My Freelance Work

  • The Envys: The film awards you didn’t see coming

    L.A. Times Envelope2/15/19

    Faces and films change every year at the Oscars, but only rarely do we see an award added. This means that the number of overlooked props, tropes and performances that go unheralded (or un-chastised) continue to pile up. In our annual effort to make sure everybody has a chance at a prize, we present the overlooked masterpieces and serious slip-ups that deserve shout-outs this awards season. Behold: The Envy Awards!

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  • Some Hair and Makeup Oscar Contenders Went Prosthetic, Others Used Traditional Tricks

    Variety2/13/19

    A historical British royal drama. A biopic of an American vice president. A Swedish film about real-life trolls. All three of this year’s Academy Award nominees for hair and makeup showcase a wide range of visual effects on the faces and bodies of their stars, but there’s one subject everyone has an opinion on: the use of prosthetics, or not, in “Mary Queen of Scots,” “Vice,” and “Border.”

    “Last year, prosthetics won the Oscar,” says hair and makeup designer Jenny Shircore, nominated with Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks for “Mary,” referring to the young boy’s headpiece in “Wonder.”

    “Prosthetics are the modern way of changing a character’s look, but I felt heartened that we had used a simpler form of makeup, with brushes and sponges [in ‘Mary’], yet it was considered worthy of a nomination alongside major prosthetics,” adds the Oscar winner (1998’s “Elizabeth”).

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  • Record of the Year: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

    Grammy Awards2/10/19

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s duet is called “Shallow,” but don’t let that fool you: it’s one of the deeper songs released in 2018.

    And it has to have depth, carrying the weight of being not just another love song – but one that showcases its singers’ different vocal styles while also setting the stage for a huge plot turn in the latest iteration of A Star Is Born, for which it was written. It does all of those things with pinpoint, professional precision.

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  • Prop or lucky charm? For character or comfort? These film items come straight from the actors

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/23/19

    An emerald ring, a stuffed bear, a jacket — props and costumes always help ground actors in a film’s story, but few things are more powerful to have on set than something they personally connect with. “It’s a little whisper to yourself in the movie,” says John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”). The Envelope tracked down several of the things actors carried — sometimes directly from home — onto the set and listened to what those whispers sounded like.

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  • Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and other stars on what happens to their characters after the movie ends

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/09/19

    When the credits roll, a movie’s story is over — or is it? That could depend on what chair you’re in. As a first-time director (of the family drama “Wildlife”), Paul Dano says he hasn’t thought about what comes after the credits in his picture. “The final image is the ending. That’s the film for me. It’s a moment of grace.” But when he shifts into the actor’s chair and recalls playing Brian Wilson in “Love & Mercy,” it’s a different story. “You spend so much time preparing for a role and doing it, it doesn’t just disappear,” he says. That’s the case for other actors, who often spend time building their character’s backstory, figuring out their life before the events of the film take place. So why not create an “after-story” as well? The Envelope spoke with some performers who did just that. Oh, and we’re talking about film endings here. If you haven’t seen “Widows,” “Leave No Trace,” “The Sisters Brothers” or “The Wife,” and don’t want to know how they end, turn the page now.

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  • 8 magic moments: Directors reveal what scene is key to their film

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/09/19

    All films contain a beginning, a middle and an end. But for most directors there is one key scene that ties everything together or reveals a key motivation or turning point in the story. It can be a big dramatic moment or a quiet glimpse of an actor’s face that says it all. And more often than not, it is the scene that lingers in your memory after leaving the theater. The Envelope talked with the directors of eight of this season’s award-contending films to find out what scene for them was at the core of their films.

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  • They may be young, but these teens carry a movie as easily as an iPhone

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/08/19

    Awards season is full of prestige roles for veteran actors with big names — but just scratch below the surface of many of this year’s lineup and you’ll discover great performances from the newer, younger set. In films like “Wildlife,” “Vox Lux,” “Leave No Trace” and “Eighth Grade,” adolescent actors go up against some of Hollywood’s best and brightest — and truly give us hope for cinema’s future. Here are four leading lights who are ready for their close-ups.

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  • Foreign Actors Break Barriers

    Variety - 1/04/19

    Dec. 6 felt a bit like déjà-vu for one director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose German film “Never Look Away” landed just one of five berths in the Golden Globes foreign-language film category, along with fellow nominees “Shoplifters” (Japan), “Capernaum” (Lebanon), “Girl” (Belgium) and “Roma” (Mexico).

    “We’re not even five hours from the announcement, and I’m getting emails and calls from all over the world,” he marvels. “A film can remain invisible without help like this from such a powerful organization. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. gives it a voice.”

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  • Costume Designers Help Establish a Film’s Point of View at First Look

    Variety - 1/04/19

    To look at Felicity Jones as the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the opening scene of “On the Basis of Sex” is to glimpse a microcosm of the next two hours: Outfitted in a 1950s-silhouetted dress, jacket and seamed pantyhose, Ginsberg is one of the few women at a Harvard Law School introductory seminar among 450 men dressed in gray suits.

    “It’s a full ensemble that is quite feminine, but in an appropriate way for where she was,” says the film’s costume designer Isis Mussenden. “Seeing it juxtaposed like that immediately tells our audience that this is someone special. It immediately tells us we’re in another era. And that she’s a fish out of water.”

    Such is a key job of a film’s costume designer: to provide an audience shorthand so the story can begin.

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  • ‘Science Fair’ celebrates the ‘nerds,’ the kids looking ahead to solve global problems

    L.A. Times Envelope - 12/07/18

    On the surface, “Science Fair” looks like it’ll be just as earnest and straightforward as its title, focusing on the bright students of today as they compete in the annual International Science and Engineering Fair. But the entertaining, heartfelt National Geographic documentary from journalists Darren Foster and Cristina Costantini has taken on a life of its own since winning Sundance’s 2018 inaugural festival-wide audience award and now has a good chance at Academy Award attention. The filmmakers spoke with The Envelope about the film, its unexpected politicization and why science nerds are our real superheroes.

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