The acclaimed screenwriter and director Alexander Payne has directed the Academy Award winning films “Sideways”(2005) as well as “The Descendents”(2012); both films won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Payne, who has been nominated for the Oscar 19-times, graduated from Standford University in 1984 and then from the UCLA Film School in 1990. The list of well-known films he has directed also includes “About Schmidt”, “Election”, and “Nebraska”. He is most recently teaming up again with the acclaimed actor Paul Giamati (they previously worked together on “Sideways”) in a new film production titled “The Holdovers”.
The scripts for Payne’s films are often character-driven and focus upon the ups and downs of ordinary life. They are also often comedic and light-hearted in tone. “Sideways”, for instance, was a comedy, based on a bestselling novel, about two friends who go on a wine-tasting trip through the vineyards of California. Likewise, this new film in production, “The Holdovers” is about a group of characters stuck in a boarding school during a winter break in 1970. Throughout these films’ scripts, Payne often incorporates various social and political satire, accompanying real-world episodic comedy. This formula has won Payne numerous accolades from the entertainment community, as he has been nominated three times for Best Director Oscar.
Alexander Payne says he has been told he’s never made a bad film, which is pretty remarkable considering the recent climate in the movie industry. His approach to filmmaking is not to rigidly adhere to a script but rather to regard it more as an outline. He also often favors multiple takes for a given scene and does not believe in “one-hit wonders”. Does Payne’s slow, meandering yet methodical formula work for movies? Judging by the box office returns, the future for this resilient director looks bright.