Travel with Oscar 2017: The Filming Locations of the Best Picture Nominees

Travel with Oscar 2017: The Filming Locations of the Best Picture Nominees

This year, nine motion pictures are under consideration for the Best Picture Academy Award. And while everyone is guessing who might win, I thought it might be more fun for a travel geek like me to explore the places featured in those films.

Arrival

Arrival stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. It is the story of a linguistics professor who must interpret the language of the alien visitors when twelve mysterious spacecraft suddenly appear around the world.

The events of the movie supposedly take place in Montana. However, the film was shot entirely in the Canadian province of Quebec. In particular, most of the Montana scenery was actually Bas-Saint-Laurent.

arrival-bas-saint-laurent best picture filming locations
Those egg-like UFOs were hovering over Quebec, not Montana.

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region is actually closer to New York than Montana. From the banks of the St. Lawrence River to the Highlands, the region features a diverse blend of maritime, lakeside, farming and forest landscapes. Visitors flock to the region for its villages, islands, lighthouses, national parks and marine mammals, as well as the many things to do there. It is also a popular destination for snowmobiling in the winter months.

Fences

Next is Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. It is the story of a working class African-American father raising his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.

Fences was filmed primarily in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1957 an African-American photojournalist named Charles “Teenie” Harris had taken many photos of the area. These photos inspired actor/director Denzel Washington, who tried to capture the same feeling in the film.

fences pittsburgh best picture filming locations
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences.

A small brick house at 809 Anaheim Street in the Hill District served as the setting for many of the film’s scenes.

Hacksaw Ridge

Starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa. As a conscientious objector for religious reasons, Doss refused to kill. He became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

Hacksaw Ridge utilized multiple locations in Australia for its scenes. One of those locations was Richmond, a semi-rural town in New South Wales. The town is about an hour outside of Sydney, and it has a population of less than 6000 people. I’m sure that having Mel Gibson and his film crew there caused quite a commotion!

hacksaw-ridge-in-richmond-nsw best picture filming locations
Period signage and vehicles transformed Richmond, New South Wales into small town America in the 1940s.

Many historic buildings line the streets of Richmond, so the town served as the perfect setting for some of the non-war scenes in Hacksaw Ridge. A two-hour walking tour of the town will highlight thirty points of interest.

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water, starring Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, is the story of a divorced father and his ex-con older brother.The men resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas. But guess what? Texas was actually New Mexico.

Much of the film’s shooting took place in Clovis, New Mexico. A burger joint and two banks located on North Main Street in Clovis featured in key scenes. Elsewhere in the film, you will see the Blue Ribbon Bar & Grill, where rangers waited for the robbers to slip up. The restaurant is in Estancia and it is now closed.  Finally, the Caprock Escarpment also features pominently in the film.

caprock_escarpment-hell or high water best picture filming locations
The Caprock Escarpment, the geographical transition point between the level high plains and the rolling terrain

To get the same sweeping view of it that was in the movie, drive along New Mexico’s Route 156.

Hidden Figures

In Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P Henson and Octavia Spencer, we learn the true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. The story takes place in Virginia, but the film locations were in Georgia.

Monroe Georgia courthouse hidden figures best picture filming locations
The courthouse in Monroe, Georgia

Specifically, the town of Monroe, Georgia served as the town where the main characters lived and worked.  Director Ted Melfi said that, “Monroe offered us a great backdrop for the film: from the historic courthouse, to the quaint streets lining downtown, to an old schoolhouse we converted…Monroe was perfect in every way.”

La La Land

The favorite to win the Best Picture Award, La La Land, starred Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It’s the story of a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, but it’s a musical, not a romantic comedy.

Most of the locations for this film were in Los Angeles or other locations in California. The Lighthouse Café, a nightclub located at 30 Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, was one of the film’s settings.

la la land lighthouse cafe best picture filming locations
Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone outside The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, CA

The Lighthouse Cafe has been active as a jazz showcase since 1949 and, under the name “The Lighthouse”, was one of the central West Coast jazz clubs from the 1950s through the late 1970s. It continues to feature live music today.

Lion

Starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, Lion tells the true story of a five-year-old Indian boy who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia.  Then, 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

The film utilized many locations in both India and Australia.  In one early scene, the boy plays cricket on the beach with his adoptive parents. That scene was filmed in Marion Bay, Tasmania:

Lion best picture filming locations marion bay tasmania
Cricket on the shore of Marion Bay, Tasmania, in Lion

It’s hard to see in the photo above, but this uncrowded bay, with Cape Hauy as its backdrop, is stunning. It becomes much more crowded on New Year’s Eve, however, as it is the site of the Falls Music and Arts Festival. Locals say that the surf is great, as are the nearby vineyards, and the turquoise waters and pristine white sands.

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck as an uncle who must take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies. The primary setting of both the story and the film is Manchester-by-the-Sea, in Massachusetts.

Manchester-by-the-Sea is a typical small New England town, with rugged shorelines and scenic beaches. Off in the distance, in Massachusetts Bay, is Bakers Island. This island, and the Bakers Island Light Station upon it, are the island and lighthouse seen from Joe’s boat in the movie.

manchester-by-the-sea-bakers-island best picture filming locations
Bakers Island & the Bakers Island Light Station in Massachusetts Bay

You can take a boat tours to the island to explore.  Special events planned for the future include an overnight visit to the lighthouse. (I think this is the prettiest of the best picture filming locations!)

Moonlight

The final contender for Best Picture is Moonlight, starring Mahershala Ali. It is a story of self-discovery, chronicling the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

And, just like the story, the movie was actually filmed in and around Miami. The characters Black and Kevin spend one scene in a typical American diner.

moonlight_jimmys_eastside_diner best picture filming locations

That’s Jimmy’s Eastside Diner, located at 7201 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami, Florida. Jimmy’s serves amazingly huge omelets, banana pancakes, and burgers and fries. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area (and hungry!).

So, that’s our list of the Best Picture filming locations. Have you been to any of them?

 

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