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Top 10 Oscar Film Locations

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In our romanticized, and admittedly naive, fantasy about life as a movie star, nothing is as unquestionably glamorous as traveling around the world on location. But considering that central casting hasn’t yet discovered us, we’ll make do by traveling in the footsteps of the best picture nominees for the 84th Academy Awards.

What better place to start our cinematic journey than in Hollywood itself, where best picture winner The Artist was filmed. From sipping soda at the Jackson, Mississippi café visited by Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her friends in The Help to charging an ATV through the Kauai ranch owned by Matt King (George Clooney) in The Descendants, our transporting list of film locations puts you in the center of the action.

Due to a change in voting rules this year, the Academy nominated only nine films instead of the usual 10, so we conclude our list with a roundup of Oscar rejects redeemed only by their gold-statuette-worthy settings. Unsung location scouts, we salute you.

You can preview all of these stellar settings in our Oscar Film Locations slideshow. Lights! Camera! Action!

The Artist, Hollywood

Key Locations
Set in Hollywood, California, in 1927, The Artist won three top Oscars, including best picture, director, and lead actor. Not only is the film in black and white (though it was filmed in color), it’s also silent, with only a few lines of dialogue in the entire movie. The film follows silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) as he adapts to the “talkies.”

What to See
Take your pick! The film features many theaters where the characters screen their own films: See a concert at the Orpheum Theatre (www.laorpheum.com), watch a play at the Wilshire Ebell Theater (www.ebellla.com/theater/index.htm), or explore the ornate Los Angeles Theatre (www.losangelestheatre.com). Only a few steps from the Wilshire Ebell Theater, take a stroll down Fremont Place, where George and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) both reside. In Peppy’s case, art imitates life. In the film, she lives at 56 Fremont Place, where silent film star Mary Pickford really did live in 1918.

Make it Happen

After a day of touring downtown landmarks like the Bradbury Building (304 S. Broadway), where Peppy makes her ascent to stardom as George makes his descent, and Eagle Rock Substation (7888 N. Figueroa St.), where the opening scene is set, stop in at the Italian restaurant Cicada (www.cicadarestaurant.com), where Peppy gives a scathing interview about the demise of silent films within earshot of George.

See our Los Angeles destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

The Descendants, Hawaii

Key Locations
Oahu and Kauai, Hawaii, are the spectacular backdrops in this Alexander Payne-directed family drama starring George Clooney as Matt King, who is on a quest to track down the man who had an affair with his dying wife, while dealing with battling cousins over a pristine plot of land on Kauai. The film took home an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

What to See
For an up close and personal take on the stunning, sweeping shots of Hawaii seen in the film, head to the Kalalau Trail in Kauai on the Na Pali coast, home to breathtaking views of canyons, waterfalls, and dazzling views of the Pacific. Look familiar? It should – parts of Jurassic Park and South Pacific were also shot here. The actual tracts of land that the King family owned were shot at a private ranch on the southeast coast of Kauai, the Lihue Plantation (also known as the Kipu Ranch).

Make it Happen
The Kipu Ranch is open for ATV tours (www.kiputours.com) and camping, like the King family did in the movie. Stay in Kauai on Hanalei Bay at the St. Regis Princeville Resort (rates start at $450/night), whose lobby, Presidential Suite, and beachfront all were featured in the film (www.stregisprinceville.com/descendants). For a more wallet-friendly option, Aston Hotels & Resorts is currently offering a “Lights! Camera! Aston!” Package that includes accommodations at your choice of four hotels or condominiums as well as two passes for the Hawaii Movie Tour. The six-hour tour takes you through notable film spots, including the Tahiti Nui restaurant where Matt and his family ate lunch in Kauai (package rates start at $149/night; www.AstonHotels.com).

