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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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'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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Richard Gere as a schlubby Jewish 'fixer'? Absolutely, if given enough time to get into his skin

In Richard Gere’s latest film, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” released earlier this year, Israeli writer and director Joseph Cedar lends Gere perhaps his most profound role yet: Norman Oppenheimer, a New York Jewish businessman who connects parties together for profit. The veteran actor inhabits the role with much vulnerable nuance and potent skill.

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As Billie Jean King's lover, Andrea Riseborough wanted to embody the free spiritedness of the era

It isn’t necessarily reflective of the roles she’s played to date, but Andrea Riseborough says she’s always been “quite politicized.” In fact, CNN was running in the background blasting whatever breaking news was occurring on the hour during our mid-morning conversation a few weeks ago.

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