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Minghella, Oscar-Winning Director, Dies at 54

Anthony Minghella, who won an Academy Award for for Best Director for The English Patient and recently made a big splash in opera with his production of Madame Butterfly, died suddenly on March 18. The cause could not be immediately determined. He was 54.

Minghella came into directing late, starting as a musician and playwright and working briefly as a university professor after attending the University of Hull in North Yorkshire, Humberside, England. He won the London Theater Critics Award in 1984 for Most Promising Playwright and in 1986 for Best Play with Made in Bangkok. He started directing his own plays later on and made his debut as screenwriter-director with Truly Madly Deeply in 1990.

The pinnacle of his career, both by his own admission and critics worldwide, was The English Patient, which won him his Oscar as well as a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film won 9 Oscars in total, including Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche. He directed and adapted The Talented Mr. Ripley, earning another writing nomination, and helmed Cold Mountain, which won Renee Zellweger an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as well. A testament to directing skill, his films are known for their sweeping cinematography and actors in his various works have received six Oscar nominations.

In 2006, Minghella returned home to the theatre world with his inventive production of Puccini's Madame Butterfly. Incorporating puppets amongst other design coups, it debuted at the English National Opera and opened at the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2006.

His next film, The No 1. Ladies Detective Agency, is already completed but he was at work filming New York I Love You when he died.

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