See our Hawaii destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, New York City

Key Locations
Set in New York City a year after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close follows the brilliant and eccentric nine-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) as he tries to solve a mystery he believes his father (Tom Hanks) left him before his death on 9/11. The film opens and closes in Central Park – an obvious destination – but the pivotal moments happen downtown and in the outer boroughs.

What to See
Adventurous Oskar journeys to all five boroughs – Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island – (on foot!) to talk to every “Black” in the phonebook. Walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge as Oskar did, then wander through Chinatown and the Lower East Side where several scenes were filmed. Catch a train from Grand Central (where Oskar finally confronts his fears of public transportation – they’re high-risk locations) up to the West Side for lunch at Barney Greengrass Deli (www.barneygreengrass.com), where five scenes were shot (You’ve Got Mail and Revolutionary Road were also filmed there).

Make it Happen
On Location Tours, a company that offers bus tours based on the filming locations of movies and television shows, will take you to some of the spots that were used in the film, both in Manhattan and in Brooklyn (www.screentours.com). Pay your own tribute to the catastrophic event that served as a catalyst for Oskar’s quest at the newly opened 9/11 Memorial (www.911memorial.org); admission is free, but you must book a timed visitor’s pass in advance.

See our New York City destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

The Help, Jackson, Mississippi

Key Locations
The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel is set in Civil Rights-era Jackson, Mississippi, where racial tensions are running high. Aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) seeks out maids Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer, who took home the Academy Award for best supporting actress) for stories to expose the racism faced by Jackson’s domestic workers.

What to See
Parts of Jackson’s Fondren Art District were made into a 1960s set, with Brent’s Drugs, a retro soda fountain, featured several times and visited by Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her friends. At the 1935 Mayflower Café you can enjoy seafood and steak from the same booth as Skeeter and Stuart (Chris Lowell), and you should be sure to visit the New Capitol Building, which can also be spotted in the film’s background. Call ahead to reserve a free tour of The Medgar Evers Home and Museum, open year-round, and learn about the man whose tragic assassination gave the maids the courage to tell their story (601-977-7839; www.everstribute.org).

Make It Happen

Until the end of the year, the Fairview Inn, Jackson’s only AAA-rated 4-diamond luxury hotel, is offering a Help-themed package that includes an authentic Southern dinner for two, mint juleps on arrival, and a welcome basket of The Help related items (rates from $349/night; www.fairviewinn.com). To make sure you hit every Jackson spot mentioned in the book or movie, look into the visitors bureau’s self-guided The Help driving tours (www.visitjackson.com).

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

Hugo, Paris

Key Locations
Nominated for 11 Oscars, the most for any film this year, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo won for best cinematography, art direction, sound, and visual effects. The story centers on an orphan boy who lives inside the walls of a cavernous Paris train station, where he fixes clocks and steals mechanical parts from an old toy shop owner later revealed to be film pioneer George Méliès (Ben Kingsley). Shot mostly in London-based studios to maximize control over the cumbersome 3D format, Hugo illuminates a fantastical 1930s Paris that remains squarely grounded in fact, celebrating the City of Light’s passionate embrace of le cinema.

What to See
Gare Montparnasse is another leading character in Hugo, but the 1840 train station reproduced for the film was replaced by a modern station in 1969. Recapture the excitement and grandeur of the station’s heyday at one of the other five major terminus stations in Paris (Gare de Lyon features a large clock tower like the one in the film). Visit the grave of George Méliès in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery, the final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Moliere, and a host of other notables. Catch a flick at Theatre Montparnasse, very close to where Méliès lived while he worked at the train station (the Academie du Cinema Francais in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the children’s book upon which the film is based, was inspired by this building).

