Alexander Payne is a filmmaker renowned for the dark humor in his thought-provoking movies on American society. The setting for his movies is the state of Nebraska, the state where he was born and raised. His movies have received critical acclaim. He has won two Academy Awards for Best Adaptive Screenplay. He has been nominated for Best Director three times.
Alexander Payne was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. His father ran a popular restaurant called the Virginia Café and his mother was a professor. He showed an early talent for writing and wrote a humor column for his school’s student newspaper. He also edited the school’s yearbook. He attended Stanford University and received a BA in two majors, History and Spanish. While studying Spanish at University, he was sent to study at the University of Salamanca in Spain. He lived in Medellin in Colombia after completing his undergraduate degree. He returned to the US and joined the Film School of UCLA and received an MFA degree in the year1990. At the start of his career, he was hired for work by production houses and other filmmakers.
Alexander Payne made his first film in 1996 starring Laura Dern called Citizen Ruth, a satirical film about the abortion debate. His other well-known films were, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska and Downsizing. Throughout his career as a filmmaker, Alexander Payne never forgot his roots. Most of his films are based in Nebraska. Even if the setting of the movie is not in Nebraska, he will make sure that a scene in the movie makes the character go to or pass by Nebraska. Often the visit to Nebraska will change the lives of the character in the movie. He is so proud of his home state that he keeps his Oscar statues in his home located in Omaha, Nebraska although he has residences in Omaha and Los Angeles.
The movies of filmmaker Alexander Payne show a cynical yet humorous view of American society in the present day. The settings of the movies are located in Nebraska, Payne’s home state showing that he is proud of his Nebraska heritage.