In an 11.13 N.Y. Times interview with Frank Bruni, The Descendants helmer Alexander Payne talks about a theory that all good directors have a magic decade. “They say you can do honest, sincere work for decades, but you’re given in general a 10-year period when what you do touches the zeitgeist — when you’re relevant,” he says. “And I’m aware of that, and I don’t want my time to go by.”

Alexander Payne

Let’s apply this to various directors. John Ford‘s charmed decade ran from My Darling Clementine (’46) to The Searchers (’56). Alfred Hitchcock‘s window of deep greatness was only nine years — Strangers on a Train (’51) to Psycho (’60). Billy Wilder‘s was an even ten — Sunset Boulevard (’50) to The Apartment (’60). Francis Coppola‘s window ran from The Godfather (’72) to One From The Heart (’82). Oliver Stone had a 13-year window — Salvador (’86) to Any Given Sunday (’99). So far Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu has had a decade-long grace period — Amores perros (’00) to Biutiful (’10). David Fincher has enjoyed an eleven-year window so far — Fight Club (’99) to The Social Network (’10).

At the end of his article, Bruni asks if the seven years between Sideways and The Descendants ate up some of Payne’s charmed decade, or is that decade just beginning now? Payne is silent a few seconds. “I have no idea,” he says.

While I did pretty well as a journalist and a columnist in the ’90s and early aughts, I think my big decade began in ’06 when I took HE in to a several-posts-per-day bloggy-blog format. I honestly feel like things are crackling on all four burners right now.