Alexander Payne (born February 10, 1961) is an acclaimed filmmaker from Omaha, Nebraska. His films generally include the following tropes:
- Citizen Ruth (1996) — A drug addict's latest pregnancy becomes a political football in the abortion debate.
- Election (1999) — An idealistic high school teacher tries to sabotage a haughty overachiever's chances of becoming the class president.
- About Schmidt (2002) — A recently retired/widowed actuary drives to his daughter's wedding. Hilarity Ensues.
- Sideways (2004) — Two former college roommates go on a road trip through Santa Barbara Wine Country before one of them gets married. The same guy has sex with a lot of women, the other...not so much.
- The Descendants (2011) — A Hawaiian aristocrat tries to reconnect with his daughters when his wife goes into a coma.
- Nebraska (2013) — An elderly man has his son drive him from Montana to Nebraska so the father can claim a million-dollar prize he thinks he's won. Along the way, they meet many of the old man's friends and relatives and try to repair their strained relationship.
- Downsizing (2017) — A social satire in which an average man thinks he would have a better life if he were to shrink.
His films provide examples of:
- Auteur License: Gained it after Election, to the point where he has final cut on every film he makes.
- Bittersweet Ending: His endings are this at happiest. With the exceptions of About Schmidt and Nebraska.
- Black Comedy
- Butt-Monkey: Jim, Warren, Miles and David and Woody can attest to this.
- Central Theme: Existential crises, satirical depictions of American society,
- Creator Provincialism: Alexander Payne is Omaha.
- Cringe Comedy
- Eagle Land: Overwhelmingly type 2.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: His films are about the modern person, fallible but complex. Heroes are not perfect and any character that seems antagonistic still has redeeming qualities.
- Sliding Scaleof Idealism Vs Cynicism: His films generally lie a tad more towards the cynical end of the spectrum, however his films aren't generally mean spirited. His protagonists are still pretty likable to route for and care about.
- The Film of the Book: Citizen Ruth and Nebraska are the only two films he's directed which are not adaptations of novels.
- Uncredited Role: He was an uncredited script doctor for Meet the Parents and Jurassic Park 3.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Especially his first two films.