I'm very sad to hear that Sydney Pollack has died. Not only did he direct two of my favourite films (Tootsie and The Firm), but he was also one of my favourite actors.
He never seemed to make a bad movie, or be anything less than excellent in any scene. Even if the film he was in was dodgy (and I can actually only think of one - Eyes Wide Shut) his scenes were really good.
There have only ever been three people whose names I take to be a surefire indicator of the quality of a film. Sydney Pollack was the first, then there's Sidney Lumet.
The third person is Colin Farrell, but for the opposite reason: I pretty much know that any film he's involved with is going to be terrible.
(The only exception to this rule is: Minority Report, which is good despite Colin Farrell. But that was made before anybody knew who he was, so the Farrell-factor hadn't built up any momentum. I bet you didn't even remember he was in that film, did you? Well he was. And he was terrible. Even though the film is a great one, it marks the birth of the Farrell-factor phenomenon.)