Her forthcoming Marvel film aside, director Chloe Zhao has focused twice on poverty-level, hand-to-mouth protagonists who are stuck in a no-way-out situation.

The Rider (’17) was about Brady, a former rodeo star who’s been told he can’t ride any more due to having suffered traumatic brain damage. The poor guy has nowhere to go, and the film, primarily a mood-and-atmosphere piece, ends on a note of resignation. In Nomadland (Searchlight, 12.4), which is debuting this Friday at three festivals simultaneously, Frances McDormand‘s Fern is stuck in an itinerant, job-to-job lifestyle, driving from place to place, barely hanging on. Heavy load, hard row, no rest for the weary, handsomely shot, quietly moving.

A Nomadland teaser was released this morning. Seemingly aimed at blogaroos, tastemakers and critics, it says “this film is not about narrative propulsion…it’s basically another Rider… an award-season hothouse flower…naturalistic tone, realistic downish mood, the refuge of the road.”