Make it Happen
Start in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Cast Courts gallery (www.vam.ac.uk), which doubles as the Parisian workplace of Hugo’s father, before boarding a Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) train at the newly renovated St. Pancras station for the two-hour journey to Paris’s 1860s-era Gare du Nord. Pray your train comes to a full stop before derailing and careening through the building, as happened at Gare Montparnasse in 1895, an event recreated by Scorsese during a dream sequence. See if Ben Kingsley truly resembles his character by studying a wax figure of Méliès in the Musée Grévin (www.grevin.com), one of the oldest wax museums in the world. Then visit the Musée de la Curiosité et de la Magie (www.museedelamagie.com), a magic museum with a delightful collection of automata (mechanical toys like the ones in the film).

See our Paris destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

Midnight in Paris

Key Locations
Winning the Oscar for original screenplay, the latest Woody Allen film follows Gil (Owen Wilson) on a journey to modern-day Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). Each night at midnight, Gil is transported back to the 1920s, where he follows notable literary and artistic figures of that era to the city’s famed cafes and restaurants.

What to See
We first see Gil and Inez at Monet’s Gardens in Giverny (www.fondation-monet.fr), which are definitely worth the 45-minute train ride from Paris. Set in a gorgeous, gated mansion smack in the middle of Paris, the Musée Rodin (www.musee-rodin.fr) is the site of our favorite Midnight in Paris cameo – French first lady Carla Bruni, playing a museum tour guide. Track down your own piece of history (or maybe a new love interest?) at the Marché aux Puces Saint-Ouen (Saint-Ouen flea market). Plan for a night out at Polidor (www.polidor.com), the restaurant where Gil first encounters Ernest Hemingway, or Maxim’s (www.maxims-de-paris.com), the destination for Gil and Adriana’s (Marion Cotillard) trip back further in time to the Belle Epoque.

Make It Happen
The Paris mayor’s office has put together a map with highlights from the film, from Gil’s rendezvous point for the time-traveling taxi on the steps of the Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont to the bouquinistes (booksellers) stalls Gil visits on the banks of the Seine. Gil and Inez stayed at Hotel Le Bristol (www.lebristolparis.com) in the film, though recreating that part of the experience will set you back around $1,000/night.

See our Paris destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

Moneyball, Oakland, California

Key Locations
The Oakland O.co Coliseum is center stage as Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and his assistant Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) build a baseball team using unconventional methods during the 2002 season.

What to See
During baseball season (April to September), Coliseum tours are offered by appointment on weekdays when the A’s are away. Typically, tours take place on Thursdays, but call ahead to see if your group can come a different day. Highlights include visits to the A’s dugout and bullpen as well as the visitors clubhouse and press box. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for kids (aged 14 and under) and seniors; call 510-563-2246 to book. When the A’s are in town, catching a game also won’t set you back too far: Regular season tickets start at just $2, and even seats in the MVP Boxes behind home plate usually can be found for under $50.

Make It Happen
Several area hotels offer packages specially designed for A’s fans during baseball season that include perks like free shuttle service to the Coliseum, though you may have to purchase your game tickets separately. Check www.visitoakland.org/specials for details.

See our California destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

The Tree of Life, Smithville and Waco, Texas

Key Locations
During production of The Tree of Life, director Terrence Malick’s deeply personal meditation on the origins of life, the history of the universe, and the eternal nature of the human condition, camera crews were dispatched around the world – from California, Hawaii, and Utah to Chile, Iceland, Italy, Malta, and Palau. But the pivotal story of three boys growing up in 1950s suburbia was filmed all over Texas, including Malick’s hometown of Waco.

What to See
The film’s namesake, a 65,000-pound live oak tree, was dug up and transported eight miles to the town of Smithville, Texas, where it was planted in the side yard of the main house of Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain), on the corner of East 8th and Burleson Streets. This quintessential small town stands in for Waco, which lies about 120 miles north. A few secondary scenes were filmed in Waco itself: The stained-glass spiral Glory Window, which forms the 60-foot-high ceiling of Waco’s Chapel of Thanksgiving (www.thanksgiving.org), features prominently in the film’s poster art.

