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We go to the movies (or sit at home on the couch), in hopes that they will transport us somewhere else. Sometimes they succeed and create a believable 2-D world that we can immerse ourselves in for a few hours. Movies have the remarkable power to take us to the middle of the South Pacific, or follow us as we wander the streets of revolutionary France, and even animate our surroundings with the rich green rolling hills of the Scottish highlands.

So, in the spirit of the 85th Academy Awards, come travel with us as we take you around the world, according to some of 2012’s most acclaimed movies.

FanPop.com

Amour and Les Miserables, Paris


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Key Locations

Both best picture nominees depict Paris in different ways, but capture the city’s essence in each of their respective time periods. The city of Les Miserables is dark and grim, as the film chronicles the life of Jean Val Jean (best actor Nominee Hugh Jackman), who seeks redemption after serving 19 years in prison. Amour‘s Paris is much more subdued, as the film focuses on an elderly couple, Anne and Georges (best actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) who must rely on each other after Anne suffers a stroke.


What to See


Each film can be viewed as a template for what type of Paris trip you wish to take. Les Miserables, based on the stage musical and novel by Victor Hugo, is a sprawling epic that takes place over the course of two decades. Emulate Val Jean’s quest to become a righteous man by visiting one of Paris’s breathtaking cathedrals, such as the Notre Dame. The cathedral is celebrating its 850th anniversary through November, and is commemorating the occasion with a slew of events and activities. Nine new bells will ring on February 23, and on May 6 visitors can enjoy an organ concert. Take a walking tour through Parisian streets where rebellious students forged barricades to fight. Or, peek at what lurks below by taking a tour of the Paris Sewer Museum located beneath the city. The sewers play a vital role in the film’s climax, so hold your nose and get a bit of history. 

On the other side of the spectrum, Amour is an incredibly intimate film, with much of the action taking place in the couple’s apartment. Though, like Les Miserables, music plays a significant role. Anne and Georges are both retired music teachers who frequent recitals of their former students. The city is home to an array of concerts from classical to modern. If you’re looking for a quiet romantic getaway, the City of Lights won’t disappoint: Book a hotel with excellent views, such as the historic Hotel Qui Voltaire (rates start at around $129). Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Maryrose Mullen 

ZeroDarkThirty-Movie.com

Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, Washington, D.C.

Key Locations

Both critically acclaimed political dramas deal with difficult topics like torture, hostage situations as well as life and death. And while the two films are set abroad, a quick trip to Washington, D.C. will land you at some key landmarks worth visiting. Argo is nominated for seven awards including best picture and best actor in a supporting role (Alan Arkin). Zero Dark Thirty is up for five awards including best picture and best actress in a leading role (Jessica Chastain).

What to See

Argo‘s cast and crew had the rare opportunity to actually film at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va. Unfortunately, the closest you’ll get at a look inside the CIA is on their website – take a virtual tour of their headquarters and online museum. For a more interactive experience, visit the International Spy Museum and check out their Argo Exposed exhibit. The museum has the actual declassified materials from the mission, behind-the-scenes film commentary, and more information about the man that lead the original Argo mission, Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck). The museum also holds Spy Seminars, one of which was titled “The Operation That Killed Osama Bin Laden.” The Newseum is also a great museum to check out. Their G-Men and Journalists exhibit zeros in on the War on Terror’s effect on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and how they have adapted since 911.

Get out of the museums for a fun take on a day in the life of a spy: spy camp. Girls can attend Stiletto Spy School and learn how to “rock a gown and take a bad guy down” along with mastering mixology and the art of seductive dance. MI6 Academy  is more on pace for guys; learn hand-to-hand combat, McGuyver survival skills, and extreme stunt driving! Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Amanda Black 

FoxSearchlight.com

Beasts of the Southern Wild, New Orleans

Key Locations


The isolated Louisiana bayou community known as the Bathtub, where the film takes place, is based on several communities in the Terrebonne Parish. It is there that five-year-old Hushpuppy (best actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis) must fend for herself against the savage and mythical forces of nature. 

What to See


The film is a fantasy-drama, incorporating magical elements and mythical creatures. Explore the city of New Orleans to match the film’s rich, otherworldly allure. Take a historical tour to learn about the Crescent City’s relationship with the ancient art of voodoo; the practice is a mixture of West African religious practices and Roman Catholicism. The tour makes stops in actual voodoo shops where you can see what current practitioners are doing today. Amp up the spooky factor by and booking book a ghost tour to learn of the spirits that still walk the city’s streets. A cemetery tour will take you to the tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. If you’re too afraid to confront the beyond head-on, learn about its origins at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. A quick 35 minute jaunt outside the city will land you in the bayou; take an airboat tour to see alligators, osprey, owls, and more. Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Maryrose Mullen 

Disney.Go.com

Brave, Scotland

Key Locations

Disney’s latest adventure is up for the award for best animated feature film. The rolling hills of the Scottish highlands play a huge part in the plotline, just like they have in many other movies like P.S. I Love You and Braveheart.

