The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Films

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Gods and Monsters (15)

A droll speculation on the last days of 1930s horror auteur James Whale (Ian McKellen, right), who is magnetised by the form of his gardener (Brendan Fraser). Director Bill Condon won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Pleasantville (12)

Two Nineties teenagers are "sucked" into the world of a favourite Fifties sitcom and begin to exert a dramatic influence on its conformist black- and-white idyll. A witty parable about prejudice and change.

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, Oscar-winning study in fatherhood and fatalism stars Nick Nolte as a man struggling to escape the influence of his violent dad - James Coburn (Best Supporting Actor).

Shakespeare in Love (15)

This enjoyable, Oscar-laden historical romp suggests how romance fired Shakespeare with the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow (Best Actress) head an impressive cast.