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Filmmaker Alexander Payne is responsible for such critically acclaimed films as Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011) and Nebraska (2013).
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Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1961, director and screenwriter Alexander Payne studied filmmaking at the University of California, Los Angeles. Not long after graduating in 1991, he made his first feature film, Citizen Ruth (1996). Payne then looked at high school politics in Election (1999). Three years later, he returned to the big screen with About Schmidt, starring Jack Nicholson. More critically acclaimed films soon followed,
"My point of reference is what would happen in real life, not what would happen in a movie. I can't stand that something must be made more beautiful to be worthy of being photographed on 35mm film going at 24 frames per minute."
including Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011) and Nebraska (2013).
Born on February 10, 1961, in Omaha, Nebraska, filmmaker Alexander Payne is known for such critically acclaimed film as Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011) and Nebraska (2013). His mother was a college professor and his father ran a restaurant. While his parents hoped he would join a respected field, such as law or medicine, Payne graduated from Stanford University with degrees in history and Spanish literature.
After university, Payne attend the University of California, Los Angeles' prestigious film school. From the very beginning, he aspired to become a director. Payne created The Passion of Martin for his thesis at UCLA and graduated with his M.F.A. degree in 1990. The following year, his film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, where earned raves.
For his first feature film, Payne sought out the comedy in controversy. He explored issues related to abortion in Citizen Ruth (1996) with Laura Dern as the film's star. In addition to directing the movie, Payne also wrote the screenplay with Jim Taylor.
Changing direction, Payne turned his satirical eye to politics in Election (1999), an adaptation of a novel by Tom Perrotta. Reese Witherspoon stars an overachieving Omaha high school student out to win class office, and Matthew Broderick is one of the school teachers in this critically acclaimed comedy. Again working with Jim Taylor on the script, Payne and his co-writer picked up an Academy Award nomination for their screenplay.
Payne also received mostly positive reviews for his examination of aging in About Schmidt (2002). In the movie, Jack Nicholson stars as a Nebraskan actuary coping with retirement. He is soon faced with the death of his wife, played by June Squibb, and he must find his way on his own. The film is adapted from the Louis Begley novel of the same name.
Stepping away from his usual Midwestern setting, Payne picked up his first Academy Award for his California wine country comedy Sideways (2004). He and frequent writing partner Jim Taylor won best adapted screenplay for translating Rex Pickett's novel for the big screen. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church star as a pair of friends who go on a transformative road trip together.
Seven years lapsed between Sideways and Payne's next project The Descendants (2011). During this time, Payne's marriage to actress Sandra Oh ended and contributed a segment to Paris, Je T'Aime (2006). He also worked in television, serving as an executive producer for the series Hung starring Thomas Jane.
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From the early days of film, directors have transported audiences from darkened movie theaters to memorable worlds of their own creations. Their artistic visions and technical innovations have made a lasting impression on cinema from early silent films, starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin, to the psychological thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock to the blockbuster hits of Steven Spielberg and so many more. Here is a look at the famous film directors who have made their mark on the big screen.
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