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 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
How to read Will Self: Unlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in September 2014
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain