Credit: HBO

Now that British series are routinely being mixed in with traditional miniseries in the Emmys Outstanding Miniseries or Movie category, these shorter-season shows from across the pond have been winning statues over their American nominees. (Last year, Downton Abbey won over several HBO offerings, including Mildred Pierce and Too Big to Fail.)

Sherlock is certainly a viewer favorite, and we’d be thrilled if the quirky Arthur Conan Doyle update scored the Emmy. But there’s some stiff competition, between FX’s American Horror Story and fellow Brit series Luther. However, the biggest threat comes from HBO’s Game Change, and the movie, which chronicles John McCain’s campaign after it chose Sarah Palin to be the Senator’s running mate, has a lot going for it. Here’s why we think Game Change will win the 2012 Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

Credit: HBO

Truthiness 
Director Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong adapted John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book, Game Change, and Strong did his due diligence, conducting additional interviews for more material. Heilemann and Halperin were criticized for not revealing their sources, but Strong (who may be better known as Jonathan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or as Paris’s boyfriend on Gilmore Girls) told NPR, “No Democrats were consulted in the making of this movie.”  

Maybe that’s why the film feels so real. Interspersing actual footage of Katie Couric asking Sarah Palin which newspapers she reads with moments we never got to see (like the McCain campaign's delight when Palin improvs that famous lipstick line differentiating hockey moms and pitbulls) makes Game Change appear as a more credible look at what took place behind the scenes. And Palin’s Mama Grizzly moments are softened by the crowds’ reactions to her as she hugs a man with Down Syndrome, telling him she's glad to see how handsome her own son Trig will grow up to be. 

Though some aides in Game Change show concern that Palin is mentally unstable, the movie’s main point isn’t an expose of the former Alaska governor's incompetence — it ultimately indicts the American political system at large. Toward the end of the movie, campaign manager Rick Davis (Peter MacNicol) tells chief strategist Steve Schmidt that America will never elect another Thomas Jefferson; all the nation wants is a super star. 

For the record, both Palin and McCain said they wouldn’t see the film.

Transformations 
While Ed Harris did a fine job portraying John McCain, he was never the star of this movie, much like the presidential nominee became relegated to the sidelines once Sarah Palin stepped into the limelight. Julianne Moore does a masterful yet subtle job of capturing Palin’s cadence, demeanor, and look (and she only does the wink twice!). Where Tina Fey’s performances as Palin were caricatures, Moore brings empathy to the role. 

Moore told Deadline, “She [Palin] was under a tremendous amount of pressure and in a completely untenable situation. … The woman never stopped working, trying to memorize and learn things, and be in… You know, she simply didn’t have the time or the experience, really.” The actress also pointed out that Palin and Tina Fey’s impression of her were so fresh in the public’s minds that it added an extra layer of challenge to her portrayal. But Moore wasn’t playing Palin for laughs, and it showed in her performance. 

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks must be a good luck charm because all four of the miniseries he’s executive produced since 1998 have won the Emmy in this category, including Band of Brothers and John Adams. Guess which Emmy-nominated TV movie Hanks has an EP credit on this year? Yep. Game Change. Somehow, we doubt his winning streak will come to an end this year. 

The Odds
If you head over to Gold Derby, the betting site has Game Change’s odds of winning at 27/20, better than any of the other nominees. Just in case you’re hoping to win that office pool...

This year’s nominees for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie: 
American Horror Story (FX)
Game Change (HBO)
Hatfields & McCoys (History)
Hemingway & Gellhorn (HBO)
Luther (BBC America)
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (PBS)

Who do you think will win the 2012 Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie? 

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