Robert Altman, maverick film director, died on Monday night in Los Angeles. He was 81 years old.

Altman had recently been promoting the DVD release of A Praire Home Companion, a film in which the movie studio hired Paul Thomas Anderson to be an assistant director in case, as Altman put it, he kicked the bucket.

He had been nominated five times for best director at the Academy Awards, but never won one (a shame on par with Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock and Richard Burton never winning Oscars, but we'll take that up another time). The Academy did award Altman an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement earlier this year, and in his acceptance speech he mentioned that he had received a heart transplant ten years prior. Altman then said that perhaps the Academy had "acted prematurely in recognizing the body of his work, as he felt like he might have four more decades of life ahead of him." If only.

Luckily, his work lives on in DVDs and repertory film programming. Altman was known for so many films - M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, Nashvile and California Split and more recently, The Player, Short Cuts, Gosford Park, and the flawed but underrated Dr. T and The Women.

We'll miss you, Bob.