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RIP -- Robert Altman

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One of the most talented, controversial and often brilliant directors of all time (and one of my favorites), Robert Altman, has died. He was 81.

In his career, Altman directed some of the best and most popular movies, across many different genres, including M*A*S*H which took place in Korea but was a thinly disguised attack on U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, one of the best "revisionist" Westerns of all time, Nashville, one of the only movies about Country Western music that made me actually like Country Western music and, of course, The Player -- one of the best movies about the absurdity of Hollywood of all time.

Altman was a five-time Academy Award nominee for best director, most recently for "Gosford Park," but he never won. Altman was tied for this "honor" with four other directors -- Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Clarence Brown and King Vidor. In recognition of his career, Altman was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the motion picture Academy in 2006. It was during that ceremony that Altman revealed he had a heart transplant a decade earlier.

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"I didn't make a big secret out of it, but I thought nobody would hire me again," he said after the ceremony. "You know, there's such a stigma about heart transplants, and there's a lot of us out there."

But really, its much more these words, from the legend himself, that in the end may help sum-up the man and his career:

"No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have. I'm very fortunate in my career. I've never had to direct a film I didn't choose or develop. My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition."

We, the audience, have been the fortunate ones to have had this man and his films. He will be missed.