking the superhero shill feels as noble as treading the boards in Stratford-upon-Avon.

For the full review click here.

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Also still showing:

La La Land ****

Director Damien Chazelle's wonderfully whimsical story acts as a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood musicals and tips its hat to everything from Singin' in the Rain to Casablanca.

In an age of remakes and reboots, 31-year-old Chazelle, the writer/director behind the Oscar-nominated Whiplash, reminds us why we go to the movies.

Click here for the full review.

Manchester by the Sea *****

Manchester by the Sea manages to do the seemingly impossible. It is a deeply moving study of coping with abject grief, yet it is not profoundly grim. Director Kenneth Lonergan's understated, nuanced film is quietly devastating, while also finding moments of surreal humour in the everyday.

The film hangs on Casey Affleck's portrayal of taciturn Lee, which could so easily have been lifeless. Instead, his nuanced and yet effortless performance hints at deep emotions bubbling under the surface as he silently grapples with hidden demons.

Click here for the full review.

Live By Night ***

Three weeks in to 2017, two long-awaited movies to file under 'decent but disappointing'. First it was Martin Scorsese's hyped-to-Heaven missionary epic Silence and now we have Live by Night, Ben Affleck's take on Dennis Lehane's must-read crime thriller.

Chronicling the rise to power of WWI veteran Joe Coughlin (Affleck) from Boston stick-up man to Prohibition era kingpin down in Florida, Live by Night has a great story - all about fate and family, luck and loyalty. From Brendan Gleeson (Coughlin's father) to Sienna Miller (the femme fatale) and Chris Cooper (the compromised police chief in the Sunshine State), Affleck has cast it perfectly as he tries to summon the same good-bad-guy-or-bad-good-guy greatness as The Godfather however it all feels a bit rushed.

Click here for the full review.

Still not enough there? Then head to our Movie Review page for a round up of all the best that's in the cinema at the moment.