|Written by||Danny Strong|
|Directed by||Jay Roach|
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||118 minutes|
Game Change is a 2012 American political drama television film based on events of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign of John McCain, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, based on the 2010 book of the same name documenting the campaign by political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The film stars Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris, and focuses on the chapters about the selection and performance of Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin (Moore) as running mate to Senator John McCain (Harris) in the presidential campaign.
The plot features a 2010 interview of the campaign's senior strategist Steve Schmidt (Harrelson), using flashbacks to portray McCain and Palin during their ultimately unsuccessful campaign. The film aired on HBO on March 10, 2012. It was well received by critics, with Moore's portrayal of Palin garnering praise. Schmidt praised the film, while Palin and McCain both stated they had no intention of seeing it.Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times described Moore's depiction of Palin as "a sharp-edged but not unsympathetic portrait of a flawed heroine, colored more in pity than in admiration." Game Change has earned many awards, including a Critics' Choice Television Award, a Directors Guild of America Award, a Golden Nymph Award, three Golden Globe Awards, a Producers Guild of America Award, five Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Writers Guild of America Award.
The film opens in 2010 with a frame story: Republican strategist Steve Schmidt is being interviewed by Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes . Cooper poses a difficult question regarding former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin: was she selected because she would make the best vice president or because she would win the election?
The story flashes back to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, which is struggling to compete with other Republican candidates during the primary season. In a desperate phone call McCain places to Schmidt, he learns about the decision to sit out the 2008 race, but McCain convinces Schmidt to reconsider.
Months later, Schmidt is serving as McCain's Senior Campaign Strategist, and with his help, McCain has clinched the Republican nomination. McCain's preferred running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman, is rejected by the majority of his senior advisers – including Schmidt – because he will not help compete with the celebrity of their opponent, Democratic Senator Barack Obama. The strategists quickly look for a "game change" candidate. The replacement must do four things: excite the conservative base, win the vote of independents, distance the campaign from the Bush administration, and close the "gender gap" – the GOP's 20-point deficit with women. Investigating prominent female Republican politicians, the campaign finds Palin, the governor of Alaska, to have the charismatic qualities they want. After an exceptionally brief vetting process, she is selected. Palin's eventual public reveal creates the buzz that Schmidt and McCain were looking for, bringing them to even or better with Obama in the polls.
While Palin's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention is well received, the campaign becomes concerned that she is ignorant about many political issues and grossly unprepared. Schmidt handles controversies from her past, such as Troopergate and "Bridge to Nowhere", while other staff attempt to fill broad gaps in her understanding of domestic and foreign politics. While prepping for the interviews, she is preoccupied with her approval ratings in Alaska and the absence of her family while campaigning, eventually becoming unresponsive to advisers who begin to question her mental state. Several prominent blunders in major interviews, such as those with Katie Couric, are a source of mockery in the media and frustration in the campaign. Overwhelmed and poorly prepared, Palin lashes back at attempts by Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace to give her a crash course on the major issues, then blames them for setting up public interviews that ultimately reveal her lack of knowledge.
The staff also comes to accept that Palin is better at memorizing and delivering lines than she is at actually understanding issues. Thus, they grudgingly prepare her for the Vice-Presidential debate by simply having Palin memorize about forty minutes' worth of talking points, which manages to get her through the debate without major incident. However, Palin's growing popularity with the Republican base, even as she alienates mainstream voters, soon overshadows the campaign; Palin becomes uncooperative, rejecting – and conflicting with – Schmidt and the rest of the campaign staff as she gains her own following. Palin, in fact, rebuffs McCain by publicly disagreeing with his decision to end campaigning in Michigan. By late 2008, with prospects appearing poor, the campaign staff boosts a negative campaign against Obama's past associations with the liberal elite, which Palin supports but McCain resists. McCain, meanwhile, becomes discouraged by the negative campaigning, watching growing hostility and vitriol emerge toward Obama among McCain's supporters. With Election Day approaching, senior campaigners express regret that Palin turned out to be style without substance, with Schmidt lamenting that they neglected to vet her competency. McCain consoles Schmidt by reaffirming that taking a risk with Palin was better than fading away.
When Obama wins on Election Night, Schmidt tries to stop a rebellious Palin from giving a concession speech along with McCain's. She appeals to McCain, who agrees with Schmidt. He tells Palin that she is now one of the party leaders and warns her not to let herself be hijacked by extremism. Rick Davis (McCain's campaign manager) comments that Palin will soon be forgotten. During McCain's concession speech, he thanks Palin, who receives enormous and sustained applause, chants, and enthusiasm from the crowd, which is noted in the faces of McCain's advisors. The film returns to the 2010 interview; regarding Cooper's question about whether he would pick Palin again if he had the chance to go back, Schmidt replies that life does not give do-overs.