What to See

Instead of just staying in Glasgow or Edinburgh, escape the city to explore what truly makes Scotland beautiful: the countryside. And while you can’t exactly visit the locations that are pictured in the film, you can hit some spots that inspired it. Adventures by Disney did much of the legwork for your travels by creating a kid-friendly guided tour through Scotland based on the film. Adventurers will visit the National Museum of Scotland where you’ll see the Chessmen of Lewis – iconic archaeological finds that Merida (voice by Kelly Macdonald) and her mother play with in the movie. Other stops include a private after-hours tour of Edinburgh Castle a culinary class on how to make Merida’s brothers’s favorite Scottish pastries, and a visit to Glamis Castle where you’ll get an expert archery lesson (one of Merida’s favorite hobbies). Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Amanda Black 

DjangoUnchained-Movie.net

Django Unchained, Mississippi

Key Locations


The gun-slinging revenge epic earned a slew of Oscar nods, including best picture, best supporting actor, and best original screenplay. The film is set in the pre-Civil War south, and though set in Mississippi, some filming took place on the National Historic Landmark Evergreen Plantation in Edgar, Louisiana. Former-slave Django (Jamie Foxx) teams up with German dentist and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to rescue Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) from Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

What to See


Quentin Tarantino’s most recent saga is a parody of classic spaghetti westerns; embody that reckless, rambunctious spirit by hitting the Mississippi outdoors. Practice your skeet shooting skills at the Coast Rifle and Pistol Club in Biloxi. The Harrah’s Casino Willows Shooting Clays offers realistic hunting environments on 14 shooting stations. Mississippi also harbors excellent equestrian trails for horse lovers who are itching to hop on their steed and gallop to freedom. Circle S Riding Stables offers both guided and unguided tours as well as horse rentals. To feel like a true renegade, set up shop on one of Mississippi’s many campgrounds. Roosevelt State Park, named for nature-loving Teddy, has over 100 campsites with everything from RV parking with water, electricity and sewage, to primitive camping sites with pads for tents. 
For a historical context and to see how the other half lived in Antebellum South, visit one of Mississippi’s historic plantations. Today, The Brandon Hall Plantation serves as a bed and breakfast. You can also take a tour of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s childhood home, the Rosemont PlantationUse our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Maryrose Mullen

TheImpossible-Movie.com

The Impossible, Thailand

Key Locations

Since the 2004 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the shores of Southeast Asia tourists have returned and life appears to be returning to normal. But Thais and tourists alike still remember the news of the tragedy that struck the Andaman coast. The Impossible tells the heart-wrenching and uplifting story of a family split up by the natural disaster. Naomi Watts, Maria in the movie, is nominated for best actress in a leading role and filming took place all over Thailand.

What to See

Volunteer programs like International Volunteer HQ and Globe Aware allow vacationers the opportunity to give back after the tragedy. Some examples of trips involve outdoor work like building water tanks, extending pipe systems, and constructing classrooms. If you’re looking for a less labor-intensive trip, you’ll find plenty of options as well. In Chiang Mai, attend the Yee Peng festival, much like the one depicted in the movie. In mid-November, hundreds of locals and tourists gather to release floating sky lanterns (November 15–18 in 2013). Take to the water and go for a scuba dive in Tonsai Bay, off Koh Phi Phi Don, to check out the country’s first underwater tsunami memorial. You can also attend countless memorial services held across the country; one to note is “Light Up Phuket” on December 26. The event incorporates religious services as well as a lighting service where thousands dig holes in the sand on Patong Beach and place lit candles in them to remember victims. Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

 Amanda Black 

Flickr/Life of Pi Movie

Life of Pi and Kon-Tiki, the ocean

Key Locations

Nailing down exact locations for both Kon-Tiki and Life of Pi is challenging, at best. Life of Pi begins in India, but a ship wreck in the Pacific Ocean brings viewers along on Pi’s (played by Suraj Sharma) journey. Kon-Tiki leads viewers from Norway to Peru and later, deep into the South Pacific. Kon-Tiki is up for best foreign language film, while Life of Pi is nominated for 11 awards including best picture and best cinematography.

