Exactly four months from today on March 2nd the 86th Academy Awards will take place, but the 2013 awards season starts in earnest today as Deadline’s 3rd Annual THE CONTENDERS event kicks off this morning at the brand new Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. It’s the meeting of a new venue and an early look at the race for Oscar that will bring members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and key guild voters to see what the studios and distributors are touting as their big contenders this year. In all 12 of those companies will each be given a half hour to showcase their wares and make their case for a slate of Oscar-worthy hopefuls that already is promising to be the strongest in years. Participating are The Weinstein Company, Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate, Focus, CBS Films, Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Walt Disney Pictures, Universal and Dreamworks Animation. Numerous directors, writers, producers, actors and below the line artists will be participating in panels presided over by Deadline’s Pete Hammond, Mike Fleming Jr. and Dominic Patten. The day long event running from 9AM to 5pm will also feature a catered breakfast and buffet lunch. And it’s completely sold out. Camera crews will be capturing it all and highlights from each presentation will be featured on Deadline, ENTV and other outlets in the weeks to come. The event is being produced by Madelyn Hammond.