5 things you need to know Thursday

An Oscar statue sits on the red carpet before the 84th Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2012.

And the Oscar nominees are ….

Now that the Golden Globes — and Leo’s viral eyebrow raise — have come and gone, it’s time to gear up for the Oscars. The nominees will be announced Thursday, and while some films and stars are locks to land a nomination, there’s sure to be some heated debate over who the Academy loved and who it snubbed. The Revenant and The Martian are almost certain to be nominated, especially after their strong showing at the Golden Globes. Could this be the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally walks away the best actor award? And what will happen with blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens? The announcements begin at 8:30 a.M. ET and will stream on YouTube. Follow along live with @USATODAYLife.

Last Republican debate before Iowa caucuses.

A narrower field of Republican presidential candidates will gather Thursday night for the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. The seven leading candidates — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Donald Trump — will appear on stage together at 9 p.M. ET, live from North Charleston, S.C. The debate is hosted by Fox Business Network. There is an “undercard” debate starting at 6 p.M. ET for those who didn’t qualify for the main event. (Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he’s skipping it.).

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Amal Clooney gives her first U.S. Network TV interview.

She’s known as a highly respected international law and human rights attorney back home in Britain. She’s also known for her Hollywood heartthrob husband, George. (They married in 2014.) Now Amal Clooney is giving her first solo U.S. Network TV interview. The first part airs Thursday on Nightly News With Lester Holt, with the second to follow on Friday’s Today. Clooney is currently lobbying Congress to level sanctions against the government of the Pacific island nation of Maldives over political prisoners.

First forum in ‘One Nation’ series looks at energy.

The USA TODAY Network’s “One Nation” series kicks off Thursday in Des Moines with a forum on the future of energy in the United States — a pivotal issue in the 2016 presidential race. The forum, hosted by USA TODAY and The Des Moines Register, is one of 10 events in different cities on topics shaping next year’s presidential election. The Des Moines event will aim to answer the questions: What’s the next-next thing in energy that will power our homes, businesses and cars 10 or 20 years from now? How do we get there? What’s holding us back? Learn more about the series and upcoming events here.

Another crucial test for SpaceX rocket boosters​Less than a month after a historic landing, SpaceX aims to test-fire the engines of the Falcon 9 rocket booster Thursday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On Dec. 21, the booster touched down 10 minutes after liftoff, completing the first return to Earth intact under its own power of a rocket that had boosted a payload to orbit. The test on Thursday would be an important demonstration of the feasibility of reusing such boosters, which SpaceX believes is critical to lowering launch costs.

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Bonus: Thursday is National Dress Up Your Pet Day, and our readers’ furry friends have never been more in style. How dapper is your pet? Tweet a photo of your pet to us @yourtake or post one to the Your Take Facebook page.

And the essentials:.

Weather: Another storm will roll into the West on Thursday, bringing rain to coastal and valley areas and heavy snow to the mountains.

Stocks: U.S. Stock futures were mixed Thursday, while global markets sank following sustained weakness in oil prices and a dive on Wall Street.

TV Tonight: Not sure what to watch tonight? TV critic Robert Bianco looks atAngel from Hell, Shades of Blue and Colony.

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