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Earthquake Bird is a psychological drama that boasts a compelling lead performance from Alicia Vikander, left, as a troubled translator.

Murray Close

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.

Earthquake Bird, Netflix: If there is one studio dominating the awards-season discourse this year, it’s Netflix. The streaming giant has a handful of the year’s most favoured contenders – The Irishman, Marriage Story, The Two Popes – and is pushing them accordingly. The company’s latest production, Earthquake Bird, is not getting such an Oscars-friendly push. There is no headline-making effort to screen it in theatres, and absolutely zero Earthquake Bird swag being sent to Academy Awards voters. Which makes sense, given Wash Westmoreland’s Japan-set film is small in scale and ambition. But it doesn’t mean it should be completely ignored, either, as the psychological drama boasts a compelling lead performance from Alicia Vikander, and makes the most out of its Tokyo filming locations. Based on the novel by Susanna Jones, the film follows an ill-fated love triangle between a troubled translator (Vikander), an intense photographer (Naoki Kobayashi) and naive waitress (Riley Keough) in 1989 Tokyo. With lesser stars and a more restrictive budget, Earthquake Bird could have been a soft-core Shannon Tweed/Steven Bauer film from the early nineties. But Westmoreland’s cast ups the game a few notches. Just don’t expect this one to crowd your Oscars pool.

Wendy and Lucy, Ovid.tv: If you should somehow find yourself in need of another streaming service in your life, then you might want to check out OVID.tv, which offers hundreds of films that the service says are “largely unavailable on any other platform.” The selection seems to favour more indie-focused and direct-to-video work, but one gem worth the hassle of signing up for a free seven-day trial is Wendy and Lucy, Kelly Reichardt’s 2008 drama that is now regarded as something of a modern classic. In just less than 80 minutes, the writer-director delivers a powerful drama about America’s economic anguish, delivered through a story about a young woman’s search for her missing dog. Michelle Williams plays one half of the title characters, a young woman living out of her car en route to Alaska for the vague promise of employment. After she stops with pet Lucy in a near-deserted Oregon town, the pair’s unstable situation breaks down completely, allowing Reichardt to take subtle stabs at her country’s decaying society. The film recalls the early work of Gus Van Sant and, even though it was made more than a decade ago, its central theme remains cruelly prescient.

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Jeremy Clapin’s I Lost My Body is a tender tale of love and loss.

Netflix

I Lost My Body, Netflix: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A severed hand comes to life in a Parisian lab and goes in search of its former body and ... hey, where are you going? Before you make any assumptions, Jeremy Clapin’s animated film is not an exercise in gross body-horror, nor is it a French spinoff of The Addams Family franchise. Instead, the new animated film is a tender tale of love and loss. Having played to an enthusiastic reception at Cannes’ Critics Week this past spring, the French film should be receiving a larger push from Netflix than it currently is, only if to prove that the 2019 animated landscape isn’t all Frozens and Secret Lives of Pets. Clapin’s tale isn’t necessarily for the youngest audience in your home, but it is for anyone looking to get a hands-on (sorry) lesson on where the animation industry could be heading, were we to be so lucky.

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