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
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
- 4 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
- 5 #AskNigelFarage: Twitter starts hilarious Q&A for Ukip leader
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are