To celebrate the release of Mike Leigh's historical epic 'Peterloo', we've curated a selection of the director's finest work, offering an insight into British life past and present. For the last four decades, Leigh has been rightly feted as one of Britain's finest filmmakers. Often working with a regular ensemble of actors, his organic approach to making a film – developing an idea in extensive rehearsals then writing a shooting script based on the scenes developed in them – has produced critically acclaimed works that run the gamut from family comedy ('Life is Sweet') and Cannes-winning drama ('Secrets and Lies') to reflective character study ('Another Year') and historical biopic ('Mr. Turner'). Leigh's intuitive approach produces intimacy whilst retaining a distance necessary to critique the worlds he examines. Critics frequently focus on the performance and dialogue in his films, but Leigh's collaboration with cinematographer Dick Pope – they have worked together since 1988 – is no less essential. The bright colours accentuated in 'Happy-Go-Lucky' reflect the sparky nature and optimism of Sally Hawkins' character, while the darker palette of 'Vera Drake' informs its bleak tale of a woman doing good on the wrong side of the law. And in 'Mr. Turner', arguably Leigh and Pope's most accomplished film up to 'Peterloo', the world of J.M.W. Turner comes thrillingly to life – a vibrant canvass of richness associated with the painter's work, upon which Leigh and lead actor Timothy Spall create a magnificent, spellbinding and characteristically unique portrait. Image: Simon Mein, 2018

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