The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Films

Festen (15)

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's superlative black comedy concerns the 60th birthday of a family patriarch who finds himself at the centre of dark secrets that unexpectedly emerge.

The Thin Red Line (15)

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

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).

Shakespeare in Love (15)

This enjoyable romp suggests how romance fired Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. With a multi-star cast.

Pleasantville (12)

Two Nineties teenagers are magicked into the world of a favourite Fifties sitcom and begin to exert a dramatic influence on its conformist black-and-white idyll. A witty, inventive parable (right).