The Independent Recommends
Get Carter (18)
Mike Hodges's gangland picture retains a seedy allure, thanks to bleak locations, spare dialogue, and a performance of near-heroic unpleasantness from Michael Caine.
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, Bridget Fonda and Billy Bob Thornton star.
Set in New Jersey, Todd Solondz's second film (right) 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.
The Five Best Plays
The Real Thing (Donmar Warehouse, London)
Tom Stoppard's witty, thoughtful disquisition on love looks even better now than in 1982, helped by an immensely attractive and subtle performance from Stephen Dillane. To 7 Aug
Holy Mothers (New Ambassadors Theatre, London)
Blocked lavatories and a last-minute beheading are on the menu in this extravaganza of bad taste (right) by Werner Schwab, Austria's answer to Joe Orton. To 3 Jul
Money (Olivier, National Theatre, London)
The courtship scene between Roger Allam's misery-guts and Patricia Hodges's witty aristo is not just the funniest stretch of this fine revival of Bulwer-Lytton's Victorian comedy; it's the most amusing thing on the London stage. To 15 Sept
Volpone (Swan Theatre, Stratford)
Comedies don't come funnier or more astringent than Ben Jonson's dissection of avaricious egotism. To 9 Oct
Oroonoko (The Other Place, Stratford)
There's political indignation but a refreshing lack of political correctness in Biyi Bandele's powerful dramatisation of 17th-century writer Aphra Behn's look at the slave trade. To 6 Oct
The Five Best Shows
Rembrandt by Himself (National Gallery, London)
The self-portraits. The first and most searching autobiography in paint. The great pictorial statements of honesty and mortality, of the human depths. Thirty paintings. To 5 Sept
Morandi and His Time (Estorick Collection, London)
Mr Twentieth-Century Still Life: 19 of his table-top pictures (right), with their close but tense families of bottles, jugs and pots - plus work by contemporaries. To 19 Sept
Shape of the Century (Salisbury Festival)
One hundred years of British sculpture - and they're all here: Epstein, Gill, Moore, Caro, Hepworth, Frink, Long, Kapoor, Gormley, Whiteread. To 19 Aug
Presence (Tate Gallery, Liverpool)
Figurative Art at the End of the Century: from a monumental Lucian Freud nude to Ron Mueck's giant, super-real model of a gawky girl in a swimsuit. To 5 Sept
John Coplans (Dean Gallery, Edinburgh)
Portrait of the artist as a fat old naked man? Coplans' photo-tableaux of close-ups of his body present flesh beyond classification, vulnerable and monumental. To 25 Jul
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader