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Exclusive: The Nebraska Playlist
Alexander Payne programmes a movie marathon for us

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Six pictures into his filmmaking career, and Alexander Payne is establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s finest writer/directors. Of course, he didn’t write Nebraska, his latest Oscar-nominated road-trip movie, but it’s a Payne film from start to finish, infused with his offbeat comic sensibility, shot through with the wry poignancy that’s become his trademark, and beautifully acted. As commentators are fond of mentioning, Payne’s sensitive direction has helped guide seven of his cast members to acting nods at the Oscars, a fact guaranteed to elicit a warmer response than questions about Nebraska’s monochrome look. “What’s not fun is talking about ‘Why black and white?’,” he reflects when Empire calls him at his home in Omaha, “because I’ve answered that 500,000 times. But with an open heart, I’m very grateful for the interest in my movies.” Steering dramatically away from the subject, we asked him to recommend six films closely related to his Best Picture nominee as Nebraska heads to DVD and Blu-ray.

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Middle Age Crazy (1980) / Drive, He Said (1971)

"I’ll just avoid the obvious Bruce Dern performances, like The Cowboys and Coming Home and The King Of Marvin Gardens, and mention a low-budget Canadian film called Middle Age Crazy. The title says it all: a fellow feels he’s wearing a cast-iron suit, does some things both wise and unwise to break free, involving that old cliché, the new car. I hadn’t since it since college, but I always remember it as a very good performance from Bruce. It’s got super-hot Ann Margret in it. An even better one was the first film directed by Jack Nicholson which was called Drive, He Said, in which Bruce plays an obsessed basketball coach. He’s great in that. It’s a lovely, strange film. Did I chat with him on the Nebraska set about this era? Not only did I get the chance to chat to Bruce, but he never stops chatting! He is a constant fount of anecdotes and reminiscences from his career. He had a big old time at the Oscars too.

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