Director, producer and screenwriter Alexander Payne (February 1961 – ) was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Alexander attended Stanford University, where he majored in Spanish and History. He then went on to study film at UCLA Film School. His university thesis film was screened at the Sundance film festival, which led to him being backed by Miramax to write and direct Citizen Ruth (1996). His film Election, starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon attracted attention when New Yorker film critic David Denby named it the best film of 1999. Payne was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for Election. In 2003 he received a Golden Globe for his screenplay for About Schmidt, which was also nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe in 2005 for Best Screenplay for Sideways while the film also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture â€“ Musical or Comedy. In total, Sideways received five Academy Award Nominations.
Payne returned to directing in 2011 after a seven year hiatus with the film The Descendants, starring George Clooney. He also co-wrote the screenplay, winning the Oscar for adapted screenplay. Payne’s next project entitled Nebraska will star SNL comedian Will Forte and veteran character actor Bruce Dern. In 2012 he was named as a member of the Jury for the Main Competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. His 2013 film Nebraska was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Payne is on the Board of Directors of an Omaha non-profit film theater, Film Streams. He maintains a passion for preservation. In recent years, he helped preserve a historic film theater in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.