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January 25, 2017 at 07:43 PM EST

Once a year, Entertainment Weekly gives its coveted cover spot to a little inanimate fellow who’s 13-inches tall and weighs about eight pounds.

And for good reason. That golden Oscar statuette can transform careers, add millions of dollars to a movie’s box office gross, get a film distributed around the world, and alter the course of film history. That’s why we devote literally dozens of pages in our annual Oscar nominations double issue to all the information you need to know in anticipation of this year’s sweepstakes.

Our expansive Oscars coverage includes profiles of all the major categories, including the films, directors, and all 20 of the acting nominees. Damien Chazelle’s dazzling musical La La Land, EW’s #1 movie of the year, leads the pack with a record-tying 14 nominations, matching the haul of Titanic and All About Eve. We focus on that film’s incredible talent pool — plus go deep on Moonlight, Arrival (both nabbed 8 nominations), Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester By the Sea, and Lion (all with 6) — while also reserving ample space for actors who represent their movie’s sole nomination, such as Loving’s luminous Ruth Negga, Nocturnal Animals’ growly Michael Shannon, Captain Fantastic’s endearing Viggo Mortensen, and Elle’s French powerhouse Isabelle Huppert. And then of course there’s the inimitable Meryl Streep, scoring her incredible 20th nomination for the comedy Florence Foster Jenkins.

For more on this week’s cover story, watch EW The Show, available now here, on the new PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

Also every year at Oscar time, we glance backwards with several retrospective pieces about the Academy Awards’ past. In recent years we’ve featured an oral history of Best Picture winner Ordinary People and long profiles of past Best Actress winners Glenda Jackson and Olivia de Havilland. Included in this special issue:

• OSCARS SO RIGHT: After two years of all-white acting nominees, the Academy changed its policies. Many more people of color were acknowledged this year — seven actors and one director — but the battle for greater inclusion is far from over.
• THE MUSICAL THAT CHANGED MOVIES: 65 years before La La Land, Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly’s An American in Paris shattered the mold, won Best Picture, and changed the course of Hollywood history. We look back at a musical classic — one that was a huge influence on this year’s Oscar frontrunner.
• THE DARK SIDE OF “YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE”: Forty years ago, it was the unstoppable love ballad which topped the charts and then won the Oscar for Best Original Song. But buried beneath the sweetness lay the seeds of horrible crimes.
• OSCAR BALLOT: You can begin handicapping how to win your office Oscar pool right now.

For more on the Oscars, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, or buy it here now. And don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Charles Masters for EW; AMPAS

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