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The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Films

Gods and Monsters (15)

A droll speculation on the last days of 1930s horror auteur James Whale (Ian McKellen). Director Bill Condon won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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.

Festen (15)

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

Affliction (15)

Paul Schrader's bleak study in fatherhood and fatalism stars Nick Nolte as a man struggling to escape the influence of his violent dad - James Coburn(right), in an Oscar-winning performance.

Shakespeare in Love (15)

This enjoyable, multi-Oscar winning film suggests how romance fired Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet.