minghella-1.jpgAt age 54, from complications following surgery, sources told me. The Oscar-winning director did his most memorable work turning books into literary movies with the Weinsteins at Miramax — The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Cold Mountain. His 1996 The English Patient won 9 Academy Awards, including best director for Minghella and best picture and best supporting actress for Juliette Binoche. Minghella also was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay for the movie and for his screenplay for The Talented Mr. Ripley. His 2003 Cold Mountain brought Rene Zellweger a best supporting actress Oscar. Ripley earned five Oscar nominations. He also directed 1990’s Truly, Madly, Deeply, and he exec produced last year’s Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton.

minghella-2.jpgHe was chairman of the Board of Governors at the British Film Institute between 2003 and 2007. Minghella also directed Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the English National Opera in London, then staged it for the season opener of New York’s Metropolitan Opera under general manager Peter Gelb. Born the second of five children to southern Italian emigrants, Minghella came to moviemaking from a successful playwriting career. Under the Weinsteins’ new banner The Weinstein Company, Minghella was recently in Botswana filming an adaptation of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency scheduled to air on the BBC this week and as a 13-episode series on HBO. I understand that in recent months Minghella had been spending a lot of time with his close friend Sydney Pollack, who is ailing.