Matt Tyrnauer was born in Los Angeles and studied film at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. His documentary feature film, Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008) has been called "Flawless" by Richard Corliss in Time and a "must-see" by The New York Times. Valentino premiered at the 2008 Venice Film Festival and won the top documentary prize at the Chicago Film Festival. It was one of the highest-grossing documentaries at the box office in 2009 and was short-listed for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It is currently available on DVD (www.valentinomovie.com) in the U.S and is being released in theaters and on TV around the world.
Tyrnauer's writing career began at Spy magazine. Graydon Carter, the co-founder of Spy, then hired Tyrnauer to write for him when Carter was editor of the New York Observer. Tyrnauer has written many feature articles as editor-at-large and special correspondent at Vanity Fair. His Vanity Fair articles include pieces on Martha Stewart (the August 2005 post-prison cover story and a 2001 profile), Valentino Garavani, Marlene Dietrich, Siegfried and Roy, Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, green design pioneer William McDonough, writer Bret Easton Ellis, producer Robert Evans, and the architect John Woolf.
Tyrnauer attended Crossroads School in Los Angeles, where the academic program was among the first in the nation to include serious film studies at the secondary school level. At Wesleyan University he apprenticed under the film professor, Joseph W. Reed, a pioneer in American film scholarship. Tyrnauer aided Reed in his research on American masters John Ford, Howard Hawks, Michael Curtiz and Robert Aldrich. Tyrnauer's honors thesis was an in depth analysis of the films of Robert Aldrich.