What to See

Start your Life of Pi tour in Pi’s hometown, Pondicherry, where you can visit the culturally rich French Quarter, the Grand Bazaar, and Tamil Quarter, notable in the movie for where Pi flirts with his girlfriend. The markets are chock-full of flowers, fresh produce, and local goods. Next up, check out the city’s botanical gardens – they served as the zoo where Pi’s father worked. If you’re an animal lover, head to the Andaman Islands and swim with Rajan, a 63-year-old retired Asian elephant (one of the last of the famous swimming elephants). While it’s not exactly swimming with Richard Parker, the Royal Bengal tiger depicted in the movie, he’s definitely a close second.

The Kon-Tiki museum in Oslo, Norway details the story of Thor Heyerdahl’s (played by Pal Sverre Hagen in the movie) expedition across the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in an effort to prove that South Americans probably made the same trip and populated the Polynesian islands 1,500 years ago. (The museum even has the original raft that Heyerdahl made the expedition on.) If you’re looking to match the path of Heyerdahl, start in Callao, Peru where the raft was towed out of the harbor and left to drift in the Humboldt Current. Get off dry land for a half-day boat tour of Palomino Island where you’ll see sea lions and possibly some Humboldt penguins. End your trip in French Polynesia to experience the relaxed island life that Heyerdahl and his crew were welcomed into once they crashed into the reefs off the Raroia Atoll in the Tuamotu Group of the Polynesian Islands. If you’re really interested in visiting the oval atoll where Heyerdahl ended his trip, there are two airstrips that see 1–3 flights a week through Air Tahiti. Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Amanda Black

TheLincolnMovie.com

Lincoln, Richmond, Virginia

Key Locations

Though principally set within the congressional halls in Washington, D.C., filming took place throughout neighboring Virginia. President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis) presides over a nation divided by brutal war, one he hopes to end with the passage of the 13th amendment to abolish slavery. The film is nominated for 12 awards, including best picture and best actor in a leading role.

What to See

Start out in Richmond for a view of life in the south during its split from the U.S. Visit the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. The museum houses many exhibits and artifacts from the confederacy, such as militia relics and old letters between soldiers. Make a trip to Appomattox Court House where the bloody war reached its conclusion with Confederate General Lee’s surrender to General Grant. To relive the battles up close, check out any of the Civil War reenactments – for a spectacular event, head to Petersburg, which will host the 22nd annual Battle of Petersburg on April 20 and 21. Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Maryrose Mullen

MoonriseKingdom.com

Moonrise Kingdom, New England

Key Locations

Nominated for best writing of an original screenplay, this hilarious movie is set in New England and was filmed entirely in Rhode Island. Two 12-year-olds fall in love and run away together, meanwhile, a local search party forms in an effort to find them.

What to See

Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) spends his summer at Camp Ivanhoe, which is set on Bayfield Farm in South Kingstown, R.I. To really explore sites from the movie, check out the Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown, R.I., which is depicted as Moonrise Kingdom Cove in the movie. Admission is free, making it easy to enjoy the gorgeous space to which Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam escaped in the film. Situated on 100-foot granite cliffs, the park used to be a coastal defense battery and training camp. Have a picnic with views of Newport Harbor or go hiking, boating or even scuba diving. Next, visit Camp Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rockville, R.I., where Fort Lebanon is set. Suzy and Sam go there to seek out help from a trusted relative of Sam’s scout troop who ends up marrying the 12-year-olds. Because the reservation is made up of three Boy Scout camps set on Yawgoog Pond, you can actually sign your scout up for summer camp there. Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Amanda Black

SilverLiningsPlaybookMovie.com

Silver Linings Playbook, Philadelphia


Key Locations

The romantic comedy-drama is a love-letter to the City of Brotherly Love, and many Philly landmarks make cameos throughout the film. With eight nominations, including best picture, best actor and actress, Pat (Bradley Cooper) struggles with his bipolar disorder as he attempts to reconnect with his estranged wife. 

What to See

If you’re a football fan, like Pat and his father (Robert De Niro), check out Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles play. Though football season won’t kick off until September, Lincoln Financial Field offers stadium tours throughout the year. During your visit you’ll stop in the pressroom, the locker room, and on the field itself. For a more cultured attraction, catch a show at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. While you won’t see Pat and Tiffany up there, the dance troupe Philadanco performs each spring and fall. (Visiting artists and other resident companies take the stage throughout the rest of the year.) If watching all that physical exertion leaves you famished, grab a bite to eat at Llanerch Diner, where Pat and Tiffany meet for a meal. The 80-year-old institution serves up favorite diner fare, like home fries and waffles, and like all great diners, is open 24 hours. Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

— Maryrose Mullen 

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