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The Five Best Films

The Thin Red Line (15)

Terrence Malick returns to the screen after a 20-year absence with a hugely ambitious film about the battle of Guadalcanal. A war movie of a sort, though what that sort might be is uncertain.

Life is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella) (PG)

Roberto Benigni directs and stars in this tragicomic fable about an Italian Jew who tries to shield his boy from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp by pretending that it is an elaborate game.

Shakespeare in Love (15)

This enjoyable romp suggests how romance fired Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. Joseph Fiennes (right) and Gwyneth Paltrow head a multi-star cast.

A Bug's Life (U)

Less sophisticated and more child-friendly than Antz, this animated feature spins an enjoyable yarn about an ant colony and its battle to survive. Kevin Spacey provides the voice of the chief grasshopper.

Affliction (15)

Paul Schrader's bleak study in fatherhood and fatalism, adapted from Russell Banks's novel, stars Nick Nolte as a man struggling to escape the influence of his violent dad (James Coburn).

Anthony Quinn

The Five Best Plays


(Duchess Theatre, London)

Michael Frayn's profound and haunting meditation on science, morality and the mysteries of human motivation. To 7 Aug


(Royal Court at The Ambassador's, London)

So you thought that the comic fascination of a mass-production bakery in 1970s Hull was somewhat limited? Richard Bean's delightfully funny play (right) proves you wrong. To 6 Mar

Oklahoma! (Lyceum Theatre, London)

Widely regarded as the best ever, Trevor Nunn's glorious production of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic fully deserves its West End transfer. To 26 Jun

The Winter's Tale (RSC, Stratford)

An amazingly rich and complex performance from Antony Sher in Gregory Doran's Romanov-style production. In rep to 4 Mar

Hushabye Mountain

(Gardiner Arts Centre, Brighton)

Dying of Aids and living with Aids: Jonathan Harvey's witty, sad and uneven new play looks at the disease in two eras. 3-6 Mar

Paul Taylor

The Five Best Shows

Monet in the 20th Century (Royal Academy)

He lived until 1926. The gardens and lily ponds at Giverny dissolve into elemental visions: fiery lights, haze, liquid reflections, voids and depths. The strange last works of Impressionism. To 18 Apr

Portraits by Ingres (National Gallery)

Some of the most intense portraiture ever. Women: exquisite melanges of flesh and fabric, dreams of sex and money. To 25 Apr

Patrick Caulfield (Hayward Gallery)

The modern-object world made luminous (right). Caulfield is a virtuoso of many styles, and this retrospective offers the range - notably, those fat, laconic outlines flooded with translucent colour. To 11 Apr

Peter Doig & Udomsak Krisanamis

(Fruitmarket, Edinburgh)

Two painters collaborate. Doig's sizzling, curdling, overloaded landscapes mix with Krisanamis's collages of cultural detritus and noodles. To 27 Mar

Aubrey Beardsley

(Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Drawings, prints and posters from the short and brilliant career of the 1890s aesthete and illustrator, with uniquely sinuous, florid line. To 11 Apr

Tom Lubbock