Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Directors Project: #29 - Alexander Payne

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1985-present

Films as Director: 6

Oscar Wins: 2

-Best Adapted Screenplay (The Descendants)

-Best Adapted Screenplay (Sideways)

Who: When thinking of rural America in 21st century film, there is no composer as readily prominent as Payne. With several of his films focusing on simple people from the middle of America, he manages to show a side of the country that is often overlooked in favor of the glossier, more attractive side. His films have raw, earnest emotions that are chocked full of brilliant performances that help to define careers often for newcomers. From alcoholism to aging, he has explored America's underbelly in personal ways that have helped to influence the modern uprising of rural American films and provided it with humor, brilliant characters, and a personalized joy.

Scene from Nebraska
-- Sideways (2004) --

Flickchart Ranking: #190 (750 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 820 points

-- Election (1999) --

Flickchart Ranking: #238 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 770 points

-- Nebraska (2013) --

Flickchart Ranking: #363 (550 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 620 points

-- About Schmidt (2002) --

Flickchart Ranking: #393 (550 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 610 points

-- The Descendants (2011) --

Flickchart Ranking: #717 (300 points)
IMDb Rating: 5/10 (50 points)
Perks: None
Total: 350 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 3170 points

Scene from About Schmidt
When it comes to character studies, I don't know that there is any director currently working who makes them quite like Payne. For starters, his take on the Midwest is particularly interesting and the exploits manage to add an authenticity to the performances. He works with a lot of unknown actors, who impressively bring an organic feel to the movie. He populates the story with a sense of whimsy and humanity that helps to make the humor flow easily. Any wisdom and insight that he does have spews from the scenes due to the relativity of the common man. They are both simple and complex with beauty splattered around it. He makes America seem like one of the most diverse, interesting countries out there.

UP NEXT: A multi-genre auteur who revolutionized comedy and added b-movie charm to mainstream horror as well.

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