The authors of the book Game Change , Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, appear in a cameo as two reporters questioning Schmidt. Actual footage from the 2008 campaign portrayed the Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden as well as numerous reporters, including Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley, Charles Gibson, and John King. At times, the film employed doubles and editing to make it appear that the actors are interacting with historical footage, such as in the presidential debate scenes featuring the real Obama, the real Wolf Blitzer, and Harris as McCain.
HBO optioned the book Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, in January 2010.In February 2011, development began with Danny Strong writing and Jay Roach directing. The two had collaborated as writer and director on the 2008 HBO film Recount , about the controversial result of the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Although Strong and Roach based the film on the part of the book dealing with the McCain–Palin campaign, they had also considered a film dealing with Obama's primary battle against Hillary Clinton – an idea ultimately dropped due to the length and complexity of that story, among other reasons. Strong said he interviewed 25 people from the McCain–Palin campaign and referenced other books and articles, including Palin's memoir Going Rogue , in addition to the book on which the film was based.
The main cast was announced in March 2011, starting with Julianne Moore as Palin, [ citation needed ] The film was also shot and produced in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The film premiered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on March 8 prior to its public debut on HBO on March 10, 2012.Ed Harris as John McCain, with Woody Harrelson, who plays McCain campaign chair Steve Schmidt, coming aboard soon thereafter. The film was primarily shot in Maryland, along with a hotel scene shot in Wilmington, Delaware.
Game Change was watched by 2.1 million people on its debut night, which marked the highest ratings for an HBO original film since their 2004 film Something the Lord Made .
Game Change received generally positive reviews, with 65% of the critics polled by Rotten Tomatoes giving it favorable reviews (based on 37 reviews), with an averaged score of 6.9 out of 10.Metacritic lists the film as scoring 74 out of 100, based on 25 reviews by critics, signifying a "generally favorable" critical response.
David Hinckley of The New York Daily News wrote, "Julianne Moore’s physical Palin in Game Change, which debuts March 10, is even more dead-on than Tina Fey's."Fey, who was noted for her physical resemblance to Palin, won an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2009 for her satirical impersonation of Palin on the sketch comedy TV show Saturday Night Live . Several excerpts from these impersonations were used in the film.
The Hollywood Reporter 's Tim Goodman wrote that the movie "boldly raises the question about whether Palin is mentally unbalanced." He called Moore's performance "virtuoso (and likely Emmy-winning)." Roger Ebert gave the movie three and a half stars. Entertainment Weekly 's Ken Tucker gave it an A−.
The Los Angeles Times wrote: "The overall atmosphere of the film is surprisingly kind to all, much more fatalistic than hypercritical and certainly not derisive. Palin's rise and fall is depicted as series of bad decisions made in relatively good faith that lead up to a hideous car crash."Newsday commented: "Moore's performance ... is superb. ... A luminous and fully alive portrait by a first-rate actress." The San Francisco Chronicle also praised the acting: "Game Change is graced by three extraordinary performances in the leading roles, beginning with Moore's portrayal of Palin, which is both complex and entirely credible." The Boston Globe wrote: "Whether “Game Change’’ is a definitive accounting of what happened, and whether some viewers will accept it as such is unknowable. But from a dramatic standpoint is the film entertaining? You betcha."
Palin herself said Game Change was based on a "false narrative" and that she did not intend to see it.The film, and the book it is based upon, have been described by John and Cindy McCain as inaccurate. Like Palin, McCain said he did not intend to see it, and took issue with the "exceeding amount of coarse language" that was attributed to him in the film. Many of Sarah Palin's campaign aides have criticized the accuracy of the film. Randy Scheunemann, who tutored Palin on foreign policy matters during the campaign, said: "To call this movie fiction gives fiction a bad name." According to her campaign staff, many had not been contacted by the filmmakers or the authors of the book on which it is based.
However, Steve Schmidt, the campaign's chief strategist, stated: "Ten weeks of the campaign are condensed into a two-hour movie. But it tells the truth of the campaign. That is the story of what happened."He later said that watching the film was tantamount to "an out-of-body experience."
Nicolle Wallace, a chief Palin 2008 aide, said she found Game Change highly credible, saying the film "captured the spirit and emotion of the campaign."Wallace also told ABC News Chief Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulos that the film was "true enough to make me squirm." Both Wallace and Schmidt have had public feuds with Sarah Palin since the 2008 campaign ended.