Make it Happen
Start in Austin, where some of the film’s ephemeral underwater scenes were shot in local swimming holes, and drive 42 miles southeast to Smithville, whose Chamber of Commerce (www.smithvilletx.org) presents its annual Reel Film Expo from May 3-5, with location tours, stunt shows, and screenings of the movies that have been filmed here (also including the 1998 Sandra Bullock film Hope Floats).

See our Texas destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

War Horse, Devon, England

Key Locations
This Steven Spielberg film is about a boy, Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine), and his horse, Joey, in rural Devon, England. When Joey is sold for use as a war horse in World War I, he must fight to survive as Albert struggles to find and return him home to Devon.

What to See
Much of the movie is set in Devon and was filmed in Dartmoor National Park, located in South Devon in southwest England, about 225 miles from London. The park – free to enter and open year-round – is dotted with rivers, ruins, and villages that feature in the film, including Ditsworthy Warren House, the Narracott family’s farmhouse. Spielberg says he’s never “been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty” as in Dartmoor, so it’s definitely worth a trip (www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk). Other filming locales include the town of Castle Combe in Wiltshire, which represented the village of Devon, and the Duke of Wellington’s Stratfield Saye Estate (the grounds of which are open to visitors) in Hampshire where cavalry charges, French countryside, and German camp scenes were filmed.

Make It Happen
For the full War Horse experience, you can stay in Castle Combe, between the Devon and Stratfield Saye filming locations, at the Castle Inn Hotel, one of only two hotels in town. Its “War Horse Weekend” package starts at $224/night for two nights’ accommodations, champagne, truffles, and full English breakfast (www.castle-inn.info). While in Devon, be sure to take a War Horse guided walk offered by the Dartmoor National Park Authority – it starts on Gutter Tor and explores the landscapes that inspired Spielberg. The tours cost about $9 and are available on select days in February and March, with further dates to come. There will also be a summer exhibition on the filming in Dartmoor at the park’s High Moorland Visitor Centre in Princetown.

See our England destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

The Oscar Rejects

There were several movies this year that kind of missed the mark plot-wise, but we could almost sit through them for the stunning scenery (almost). Here are a few of our favorite non-nominee films with Oscar-worthy locations, along with how to experience the destinations like a star.

The Hangover Part II
Essentially the same plotline as the first Hangover with lamer jokes, this sequel at least upped the ante for jaw-dropping locations: Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding takes place at the spectacular, over-the-top Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (reserve.ritzcarlton.com/phulay_bay) in Krabi, Thailand, while the group’s efforts to track down Stu’s brother-in-law-to-be in Bangkok take them to the 63rd-floor Skybar of Lebua at State Tower (www.lebua.com/en/lebua-at-state-tower).

Just Go With It
We couldn’t “just go with” Danny Maccabee’s (Adam Sandler) lame attempts to con women into dating him, but we wouldn’t say no to a Hawaii escape at Maui’s opulent Grand Wailea, where Danny and Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) take their fake vacation in the film. The 780-room resort, set on 40 acres on Wailea Beach, boasts a 50,000-square-foot spa (the largest in Hawaii), nine swimming pools, three golf courses, and a $100-million art collection. www.grandwailea.com

The Rum Diary
Though it’s never expressly said in the film, the isle off the coast of Puerto Rico – a U.S. military base that shady investors hope to turn into a tropical playground – that Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) visits is likely Vieques. Not actually opened to tourists until 2003, today the island is an eco-friendly paradise known for its bioluminescent bay. For a colorful, month-long party you can only find in the Caribbean, recreate Paul’s excursion to the St. Thomas Carnival festival, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year (March 31-April 28, www.vicarnival.com).

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
The lavish beachfront mansion where Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) spend their honeymoon is available for rent – for a cool $4,000/night. The six-bedroom house, located about half-way between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil, boasts 7,500 square feet of waterfront deck space and sits on 700 feet of private beach. www.casaemparaty.com.br


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