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What's the state of this year's wide-open Oscar race? Let's examine further.

At this point in December — after the first wave of film critics’ groups have named their winners and the voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and the Screen Actors Guild have announced their nominations — those of us who follow such things have usually been granted a measure of clarity about the state of the Academy Awards race.

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Did the Golden Globes and SAG Awards noms help clarify the best picture Oscar race?

“The Shape of Water” cleaned up with Golden Globes nominations. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” led the field among the Screen Actors Guild Awards nods.

What does this mean for this year’s wide-open Oscars race?

Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

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'Stronger' writer digs for the truth behind a hero's pain and uncovers the love story beneath

My first big studio job as a screenwriter was to write the story of Jeff Bauman, a Boston local who became an unwitting symbol of hope after losing both legs above the knee in the Boston Marathon bombing. Coincidentally, he is from Chelmsford, Mass., about a half-hour from where I grew up.

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'Wonderstruck' strikes a powerful chord for production designer Mark Friedberg

For production designer Mark Friedberg, the most fun part of working on the film “Wonderstruck” was going behind the scenes at the American Museum of Natural History in his hometown of New York City.

“That place always fascinated me,” he said. “I loved the art museum, but the Natural History museum — there was something about that place that was always special to me at every stage of my development.”

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With a recent spate of King George VI portrayals, Ben Mendelsohn makes the role his own

Perhaps more popular in death than in life, King George VI has been portrayed a myriad of times on film, television, the stage and even radio, most recently by Oscar winner Colin Firth in 2010’s “The King’s Speech,” James Purefoy in this year’s fine feature, “Churchill,” and Jared Harris on the acclaimed Netflix series “The Crown.”

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'Shape of Water,' 'Dunkirk,' 'Blade Runner 2049' look to clean up in the crafts categories

The last two Oscar best picture winners — “Spotlight” and “Moonlight” — managed to win the academy’s top prize without taking any trophies in the crafts categories. Both movies did, however, pick up the key nomination for film editing, traditionally a signal of a picture’s overall strength.

This year, “The Shape of Water,” “Dunkirk” and “Blade Runner 2049” will likely dominate the crafts categories.

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