The Gosford Park director will be celebrated for "a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike."
Altman has received five Academy Award nominations as a director and producer but has never taken home the Oscar.
Academy President Sid Ganis says, "He is a master filmmaker and well deserves this honor. The board was taken with Altman's innovation, his redefinition of genres, his invention of new ways of using the film medium and his reinvigoration of old ones."
The Academy Awards will take place in Hollywood on March 5.
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