Melissa Farman, who played Bristol Palin, said it was never the film's intention to portray Sarah Palin in a negative light because the film was not meant to be about Palin, but about "politics at large" and what it means to be a politician in this era.
|Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Television Movie/Mini Series|| David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran, Kathleen Chopin, |
and Anne Davison
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Movie/Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries||Woody Harrelson||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries||Julianne Moore||Won|
|Golden Nymph Awards||Best Television Film||Nominated|
|Best Direction||Jay Roach||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor||Woody Harrelson||Won|
|Outstanding Actress||Julianne Moore||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Miniseries or Movie|| Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Jay Roach, Danny Strong, |
Steven Shareshian, and Amy Sayres
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie||Woody Harrelson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie||Julianne Moore||Won|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie||Ed Harris||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie||Sarah Paulson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special||Jay Roach||Won|
|Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special||Danny Strong||Won|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special||David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran, and Kathleen Chopin||Won|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie||Jim Denault||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score)||Theodore Shapiro||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie||Lucia Zucchetti||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie||David MacMillan, Leslie Shatz, and Gabriel J. Serrano||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television||Woody Harrelson||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television||Julianne Moore||Won|
|Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television||Sarah Paulson||Nominated|
|Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials||Nominated|
|Women's Image Network Awards||Made for Television Movie||Won|
|Actress Made for Television Movie||Julianne Moore||Nominated|
|American Cinema Editors Awards||Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television||Lucia Zucchetti||Nominated|
|American Film Institute Awards||Top 10 Television Programs||Won|
|Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design Award – Television Movie or Mini-Series|| Michael Corenblith, Samantha Avila, Kuo Pao Lian, |
Kenneth Roman, Francesca Gerlach, and Tiffany Zappulla
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Movies and Mini-Series||David MacMillan, Gabriel J. Serrano, Leslie Shatz, |
Chris Fogel, Travis MacKay, and Tor McAfee Kingdon
|Directors Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Miniseries||Jay Roach||Won|
|Dorian Awards||TV Performance of the Year – Actress||Julianne Moore||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film||Woody Harrelson||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film||Julianne Moore||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Ed Harris||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Sarah Paulson||Nominated|
|Gracie Awards||Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama Special||Julianne Moore||Won|
|Guild of Music Supervisors Awards||Best Music Supervision – TV Long Form (Movies and Mini-Series)||Evyen Klean and Deva Anderson||Won|
|Peabody Awards||Playtone Productions and Everyman Pictures, |
in association with HBO Films
|Producers Guild of America Awards||David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television||Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, |
Steven Shareshian, and Danny Strong
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Woody Harrelson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Julianne Moore||Won|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Long Form – Adapted||Danny Strong; |
Based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
Woodrow Tracy Harrelson is an American actor and playwright. He is the recipient of various accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, in addition to nominations for three Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards.
Julie Anne Smith, known professionally as Julianne Moore, is an American actress and author. Prolific in film since the early 1990s, she is particularly known for her portrayals of emotionally troubled women in independent films, as well as for her roles in blockbusters. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and two Emmy Awards.
Daniel William Strong is an American actor, film and television writer, director, and producer. As an actor, Strong is best known for his roles as Jonathan Levinson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doyle McMaster in Gilmore Girls. He also wrote the screenplays for Recount, the HBO adaptation Game Change, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and co-wrote the two-part finale of The Hunger Games film trilogy, Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2. Strong also is a co-creator, executive producer, director, and writer for the Fox series Empire and created, wrote and directed the award-winning Hulu miniseries Dopesick.
Mathew Jay Roach is an American filmmaker. He is best known for directing the Austin Powers film series, Meet the Parents, Dinner for Schmucks, The Campaign, Trumbo, and Bombshell.
Mark Evan Halperin is an American journalist, currently a host and commentator for Newsmax TV. Halperin previously worked as the political director at ABC News, where he served as the editor of the Washington, D.C., newsletter The Note. In 2010, Halperin joined MSNBC, becoming the senior political analyst and a contributor. Along with John Heilemann, Halperin served as co-managing editor of Bloomberg Politics. Halperin and Heilemann co-wrote Game Change and Double Down: Game Change 2012, were co-hosts of MSNBC and Bloomberg's With All Due Respect, and produced and co-starred with Mark McKinnon in Showtime's The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, which followed the presidential candidates behind the scenes of their campaigns in the 2016 United States Presidential Election.
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator, author, and reality television personality who served as the ninth governor of Alaska from 2006 until her resignation in 2009. She was the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee alongside U.S. Senator John McCain.
Nicolle Wallace is an American television host and author. She is known for her work as the anchor of the MSNBC news and politics program Deadline: White House and a former co-host of the ABC daytime talk show The View. As a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, she is a frequent on-air contributor to the programs Today, The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle and Morning Joe.
