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Booksmart is at many moments funnier than Superbad.Francois Duhamel/The Associated Press

Before you turn on your television, iPad, or laptop this weekend and drown in options, The Globe and Mail presents three best cinematic bets that are worth your coveted downtime – no commute to the movie theatre required.

Fast Color

Crave: The year has been filthy with superhero movies and arguments about superhero movies, but what would happen if someone actually made a good one – and it was all but ignored? Julia Hart’s low-budget Fast Color never made its way to Canadian theatres, but the sci-fi thriller is far more inventive than anything pumped out of the Marvel Studios factory floor. If you’re tired of watching Robert Downey Jr. stretch his smirk to the breaking point, take comfort in seeing Gugu Mbatha-Raw figure out a way to deliver a superpowered performance that’s grounded, not grating.

Holiday movie guide: Reviews of films opening through the end of December


Amazon Prime Video: Olivia Wilde’s high-school comedy was greeted as something of the second coming -- a feminism-forward Superbad, finally! -- when it was released this past spring. But when audiences didn’t arrive in Superbad-sized crowds, the conversation drifted away from whether the film was funny or not. It is! Quite a bit. And, at many moments, more so than Superbad, thanks to intensely committed performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as two friends who spend their last night as high schoolers shaking off their straight-arrow reputations. Hopefully the film will find an eager fan base in the streaming world, months removed from online expectations.

American Made

Netflix: For obvious reasons, I’m a sucker for any film in which the protagonist is named Barry (an exceedingly rare occurrence). But the sort-of-true tale of drug-running pilot Barry Seal deserves a spot here for more than appealing to my vanity: the comedy-action film is a rollicking journey into the criminal underworld, with a frenzied and frantic energy courtesy of leading man Tom Cruise. As Cruise’s cocky Seal double- and then triple-crosses everyone from the CIA to Pablo Escobar, the star delivers an increasingly paranoid and wild performance, while director Doug Liman ensures every single scene is visually explosive. The pair, who last teamed up for the delightfully stupid Edge of Tomorrow, don’t always succeed in their aesthetic and narrative tricks, but the end result is one of the most purely watchable mainstream studio films of 2017. There’s no better time than the holidays to discover the overlooked gem.

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