Among Entertainment Weekly contributors in the ’90s, the general rule was that a trend story needs three examples. Find three and you’re good. Hence a trio of 2020 and ’21 award-season contenders — Paul Greengrass‘s News of the World (Universal 12.25), George Clooney‘s The Midnight Sky (Netflix, 12.23) and Eduardo Ponti‘s The Life Ahead (Netflix, now streaming) — sharing a basic character-plot strategy.

A crusty, grizzled protagonist of advanced years and pracarious positioning (Clooney’s Augustine Lofthouse, Tom Hanks‘ Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, Sophia Loren‘s Madame Rosa) is suddenly responsible for the well-being of an anxious, distant, shell-shocked youth who needs someone to provide comfort and direction and a bit of love.

The three kids, respectively, are played by Caoilinn Springall, Helena Zengel and Ibrahima Gueye.