The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Films

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The Thin Red Line (15)

Terrence Malick returns to the screen after a 20-year absence with a hugely ambitious film (right) about the battle of Guadalcanal. A war movie of a sort, though what that sort might be is uncertain.

Life is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella) (PG)

Roberto Benigni directs and stars in this tragicomic fable about an Italian Jew who tries to shield his boy from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp by pretending that it is an elaborate game.

Shakespeare in Love (15)

This enjoyable romp suggests how romance fired Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow head a multi-star cast.

A Bug's Life (U)

Less sophisticated and more child-friendly than Antz, this animated feature spins an enjoyable yarn about an ant colony and its battle to survive. Kevin Spacey provides the voice of the chief grasshopper.

Affliction (15)

Paul Schrader's bleak study in fatherhood and fatalism, adapted from Russell Banks's novel, stars Nick Nolte as a man struggling to escape the influence of his violent dad (James Coburn).