Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times film critic, is dead

Roger Ebert attends the 2011 Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library gala benefit awards dinner at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum.

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has died after a long battle with cancer, the newspaper reported Thursday.

He was 70.

President Barack Obama paid tribute to Ebert, who he described as "honest" and "resilient."

"Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert," Obama said in a statement cited by Politico. "For a generation of Americans – and especially Chicagoans –Roger was the movies.

"When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive – capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical."

Obama said Ebert remained "as productive as he was resilient" during his battle with cancer, "continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world."

Ebert announced on his blog Tuesday that his cancer had returned and he would take a “leave of presence” to get radiation treatment.

He promised to keep writing reviews, just not as many.

"It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me," Ebert wrote in what was his last piece for the Chicago Sun-Times.

"What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

Ebert, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, died in Chicago on Thursday.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic was prolific, authoring more than 300 reviews last year alone, and was described by the Chicago Tribune as the "most powerful movie critic in the history of that art form." 

His "dryly witty, occasionally sarcastic, sometimes quirky" reviews made him "one of the most trusted" critics of his generation, the New York Times said.

But despite his enormous influence, Ebert, who also co-hosted a television program, wrote in his 2011 autobiography "Life Itself" that he considered himself "beneath everything else a fan." 

Ebert's long battle with cancer cost him his thyroid, salivary glands and chin, as well as his ability to eat, drink and speak, yet he remained remarkably positive about his life and work.

“When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was,” he told Esquire magazine in 2010, the NYT said. “All is well. I am as I should be.”

Ebert is survived by his wife, Chaz.