Alexander Payne, the Academy Award-winning director for the 2004s film Sideways and the 2011s film The Descendents, as well as Academy Award-nominated director for Election, About Schmidt, and Nebraska, has produced only 8 feature films since his beginning as a director of feature films at the age of 35. And although Alexander Payne has been lauded everywhere, both with Academy Award nominations, Golden Globe Nominations, and British Academy film awards, oddly, Alexander Payne still thinks of himself as a film student.
By that, he means that he has learned the fundamentals of directing and writing a great screenplay but at the same time, every project is as fresh to him as a beginning film student.
One thing is for certain, Alexander Payne has found his niche in films. Avoiding cliches like superhero movies, Alexander is the king of dark comedies.
Also, unlike many directors who favor rom-com comedies, Alexander favors dark comedies because he wants his films to be funny but at the same time filled with the frustrations and dark chords of life that inevitably show up in real life.
Alexander says that it is the dark tones of his comedies that make his films “pop” into the viewer’s consciousness as having the essential element of truth that makes his films noteworthy.
As a director, Alexander says that writing the correct screenplay is by far the toughest of his challenges and that when he writes he rarely has a specific actor in mind for the roles he eventually casts.
Nevertheless, Alexander does have a major quality that he insists on, one that keeps filmmaking fresh for him consistently, and that quality is the fact that they love the filmmaking process as much as he does.
Therefore, actors such as Paul Giamatti who absolutely loved making Sideways with Alexander and who jumped at the chance to work with Alexander on his new film, the Holdovers.
Paul Giamatti is the type of actor that Alexander craves for his movies and over the years he has managed to cast some of the very best including Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson, George Clooney, Bruce Dern, and Matt Damon.
With that kind of mindset, expect more great films from Alexander who will be a “go-to” director for many years.