The 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain, the longtime senior U.S. Senator from Arizona, was launched with an informal announcement on February 28, 2007, during a live taping of the Late Show with David Letterman, and formally launched at an event on April 25, 2007. His second candidacy for the Presidency of the United States, he had previously run for his party's nomination in the 2000 primaries and was considered as a potential running mate for his party's nominee, then-Governor George W. Bush of Texas. After winning a majority of delegates in the Republican primaries of 2008, on August 29, leading up to the convention, McCain selected Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate for Vice President. Five days later, at the 2008 Republican National Convention, McCain was formally selected as the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 2008 presidential election.
The United States presidential debates of 2008 were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a bipartisan organization that sponsored four debates that occurred at various locations around the United States in September and October 2008. Three of the debates involved the presidential nominees, and one involved the vice-presidential nominees.
Hillaryland was the self-designated name of a group of core advisors to Hillary Clinton, when she was First Lady of the United States and again when, as United States Senator, she was one of the Democratic Party candidates for President in the 2008 U.S. election.
This article lists those who were potential candidates for the Republican nomination for Vice President of the United States in the 2008 election. On March 4, 2008, Senator John McCain of Arizona won the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States, and became the presumptive nominee.
Mark David McKinnon is an American political advisor, reform advocate, media columnist, and television producer. He was the chief media advisor to five successful presidential primary and general election campaigns, and is a co-founder of No Labels, an organization dedicated to bipartisanship and political problem solving. He served as vice chairman of Public Strategies, Inc., which was acquired by the international communications consultancy Hill & Knowlton Strategies, and was president of Maverick Media. McKinnon is the co-creator, co-executive producer, and co-host of Showtime's The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth and consulted on the HBO series The Newsroom and Netflix's House of Cards. He was a regular columnist for The Daily Beast and The Daily Telegraph (London).
Stephen Edward Schmidt is an American communications and public affairs strategist who worked on Republican political campaigns, including those of President George W. Bush, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Arizona Senator John McCain. Schmidt was the senior campaign strategist and advisor to McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. He pushed McCain to select Sarah Palin as his running mate, a choice which Schmidt came to regret.
Tucker Eskew is a political and communications strategist in the United States who served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Media Affairs and Global Communications under President George W. Bush. He joined Senator John McCain's presidential campaign in August 2008 as senior advisor and counselor to Sarah Palin. He was the founder of Eskew Strategy Group, an Alexandria-based communications firm. In 2005, he merged the Eskew Group into a new bipartisan communications firm called Vianovo.
On November 1, 2008, American vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin fell victim to a prank call by the Masked Avengers, a Quebecer radio comedy duo, who tricked Palin into believing she was talking to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. During the conversation, the fake Sarkozy, speaking in English, talked to Palin about foreign policy, hunting, and the 2008 U.S. presidential election. After it was revealed to Palin that the call was a prank, she handed the phone to one of her assistants who told the comedy duo "I will find you" and hung up.
Wayne Lee Berman is an American businessman and former lobbyist. He is the senior managing director for government relations at the Blackstone Group. He was formerly the chairman of Ogilvy Government Relations, a division of Ogilvy & Mather. Berman is considered a key figure in Republican political advocacy, serving as a senior advisor on the 2000 and 2004 Bush-Cheney campaigns, Finance Chairman of the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign, and Chairman of Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign.
Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime is a book by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about the 2008 United States presidential election. Released on January 11, 2010, it was also published in the United Kingdom under the title Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House. The book is based on interviews with more than 300 people involved in the campaign. It discusses factors including Democratic Party presidential candidate John Edwards' extramarital affair, the relationship between Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his vice presidential running mate Joe Biden, the failure of Republican Party candidate Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy.
John Arthur Heilemann is an American journalist and national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. With Mark Halperin, he co-authored Game Change (2010) and Double Down (2013), books about presidential campaigning. Heilemann has formerly been a staff writer for New York, Wired, and The Economist.
Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President of the United States was publicly announced by then-presumptive Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain on August 29, 2008. As part of the McCain presidential campaign, Palin, then the incumbent Governor of Alaska, was officially nominated by acclamation at the 2008 Republican National Convention on September 3. The McCain–Palin ticket lost the 2008 presidential election on November 4 to the Barack Obama–Joe Biden ticket.
Double Down: Game Change 2012 is a book written by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about the 2012 United States presidential election, in which Barack Obama was re-elected as President of the United States, defeating Mitt Romney. The book, published by Penguin Press, is a behind-the-scenes narrative of the Obama and Romney campaigns. It is the sequel to Game Change, which explored the 2008 United States presidential election. Double Down was released on November 5, 2013.