By EW Staff
Updated January 21, 2015 at 05:00 PM EST
Credit: KEATE for EW; Oscar: AMPAS

Gold hardware on the cover means only one thing: It’s that time of year again. In our annual Oscar double issue, Entertainment Weekly plunges into all the prize-fighting and politics with 40 pages of coverage on one of the richest races in years. Inside you’ll find profiles on all the competitors in the major categories—from 19-time nominee Meryl Streep for Into the Woods to the nine first-time entrants, including Birdman’s Michael Keaton. His movie tied The Grand Budapest Hotel with a pack-leading nine nominations, but in our snapshot of how the Best Picture race looks—right now—we see them both, along with The Imitation Game and hard-charger American Sniper, trailing slightly behind the quiet frontrunner, Boyhood. But there are no sure things. One look at Oscar history shows that anything could happen between now and the telecast on Feb. 22.

Oscar missed out on its chance to make history this year by not nominating Selma director Ava DuVernay, who would have become the first black woman recognized in that category. DuVernay herself predicted the omission last month, as she reveals in our feature story on the controversy around Selma’s poor performance in the nomination tally. And we address the criticisms directed at the Academy over the lack of diversity in this year’s lineup, which is the first all-white roster since 1998.

Also in this issue:

FUN FACTS: Trivia about each nominee and stats in each category. Three acting nominations in a row is a feat achieved by only a handful of actors, notably Marlon Brando and Al Pacino—but which actor did it this year? Do you stand a better chance winning Best Supporting Actor playing a dad or a brother?

THE ORIGINAL RED CARPET BITCH: Before Joan Rivers and Kathy Griffin, the legendary Mr. Blackwell terrorized Hollywood with his annual worst-dressed list. A tribute to the man who ripped dresses.

OSCAR JOBS: We went through the 865 performances nominated for best actor and actress since 1928 and analyzed which characters’ professions were honored most. One thing we found out: It pays not to work.

THE LAST STAR: Two-time Oscar-winner Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving star of Gone With the Wind, talks intimately about her career and vows, at 98, to live at least a century.

OSCAR BALLOT: You can begin handicapping how to win your office Oscar pool right now.

For more on the Oscar race—plus our expert Grammy Award predictions—pick up this week’s issue of EW, on stands Friday.