THE FIVE BEST FILMS

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The Independent Culture
1

Gods and Monsters (5)

A droll speculation on the last days of 930s horror auteur James Whale (Ian McKellen), who is magnetised by the form of his gardener (Brendan Fraser). Director Bill Condon won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

2

Happiness (8)

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. Imagine Parenthood remade by David Lynch.

3

eXistenZ (5)

David Cronenberg plunges deep into the grotesque in this futuristic tale of a computer-games designer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) on the run from a fatwa. Dark, comical, not for the squeamish. See New Films, left.

4

Festen (5)

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

5

Shakespeare in Love (5)

This enjoyable - and now Oscar-laden - historical romp suggests how romance fired the young Will Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow (Best Actress) head an impressive cast.

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