The 5-Day Oscar Countdown: American Hustle, Nebraska and the Her Score

Get all caught up with the movies that require your attention most urgently this Oscar season

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Francois Duhamel / Copyright © ©Columbia Pictures

The 86th Academy Awards are bearing down upon us, with the telecast airing Sunday, Mar. 2, but it’s not too late to clear out your schedule and get a quality education in the year’s best films.

Here’s your daily Oscar cheat sheet with what to watch in theaters, at home and right now so you’re nicely prepped for Sunday’s show.

Watch in Theaters: American Hustle

David O. Russell began his film career making wonderful indies like Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, and I Heart Huckabees — critical darlings, but never Oscar frontrunners. It wasn’t until 2011’s The Fighter that we were introduced to Russell 2.0: the man who can do no wrong. Last year’s Silver Linings Playbook followed (and brought Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar), and American Hustle continues the director’s confounding streak. Hustle is a sneaky movie — loud and vibrant, but devoid of real feeling. If any movie is going to beat 12 Years A Slave for Best Picture, it’s going to be this one. See it on the big screen to decide for yourself whether or not we’re all just being conned.

Watch at Home: Nebraska

Nebraska is a gentle surprise in this year’s Oscar race. Though it received six nominations, it will likely just miss most of them. But even though Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong’o, and Spike Jonze will likely win over Bruce Dern, June Squibb, and Bob Nelson, I predict Nebraska will have a long shelf life. It’s a beautiful little movie, and one you’ll feel comfortable recommending to just about anyone. So rent it at home, then tell all your friends how much you loved it.

Listen Right Now: Arcade Fire’s Her score

The Best Original Score Winner is a close race, but the most important score to pay attention to is Arcade Fire’s Her. It’s a rare, haunting piece of orchestration, and the only entry among the nominees that feels truly special. It’s streaming online now.