Despite the prominence of Conservative supporters in the awards list, David Cameron's party has insisted the process of deciding honours remains independent

David Cameron accused of cronyism over New Year Honours list

Award recipients include long-serving MPs and Tory party donors

House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou faces fine for having 'too many children'

Acclaimed director admits to having three children breaching China's one-child policy

Julia Roberts was asked to remove two freckles for a movie role

Julia Roberts asked to have 'dirty' freckles removed for film

The actress was once advised to get rid of her facial markings for a movie role

Ned Vizzini: Writer

Author whose accounts of his battles with depression gave hope to young people who were similarly afflicted

Indyplus Video: The news in 2013

2013 - the year in review: In the arts, it was a year of revelations and rediscoveries

Rarely has the creative landscape comprised such a colourful mixture of past and present. Alice Jones looks back on 12 months of astonishingly timeless artistic vibrancy

2013 - the year in review: The best films of the year

Blue Jasmine

Look back in awe: The horticultural hits of 2013

Gardeners have a habit of going on about their planting disasters, instead of celebrating their successes, says our green-fingered correspondent...

The season three finale of Game of Thrones was illegally downloaded 5.9 million times

Game of Thrones season finale was the most pirated TV episode of 2013

The closing show of Netflix hit Breaking Bad was a close runner-up

The poster for Kung Fury on David Sandberg's Kickstarter page

Wacky trailer for new action comedy Kung Fury released on Kickstarter

There are vikings, mutants, dinosaurs and nazis in this 80s-inspired project

Cate Blanchette, Sally Hawkins, and Andrew Dice Clay in a scene from the Woody Allen film, 'Blue Jasmine'

The best films of 2013

The Independent’s film critic selects his favourite films of the year

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there