Alexander Payne: One of Hollywood’s’ Most Accomplished Directors and Screenwriters

Alexander PayneFilmmaker Alexander Payne has a penchant for writing stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. He wants to tell stories where the protagonist is faced with problems that are compelling and complex but that could feasibly happen. “I want to watch and make movies about people and the mysteries of the human heart,” the filmmaker said.

The Academy Award-winning director has an impressive history of moviemaking. His 2004 film Sideway and his 2011 film The Descendant both garnered Academy Awards. In 2017, Metacritic ranked him second on the list of twenty-five best film directors of the 21st Century.

His movies include Citizen Ruth (1996),I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), About Schmidt (2002), Downsizing (2017), and Nebraska (2013). He has developed a reputation for dark comedies where complex and often contradictory emotions are examined. His characters are flawed but always relatable. Payne places his characters in satirical situations that reflect the modern world. He disagrees with those who say that characters must be likable for the audience to enjoy the film. On the contrary, Payne believes that the only thing that matters is that the character is memorable and interesting.

Alexander Payne states that he prefers movies from the silent era on into the ’70s. Among his favorites are the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times from 1936, the Akira Kurosawa-directed Seven Samurai from 1954, and the Sam Peckinpah-directed Wild Bunch from 1969.

Alexander Payne In looking back over his career, Alexander Payne reflects that time has taught him resilience. When he is presented with a problem on his current film project, he knows that he has faced and overcome similar problems in the past with creative ease. He says that this knowledge gives him a “sense of efficiency” which allows the project to flow with minimal stress.

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