Alexander Payne The Realist
Writer and director Alexander Payne is no stranger to depicting real life issues and themes in his movies. His style has often been described as quirky, surrounded with dark humor. His first film to hit the box office was Citizen Ruth which focused on the issue of abortion. While this film made a statement, it didn’t receive a warm welcome with most audiences. Later on, Alexander Payne experienced greater success with Election in 1999. This movie caused quite a splash with the actor Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. Other works that are worthy of attention include About Schmidt in 2002 and Sideways in 2004. Sideways was nominated 7 times at the Oscars. It’s clear that Alexander Payne is no stranger to receiving awards and nominations as his next film, The Descendants in 2011 earned him the Best Screenplay Oscar. The Best Adapted Screenplay was later awarded to Payne for his part in producing Downsizing which starred Matt Damon.
All of his films share a common theme of showing true “real life.” He examines uncomfortable situations and uses wit and satire to portray them. Human drama is experienced by all of his characters and they often go through a fight or flight decision in the films. A memorable quote by Payne was when he said “I’m most moved by stories like Sideways that are about human beings and human nature, that are about flawed people and ambiguous moments that don’t necessarily come to any neat closure.” This is true of any film that has been directed by him.