You know the feeling: Your friends are all talking about the Oscar nominees and you have nothing to offer… because you haven't seen any of them. Now everyone's got their picks for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress — and you've got crickets. But there is hope! You can still skip FOMO, avoid random guessing for the choose-the-winners ballot at the viewing party, and not drain your bank account at the multiplex.
Strategy #1: This is the easiest -- check out what is already released on Redbox or available to stream. This will cost you between $1.50 and maybe $5 or so for the newer movies online. But some of these services (like Google Play and Vudu) will frequently send out promo codes for free movies. Therefore, check your email often and you might be able to download for free. Redbox has all of the nominees ready for you to reserve today.
Strategy #2: If it's not available to rent, but it can be purchased (Amazon and Verizon have been doing this lately), this may be an annoyance but it's not a deal-breaker. Have a friend or two over (you know, the ones who have also missed all the movies) and split the cost between you. A $15 movie then becomes about $5 each, which isn't nearly as tragic.
Strategy #3: If it's still in the theater, check out the early bird showings at your local movie house. Cinemark and AMC offer significantly discounted tickets at some locations for the first show of the day (it's $6 in my area). Also, some of the picks that came out around the holidays may be in second-run theaters now, which are typically a lot more affordable.
Strategy #4: AMC also offers a discounted pass to see all of the Best Picture nominees. You can do one or two days (the second option is more discounted). It appears that this runs you $65 (for two days) and that you can get $10 in bonus bucks if you belong to their member program.
Strategy #5: This one is a little more limited, but if you happen to be friends with a person who is on a film nominating committee (Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, or Academy of Motion Pictures for the Oscars), that person probably gets lots of what are known as "screeners". These are advance copies of movies that are in consideration for awards. Bake your friend some cookies and ask if you can pleeeeeeeeease come over and watch while they are viewing to determine their vote. And did you mention that you'd be bringing cookies?
Strategy #6: If all else fails, watch the trailers (YouTube or Hulu), read the articles in Entertainment Weekly online (free), then mostly stay quiet, nod knowingly, and act like you really thought last year's nominees were so much better. You'll be amazed at how many people will go along with your seemingly knowledgeable and well-informed (ha!) opinion.
And anyway, there's always next year.