The 5-Day Oscar Countdown: Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Great Beauty

There's still plenty of time to become an Oscars expert. Start by watching these three things

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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

If you’ve been sleeping on the year’s most critically acclaimed films, there’s no time like the present to get caught up on the movies that have audiences atwitter this Oscar season.

In anticipation of the 86th Academy Awards telecast on Mar. 2, here’s your daily Oscar cheat sheet of what you can watch in theaters, at home and right here and now so you sound like someone who actually knows what they’re talking about by Sunday night.

Watch in Theaters: Gravity

Its odds for Best Picture are slim, but Alfonso Cuaron’s record-breaking 3D thriller is a shoo-in for Best Director and a handful of technical wins. While it’s still in theaters, pay extra for 3D (or even more for IMAX if one is nearby), and experience Gravity on the largest screen you can find. This is the most immersive 3D movie ever released, and watching it at home would prevent you from experiencing something truly groundbreaking — something that will leave you, well, breathless. (Sorry.)

Watch at Home: Captain Phillips

There’s a good chance that Captain Phillips will end Sunday night without a single award, but its dark horse status in the technical categories — combined with the fact that it’s just a great piece of moviemaking — make it essential home viewing. Tom Hanks doesn’t have much of a shot at taking home Best Actor, but it’s a sheer joy to see him return to the kind of challenging role that won him his first two.

Watch Right Now: The trailer for The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty isn’t playing at many theaters around the country and won’t be released on DVD or digitally until late March, so if you’re unfamiliar, just watch the trailer. In just two and a half minutes, you’ll be able to respond to its all-but-inevitable win for Best Foreign Language Film with sage comments like, “Ah yes, the Italian one.” No one will be the wiser.