The official awards season is underway.  You may not feel like it is because there are plenty of questions of films, qualities, and festival announcements on the horizon but the chess pieces are being positioned by studios, PR firms, and awards strategists.

We are in the thick of the Emmy Awards Phase 2 campaigns where we may be in the middle of a historic outcome slated for Sept. 22 in Downtown Los Angeles.  HBO’s “Game of Thrones” leads the tally with 32 nominations, the most for any show in Emmy history.  Looking at the Academy Awards, the natural comparison of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” by writer/director/producer Peter Jackson, has been an example pundits have cited as reasoning why the show could break its own record of most wins for a series in a single year at 12.

When it came to Jackson’s historic win of 11 Oscars in one night, tying the record with “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic,” the film swept all its categories in which it was nominated.  The HBO show, which garnered a divisive reception from its fans in its final season, cannot mathematically achieve such a feat.  With multiple nominations in single categories, no one is expecting numerous ties.  But the question is, how many can “Game of Thrones” actually win?

Peter Dinklage in “Game of Thrones”

In the latest Emmy Prediction updates on The Circuit Hub, which is currently just predicting the significant categories, the show is sitting in the top spot for Drama Series, Supporting Actor (Peter Dinklage), Supporting Actress (Lena Headey), Writing (“The Iron Throne”), Directing (“The Iron Throne”), and Guest Actress (Carice Van Houten).  Expanding to the Creative Arts Emmys, which happens over two nights on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, the series is expected to easily win categories such as Visual Effects, Cinematography, Casting, Sound Editing, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, Main Title Design, and Sound Mixing without blinking.  Looking to earnestly contend in Hairstyling, Makeup, Single-Camera Picture Editing (for either), and Stunts, the show can walk into the televised ceremony already breaking the record.

It’s not always that simple.

This Is Us” from NBC, “Better Call Saul” from AMC, and “Killing Eve” from BBC is ready to pounce and take advantage of those who were not on board with the “mother of dragons-turned-evil-villainess” this season.

Searching for those Merrit Wever-type wins, they are always hard to pinpoint.  Bob Odenkirk will have to fight off Billy Porter (“Pose”) in Lead Actor (Drama) while Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) hopes to snag her first Emmy over current champ Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”).  On the Comedy side, Bill Hader (“Barry”) hopes to fight off Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) while a dynamite Lead Actress race hopes to either see history made with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) or a brand new shining star emerges like Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) or Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”).

And then we look at the movies.

Going into our 8th month of the year, it’s been very, VERY quiet on awards buzz with movies already released, and ones that are coming down the pike.  If the Oscars were held today, which film would walk away with Best Picture?

Just opening to positive reviews, and the biggest opening of the director’s career, you can say “Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood” from Quentin Tarantino would be something that the Academy would gobble up.  Held today or not, the Oscars are likely going to embrace it heavily in multiple categories.  I think Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are viable contenders to win their respective races as well.

Avengers: Endgame” is now the highest-grossing film of all-time WORLDWIDE.  Lots of pundits believe you have to “follow the money” when looking for the awards contenders, but that has never helped Marvel before.

Paramount Pictures is hoping to mimic the “Bohemian Rhapsody” play with “Rocketman,” but mixed reviews may keep some at a distance, but it’s safe to still count on it in technical races such as costumes, makeup, and sound mixing.  Taron Egerton will also hope to propel a sure-fire nomination at the Golden Globes in the Comedy or Musical race into a Best Actor bid.

Olivia Wilde‘s “Booksmart” is one of the big hits of the year, just getting a re-release in theaters.  There will be loud drums for the film all year long, and you can count on votes in the top category, but it’s going to be in the thick of the Original Screenplay race.

Wilde won’t be the only woman vying for the top category as “The Farewell” from Lulu Wang is making money and taking names.  172 reviews and counting on Rotten Tomatoes, the family drama is still sitting at 100%.  Original Screenplay may seem like the more “achievable” get but look for critics to try to sneak into the as many majors as possible including Best Actress for Awkwafina and Supporting Actress for Tzi Ma.

Awards season will give vote siphoners that are getting love in specific races but are also looking to expand beyond it.

Toy Story 4” is looking great for Animated Feature, but Score, Song, and Picture will be in the campaign from Pixar.  Julianne Moore will hope to for love for “Gloria Bell” while “Us” will either be specific for Lupita Nyong’o or go for more.

AladdinWalt Disney Pictures will be heavily behind their three live-action remakes this year, “Dumbo” from Tim Burton, “Aladdin” from Guy Ritchie, and “The Lion King” from Jon Favreau.  “Dumbo” will be lucky to find a path into production and costumes while “The Lion King” looks to capitalize on the one agreed upon positive point of the film, which is its visuals.  “Aladdin” stands the greatest chance to break out into several races.  Production and Costume Design seem like no-brainers while “Speechless” is an excellent way to reward the film in Original Song if “Frozen 2” doesn’t steal their attention.  Expect the studio juggernaut to also put some money behind Will Smith, who may find a pathway in Supporting Actor (if that will be where he ultimately goes).

Looking ahead, Venice, TIFF, and New York are making their announcements for the fall festival run.  Telluride is still a secret, but you can figure out many of its screenings based on the labeling at the other respective festivals.

We’re keeping close eyes on a few studios to make some waves in the coming weeks.  Netflix has already nabbed the first two big spots at NYFF with Martin Scorsese‘s “The Irishman” and Noah Baumbach‘s “Marriage Story.”  Scorsese’s film is going to be a big focus, and with the trailer set to drop on Wednesday, the streaming studio has already been doing the work to let the industry know that this is going to be HUGE.  Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, in particular, will look to emulate Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson two years ago in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” with double doses in Supporting Actor.

Marriage Story” will be trying to mirror the adult-drama contenders of the past like “Ordinary People” and “Manchester by the Sea.”  Said to be Baumbach’s most personal film to date, we need to pay very close attention to Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver to dominate in the lead races while Alan Alda and Laura Dern are said to be two actors that will be hard not to vote for when everything is said and done.  Alda is fresh off his Lifetime Achievement award at SAG while Dern just delivered once again in the second season of “Big Little Lies.”  We’re paying attention.

Netflix will also push “The Laundromat” from Steven Soderbergh, a rumored hilarious comedy that could give Meryl Streep another Oscar nomination in Supporting Actress while “The Two Popes” will have two masterclass actors on screen, Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, who hope to make their marks in the acting races.  At this point, Hopkins will be making his play in Supporting Actor while Pryce will try his hand in Lead Actor, alongside a hopeful Eddie Murphy from “Dolemite is my Name” from Craig Brewer.

There will be plenty to mull over, but there’s plenty of time, and rumors get anyone’s attention at this time of the year.  Let’s see when it all drops.

Check out the newest Oscar Predictions on the Circuit Hub, with the breaking news regarding category switches to be reflected on Monday, August 5.

Where do you see the Emmy and Oscar races at this point?  What are you predicting? Comment below!