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The Five Best Films

Gods and Monsters (15)

A droll speculation on the last days of 1930s 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.

Pleasantville (12)

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

Festen (15)

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's superlative black comedy (right) centres on the 60th birthday of a family patriarch who finds himself at the heart of dark secrets that unexpectedly emerge.

Affliction (15)

Paul Schrader's bleak, Oscar-winning study in fatherhood and fatalism stars Nick Nolte as a man struggling to escape the influence of his violent dad - James Coburn (Best Supporting Actor).

Shakespeare in Love (15)

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

Anthony Quinn

The Five Best Plays

Good (Donmar Warehouse)

Starring Charles Dance, CP Taylor's play about accommodations with conscience is revived in an immaculate and sensitive production by Michael Grandage. To 22 May

Gross Indecency (Gielgud Theatre, London)

The artfully fractured form of Moises Kaufman's compelling play about Oscar Wilde manages to present the writer - man and symbol - in all his complex contradictoriness. Booking to 5 Jun

The Late Middle Classes

(Palace Theatre, Watford)

The fruitful collaboration between Simon Gray and Harold Pinter continues with the latter's production of Gray's dark comedy, set in Fifties England. To 10 Apr

Volpone (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

Comedies don't come any funnier or more astringent than Ben Jonson's brilliant dissection of avaricious, over-reaching egotism (right). To 9 Oct

Troilus and Cressida (Olivier, NT, London)

This play and this theatre are made for each other, a fact proved by the masterly sweep of Trevor Nunn's production. To 19 May

Paul Taylor

The Five Best Shows

Jackson Pollock (Tate Gallery)

Big, revelatory retrospective for the wild hero of Abstract Expressionism (going on Old Master), legendary for his great drip paintings, but virtually unknown here for 40 years. To 6 Jun

Portraits by Ingres (National Gallery)

Some of the smartest, most intense portraiture ever (right). Men as icons of power; women as exquisite melanges of flesh and fabric. To 25 Apr

Henri Michaux (Whitechapel Gallery)

He travelled. He wrote. He took drugs. And, inspired by grief and mescalin, he created amazing, wobbly bobbly wibbly scribbly fine-grain line drawings. To 25 Apr

Andreas Gursky (Dean Gallery, Edinburgh)

Photographs 1994-98: huge, panoramic, high-finish, micro-detailed, digitally- manipulated images of our world - stock-exchange floor, cityscape, hotel foyer. Vistas of more than the eye can see. To 16 May

Aubrey Beardsley (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

The short and brilliant career of the 1890s aesthete and illustrator, with his masterful blacks and whites and his uniquely sinuous, florid line. To 11 Apr

Tom Lubbock

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