Andrew Sarris, an influential movie critic who championed the importance of directors in filmmaking, died today. He was 83. His wife says Sarris died in a Manhattan hospital from complications from a stomach virus. Sarris was possibly best known for his work with the Village Voice in the 1960s and 1970s, when movies were no longer considered solely entertainment but became subjects of analysis for critics and audiences alike. The Brooklyn-born Sarris popularized the auteur theory _ that a director’s voice is central to great filmmaking. He also was a pioneer of the annual “Top 10″ film lists that remain a media staple to this day. In 1968, he published “The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968.” Sarris described it as “a collection of facts, a reminder of movies to be resurrected, of genres to be redeemed, of directors to be rediscovered.” His favorites included John Ford, Hawks, Orson Welles and Fritz Lang.
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