This is an expanded version of my Obit Patrol post on his passing.
Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter -- via the New York Times. An excellent writer, and a filmmaker who didn't mind trying all the genres, or working with no budget. He wrote standout screenplays, such as the under-rated "Silent Partner" and "White Dog"; he made horror movies, spring-break comedies, even the "Karate Kid" ripoff "The Little Dragons." But he made really good thrillers, such as "The Bedroom Window" and "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle." When he got the chance to make a noir with style, he gave us "L.A. Confidential," which both revels in the style of the period and shatters its conventions at the same time. "Wonder Boys" is another gem, a grown-up stoner comedy. "8 Mile" is compelling, and his last big project, "Too Big to Fail," took a tough complex story and made it understandable.
My admiration for him lies in his love for the movies. He loved them so much that he took on all kinds of hackery projects and learned how to make them work. He loves the old tricks and twists of Golden Age cinema, and in his films he figures out how they work and then he starts to bend them to his own purposes. His shots are there to move things along. He does not waste your time. He gets good work out of people.
Unfortunately, it seems he went into a quick physical decline in the past few year. Thankfully, he left behind some good stuff to remember him by.