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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), who is hypnotised by the alluring form of his Beverly Hills gardener (Brendan Fraser). Director Bill Condon won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Happiness (18)

Set in New Jersey, Todd Solondz's second film is a dark comedy of loneliness and sexual deviancy that reaffirms this young writer-director's talent.

The Faculty (15)

Kevin Williamson does it again with this sci-fi tale (right) of alien invaders. Beautiful people, a sharp script, subversive morals, Piper Laurie... Why can't all teen films be like this?

High Art (18)

A portrait of the artist as lesbian screw-up, Lisa Cholodenko's bitterly witty take on New York living (and dying) boasts one of the performances of the year from Ally Sheedy.

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.