Incredibly sad news from the film world this morning: Director Robert Altman has died at 81. In last year's Oscar speech, Altman revealed that he had benefited from a heart transplant and was essentially living (and thriving) on borrowed time. Few filmmakers can claim such a diverse and brilliant filmography—M*A*S*H, The Long Goodbye, McCabe And Mrs. Miller, Nashville, Short Cuts, Thieves Like Us, California Split, Secret Honor, The Player, Gosford Park... the list goes on and on—and even fewer can boast such a remarkable late-career renaissance. That Altman goes out on A Prairie Home Companion, a sweet and knowing film about passing away with dignity and spirit, could not be more appropriate to one of the great filmmaking mavericks. He will be missed.

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