“Game Change” (HBO)
Highlight: The deft combination of real footage of the Katie Couric interview of Sarah Palin with the dramatization of Julianne Moore’s performance, combined with intercut moments of the McCain campaign watching the broadcast, is bristling and worrying.
Sidelight: Perhaps no other movie has run the gamut of what life in hotel rooms can suggest: conspiracy, personal freedom, defeat and crushing loneliness.
“Hatfields & McCoys” (History)
Highlight: Though patriarchs Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton) and Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) can walk by each other silently at an Election Day celebration, their hotheaded kinsfolk make the feud visceral, violent and fatal that day.
Sidelight: Romania’s Carpathian mountains make for a dazzlingly picturesque Appalachia of misty hillsides and deep forests.
“Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)
Highlight: Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) is staying at the same hotel as Hemingway (Clive Owen) to cover the Spanish Civil War — and during a terrifying bombing raid, they finally succumb to an unspoken passion for each other.
Sidelight: Archival footage from the era and black-and-white scenes shot for the movie were combined to recreate the period, rather than constructing CGI backgrounds.
“Luther” (BBC America)
Highlight: A grainy video feed set up by a Punch-masked killer across the street from a rowhouse depicts his latest random killing, while Luther (Idris Elba) and his team can only watch, helpless.
Sidelight: Knowing who the killer is generates a different kind of procedural suspense not unlike “Columbo” — how is Luther going to piece it together in time?
“Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia” (PBS)
Highlight: Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is stymied by the appearance of a nude Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), whose lack of clothing prevents the detective from sizing her up psychologically with a visual inspection.
Sidelight: Words printed onscreen in the margins reveal Sherlock’s thoughts or the contents of text messages without the need for narration or shots of cellphones.
Weide keyed to subjects’ needs
And the nominees are:
Comedy | Drama | Minis & Movies | Variety | Nonfiction