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The Five Best Films

The Third Man (PG)

A front-runner for the greatest-film-of-all-time award. Carol Reed's thriller leads us around post-war Vienna, through which slithers Orson Welles's smirking racketeer.

West Beirut (15)

Involving rites-of-passage debut from former Tarantino collaborator, Ziad Doueiri, all played out in a divided-up, war-riven Beirut. A vibrant and authentic-looking walk on the wild side.

Last Night (15)

Don McKellar's warm, witty, oddly intimate meditation on the end of the world as we know it (right). Genevieve Bujold crops up as the sort of French teacher you always wished you'd had.

It All Starts Today (12)

A French Blackboard Jungle, delivered in hard-ball, high-minded fashion by writer-director Bertrand Tavernier, and a timely reminder of how impoverished political film-making has grown of late.

Ten Things I Hate About You (12)

Armed with a TV director, rookie screenwriters and an untried cast, Ten Things... plays Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew as a high-school comedy, and gets away with it.

Xan Brooks

The Five Best Plays

The Merchant of Venice (Cottesloe, National, London)

With the magnificent Henry Goodman as Shylock, Trevor Nunn's 1920s-style production finds a rich complexity in a play too often simplified on the stage. In rep to 11 Sept

Floyd Collins (Bridewell Theatre, London)

Floyd Collins represents a giant leap forward for musical theatre. The slightly dodgy production has knock-out performances from Nigel Richards and Craig Purnell. To 31 Jul

Look Back in Anger (Lyttelton, National, London)

Five tremendously alert performances make this revival of Osborne's iconic play (right) completely riveting. A production of enormous subtlety and power. In rep to 11 Sept

The Family Reunion (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

A masterclass in electrically incisive verse-speaking from Greg Hicks, who gives utter credibility to the Furies-haunted Harry in Adrian Noble's skilful revival of this rarely performed TS Eliot play. In rep to 7 Oct

Noises Off (Theatre Royal, York)

The second act, set backstage during a performance of a tired sex farce, is one of the funniest things ever written. To 31 Jul

David Benedict and Paul Taylor

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. To 5 Sept

Joseph Beuys (Royal Academy, London)

Beautiful and mysterious: 456 drawings using blood, fat, pencil and gold leaf, offer clues to Beuys's mythology. To 16 Sept

Helen Chadwick (Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield)

Photographic pieces of nature, death and pleasure from Chadwick's short career - animal skins, flowers, embryos and unexpected fluids (she used chocolate and Windolene). To 28 Aug

Notorious (MoMA, Oxford)

One hundred years after his birth, Alfred Hitchcock lives. This group show looks at his legacy in art (right), with the likes of Douglas Gordon, Cindy Sherman and Atom Egoyan. To 3 Oct

W Eugene Smith (Dundee Contemporary Arts)

Retrospective of an American photojournalist with an increasingly campaigning eye: see the terrible images of industrial poisoning victims in Japan. To 27 Aug

Tom Lubbock