The Independent Recommends
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.
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.
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
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
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
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk