The evening of the Academy Awards is one of those arbitrary, easy reasons to have people over, cook a few dishes, let your guests scuff up your floors, and be forced to clean up the mess by yourself at the end of the night — sans a few dollars and with a dirtier apartment and the inevitable humorless letdown of watching a movie like Crash take Best Picture. Luckily, New Yorkers live in a city rife with far better places to be and far less irritating things to do. It helps that this year more than ever, it’s easy to have a decent time on the cheap, and watch the show on a screen (or twelve) ten times the size of your boob-tube at home. We’ve dug up the best parties going down Sunday night; all we ask is that you don’t forget your ballot, and your Nate Silver-endorsed cheat sheet with it.
10. Loreley (Lower East Side) – Both free and German — if you’re into that — Loreley is projecting the ceremony on big screens and dishing out German beers and authentic German food with what’ll probably amount to a pretty easy ballot pool to roll through. Get in and take ’em for all they’re worth. 9. Village Pourhouse (West Village) – The most frat-tastic, straight Oscar party you could hit; 24 different screens to watch the show on. Lots of beer to toast when Mickey Rourke accepts his award, brah. 8. Butter (Nolita) – Out Magazine-sponsored party with an optional $45 prix fixe dinner that typically goes for $100, and free vodka drinks from 7-8 during red carpet arrivals. 7. Southern Hospitality (Upper East Side) – JT’s (former?) restaurant’s got some decent specials going on for those who want to “Cry (Him) A River” during acceptance speeches: $8 Coors Light pitchers, 2-for-1 margaritas, and a few food discounts ($5 fried pickles, $10 nachos, a $29 BBQ platter meant to be shared). The place has 14 HD TVs and a huge projection screen; this might be the one place you won’t be at a loss for sightlines. 6. Professor Thom’s (East Village) – Do something for somebody else — proceeds from Prof. Thoms shindig’ll be going to benefit The 4th Annual Orchard Project, supporting New York City theaters. Early-purchase tickets are cheaper and worth the splurge, as there’s an open bar from 7 p.m. through 9 p.m. 5. Le Poisson Rouge (Greenwich Village) – Free admission to this awesome space will have it full, fast, so get there early. The show’ll get projected on a 12-foot jumbo screen; games (ballots, bingo, etc.) will be going on during the proceedings for free drinks. $35 will buy you a “Curious Case of Dale’s Pale Ale” (12 cans), $25 will score you a “Slumdog Bucket of Rolling Rocks” (12 cans). 4. Monkey Town (Williamsburg) – The Billyburg dining destination’s doing an awesome seafood prix fixe — the only catch being a $30 minimum on all attendees. If you want in, RSVP early. Starts at 7:30, and it’ll be hard to get in via walk-in after that. 3. The Reeler/Spout’s Oscar Party @ Dip (Murray Hill) – Knowledge junkies’ hotspot: Spend the night with a bunch of in-the-know film bloggers from Spout and The Reeler at a bar. You’re almost totally guaranteed to leave this place with a far better understanding of the movies and the night’s proceedings than you would anywhere else. Also: fondue! 2. Comix (Meatpacking District) – A free party you just need to RSVP for, they’ll be showing the ceremony on the multiple big screens scattered throughout the place, with resident comics riffing on the proceedings. They’re also serving up “specialty” dishes like the “CalaMarlee Matlin.” Genius. Requisite ballots and Oscar trivia will be in play for prizes. 1. Joe’s Pub (Nolita) – Without question, this is going to be the most fun (and easily the funniest) bash in town, as it typically is. Wiseass TG comic Murray Hill and his merry band of friends do their Oscar party for the 8th time, now, this time with guests like Kenny Mellman (one half of infamous downtown duo Kiki & Herb) and Bridgett Everett (who collaborated on her solo show with Mellman) doing Oscar songs of past and present between Hill’s sets. Expect a costumed, drunk, ruckus-causing group of attendees to get into the spirit of what’s sure to be a distraction-packed night.