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Awards Race Shaping Up for Below-the-Line Talent

Artisans account for 10 of the Academy’s 17 branches. Yet most Oscar handicappers tend to focus on the best pic and/or acting races.

Those pundits don’t know what they’re missing. For one thing, the artists are often more fun to talk with than the stars. More important, this year’s craft races have already seen some strong contenders, with many more to come.

Some films seem like heavyweights in several production and post-production categories (e.g., Sony’s upcoming WWII actioner “Fury”), while others will probably excel in a more limited space (e.g., the design work in Fox Searchlight’s period drama “Belle”).

Here’s a small sampling of films that seem like contenders for multiple artisan awards.

Already opened: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (Fox); “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Godzilla” (Warner Bros.); “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Searchlight); “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Disney/Marvel); “Maleficent” (Disney); “Noah” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (Paramount).

Coming in the next five months: spectacles such as “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (Fox); “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Warner Bros.-New Line-MGM); “Interstellar” (Paramount); and work from stylish directors: “Birdman” (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Searchlight); “Gone Girl” (David Fincher, Fox); “Inherent Vice” (Paul Thomas Anderson, Warners); “Into the Woods” (Rob Marshall, Disney).

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