The 5-Day Oscar Countdown: 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Frozen

If you're down to the wire with your Oscar prep, here's your daily crash course in what to see and where

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Francois Duhamel / Fox Searchlight

Neglected the most critically acclaimed movies of the year? Can’t tell your Lupita Nyong’o from your June Squibb? Fret not! The 86th Academy Awards telecast doesn’t air until Sunday, Mar. 2, so there’s still time to become an Oscars expert — and you can pull it off in five days.

Here’s a breakdown of what to watch in the theater, on your couch at home, and this very minute.

Watch in Theaters: 12 Years a Slave


The astonishing, nearly flawless 12 Years a Slave has already won the BAFTA for Best Film and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, so go ahead and make it your top priority. As a piece of history, Solomon Northup’s story demands your attention. As a piece of art, Steve McQueen’s film commands it. It’s unmissable, unforgettable, and probably unbeatable.

Watch at Home: Dallas Buyers Club


Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto gave two of the most talked-about and awarded performances of the year in Dallas Buyers Club, a standard – though effective – crowdpleaser about a homophobic man (McConaughey) and his unlikely business partner (Leto) who are diagnosed with HIV in the early days of the epidemic. As is the case with most biopics, differences between the film’s characters and their real-life counterparts have been much-discussed, but that probably won’t stop the Academy from handing statues to its two leads. Watch it from the comfort of your home this week so no one can see you cry.

Watch Right Now: “Let it Go” from Frozen


“Let It Go” is the standout track from Disney’s biggest hit in years, and one of the only true locks in this year’s Oscar race. After enjoying Idina Menzel’s original version, check out some of the countless covers currently flooding the Internet. I still think the Academy made an enormous error by not nominating Lana Del Rey’s “Young & Beautiful,” but if any other song has to win, let it be this one.