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The Independent Recommends

The Five Best Films

A Simple Plan (15)

Cult horror director Sam Raimi makes a dramatic entry into the mainstream with this chilling, snowbound thriller about a $4m windfall that brings nothing but ill. Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton star.

Happiness (18)

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

Best Laid Plans (15)

Brit director Mike Barker's first American movie neatly rolls a warped love story and a blackmail thriller into one, and features strong performances from Alessandro Nivola and Reese Witherspoon.

Orphans (18)

Peter Mullan's darkly comic tale of four siblings and a funeral movingly captures the emotional stresses of bereavement over the course of a storm- tossed Glaswegian night.

I Am Cuba (PG)

This amazing epic poem to the Cuban revolution of the late 1950s is a beautiful and stirring slice of agitprop cinema (right), imaginatively filmed and framed by the Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov. Barbican, London

Anthony Quinn

The Five Best Plays

The Winter's Tale (Lyric Hammersmith, London)

Declan Donnellan directs the Maly Theatre Company of St Petersburg in the first production by a non-Russian ever to win a Golden Mask award at the Moscow Theatre Festival. To 29 May

Copenhagen (Duchess Theatre, London)

Michael Frayn's haunting piece about science, morality and the mysteries of human motivation. To 7 Aug

The Cosmonaut's Last Message... (Lyric Studio, London)

David Greig's dryly comic and beautifully structured meditation on the difficulties of communicating in a world of instant communication. To 29 May

Small Change (Haymarket, Basingstoke)

Beautifully acted revival of Peter Gill's splendid 1976 play (right), set in post-war Cardiff. Brave programming. To 29 May

Oroonoko (The Other Place, Stratford)

There's political indignation but a refreshing lack of political correctness in Biyi Bandele's powerful and witty dramatisation of 17th-century writer Aphra Behn's humane look at the slave trade. To 6 Oct

Paul Taylor

The Five Best Shows

Jackson Pollock (Tate Gallery, London)

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

Thinking Aloud (Camden Arts Centre, London)

Sculptor Richard Wentworth curates this curious and cheering exploration of creativity: an assortment of rough drafts, doodles, try-outs and models (right). To 30 May

ESP (IKON Gallery, Birmingham)

Contemporary artists investigate the paranormal in this weird group show, including Susan Hiller's frightening and wonderful video installation about the psychic powers of children. To 13 Jun

The Pleasures of Peace (Brighton Art Gallery)

"Mid-Century Craft and Art in Britain": an alternative cultural-history show. Pots, furniture, textiles and jewellery, from wartime olde Arcadian revivalism to Sixties psychedelia. To 20 Jun

Shape of the Century (Salisbury Festival)

One hundred years of British sculpture - and they're all here: Epstein, Gill, Moore, Hepworth, Caro, Frink, Long, Kapoor, Gormley, Whiteread. To 19 Aug

Tom Lubbock