Film: The Five Best Films

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The Independent Culture
Happiness (18)

Set in New Jersey, Todd Solondz's second film is a comedy of loneliness and sexual deviancy that reaffirms this young writer-director's talent. See review, right

Festen (15)

Danish director Thoman Vinterberg's superlative black comedy concerns the 60th birthday of a family patriarch, who finds himself at the centre of the dark secrets that unexpectedly emerge.

Pleasantville (12)

Two Nineties teenagers are magicked into the world of a favourite 1950s sitcom, and begin to exert a dramatic influence on its conformist black-and-white idyll. A witty parable about prejudice and change.

Gods and Monsters (15)

An Oscar for Best Screenplay went to this droll speculation on the last days of 1930s horror auteur James Whale (Ian McKellen), who is hypnotised by the alluring form of his gardener (Brendan Fraser).

Shakespeare in Love (15)

This enjoyable historical romp suggests how romance fired the young Will Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow head an impressive cast.