Samuel Alexander "Sam" Mendes CBE (born August 1, 1965) is an English stage and film director.
His stage career dates back to the mid-1980s, with directorial credits racked up on the West End and with the Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Donmar Warehouse (which he was artistic director of from 1992-2002). He's done plenty of productions of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and the like, but is particularly well-regarded for his fresh stagings of musicals such as Oliver! and Gypsy. His much-acclaimed 1993 revival of Cabaret managed a Broadway transfer in 1998 and was his first production to be seen in the U.S.
Shortly after this, he made his film directorial debut with American Beauty, which netted him a Best Director Academy Award — one of five Oscars, including Best Picture. His film output is definitely weighted towards Oscar Bait, but he also has one of the most acclaimed James Bond films to his credit, Skyfall, in 2012, and went on to direct its sequel, Spectre, in 2015. Speaking of range, he went from the Skyfall hit directly to a stage musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
He was married to Kate Winslet between 2003 and 2010.
Common tropes in his work
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Appears in all of his work, regardless if it takes up the majority of the movie or not. This happened all the way from the Burnhams in American Beauty to the brothers Bond and Blofeld in Spectre.
- Scenery Porn: His collaborations with cinematographers such as Conrad L. Hall, Roger Deakins, Ellen Kuras and Hoyte Van Hoytema really shows, particularly in Road to Perdition, Skyfall and Spectre.
- Creator Cameo: He made cameos in his first two films. They pretty much go unnoticed, but they're pretty interesting to look at. He appeared as:
- Signature Shot: Try watching a Mendes film that doesn't contain a shot where a character stares out into the background, regardless if they're walking, sitting or standing. Even James Bond did it in BOTH Skyfall and Spectre.
- Also, whenever someone croaks or something crucial happens in his films, what else but to do but Cue the Rain
- Awesome Music: Don't forget that the fact that Thomas Newman creates amazing music in all of his films (except for Away We Go, where Alexi Murdoch's songs play over the film).
- Anyone Can Die: Every Mendes film contains a pivotal character(s) (ceremoniously or otherwise) kicking the bucket by the bittersweet/depressing third act.
- Lester Burnham in American Beauty
- John Rooney, Conor Rooney and Michael Sullivan in Road to Perdition
- Cpl Alan Troy in Jarhead
- April Wheeler in Revolutionary Road
- Silva and M in Skyfall
- Spectre has Mr. White shooting himself in the head during the second act. No main character dies at the end, though.
- The only film where this trope never happened was in Away We Go. It's his least Mendesian film to date. In that film, nobody dies and the tone is unambiguously happy.
- Signature Style: Mendes uses a more observant and atmospheric style in his films, often staging his scenes mostly in wides and often leaving the camera running at crucial moments in the scene.
- American Beauty (1999)
- Road to Perdition (2002)
- Jarhead (2005)
- Revolutionary Road (2008)
- Away We Go (2009)
- James Bond:
- 1917 (2019) note