Oscar-winning travels: 6 filming locations that will make you want to go
And the Oscar for best location goes to …
There is, alas, no Academy Award for the category that creates a movie’s cinematic canvas — at least, not yet.
But this year’s crop of nominated films showcases some spectacular, far-flung and exotic locales. From the old-world charm of Copenhagen (“The Danish Girl”) to Argentina’s dramatic Tierra del Fuego (“The Revenant”) and the dusty red environs of Wadi Rum in southern Jordan (“The Martian”), moviegoers have gotten an eyeful.
Here are some locations that may inspire your next vacation.
“The Danish Girl”
This movie, set in 1920s Europe, is based on the life of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in sexual reassignment surgery. Most of the film takes place in Copenhagen and around the 17th century waterfront district of Nyhavn.
Filmmakers transformed the harbor area into a fish market, which is where real-life artists Einar (who becomes Lili) and Gerda Wegener, portrayed by Oscar nominees Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, respectively, lived.
The picturesque town houses lining the waterway were home to a host of artists including Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Several walking scenes along cobblestone streets include glimpses of notable buildings such as the dragon-spired stock exchange building, built by King Christian IV, and the half-timbered houses along historic Snaregade street in the city’s historic center.
The Royal Theater is featured prominently in the film along with the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts at Charlottenborg Palace, where Einar and Gerda met as students.
This delightful tale follows a young Irish immigrant named Eilis who is navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. It is nominated in the best picture category, and Saoirse Ronan, who plays Eilis, is nominated for lead actress. Nick Hornby is nominated for writing the adapted screenplay.
The movie offers a look at two distinctly different beach experiences.
There’s the packed-like-sardines carnival atmosphere of Brooklyn’s Coney Island in its heyday. A modest Eilis, unaware of the American custom of wearing a “swim costume” under her clothes, is assisted by her charming Italian American beau, Tony, who kindly holds up a towel to hide her from prying eyes as she changes.
In contrast are the unspoiled white shores of Curracloe Beach in County Wexford, Ireland, where Eilis returns to visit her mother. She and a group of friends stroll along the deserted 7-mile-long strand known for its soft, fine sand and sprawling dunes protected by green marram grass.
Hard to imagine, but this was also the same location used for the gruesome opening sequence of the D-day landings in “Saving Private Ryan.”
Just 12 miles away is Enniscorthy, the quaint hometown of “Brooklyn” author Colm Tóibín. Several scenes were filmed at St. Aidan’s Cathedral on Castle Street and at the Athenaeum building.
Info: Wexford Hub; Coney Island USA
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
If forced to choose a winner for best film location, I would vote for Skellig Michael, an island west of Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry in southwestern Ireland. This idyllic site is the location for a climactic scene from “The Force Awakens.”
This UNESCO World Heritage site, rising 600 feet above the sea and spanning 54 acres, was once inhabited by ascetic monks, perhaps as early as the 6th century. A monastery sits on a terraced shelf with six beehive cells, two oratories, a medieval church and two lighthouses. The island is also an important site for breeding seabirds.
May the Force be with those who dare to climb the 615 rocky steps on the 590-foot ascent to the monastery. Note that there are no toilets on the island, and the boat excursions that take you to the island last up to five hours.
In this sci-fi thriller, which got Oscar nods for original screenplay and visual effects, the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Alstad in far northwest Norway (about 800 miles from Oslo) stands in for a fictional secluded hideout. This is where an eccentric tech billionaire is experimenting with artificial intelligence. (Think futuristic female androids.)
The Juvet, a boutique hotel, is set in a nature preserve on a sheer river bank surrounded by a spectacular gorge and waterfalls. Individual Modernist structures, described as boxes on stilts, were built into a steep, natural levee in the rural farmstead of Burtigarden.
Guests can choose from seven double rooms, all with expansive views of nature. These detached “cube” rooms feature one or two walls of glass.
There are also “birdhouses,” minimalist single rooms that mimic a Norwegian log house.
Or you can choose to stay in one of the old buildings — such as a mill house or a mountain cabin. Meals are served communally in an old barn.
Nearby is the 65-foot-deep Gudbrandsjuvet Gorge with whirlpools, walkways, a viewing platform, café and, according to local folklore, a Nordic fountain of youth.
A double room with breakfast begins at $180 per person.
Info: Juvet Landscape Hotel
“Cinderella” and “Spectre”
What could a beloved fairy tale and a testosterone-fueled MI-6 spy caper possibly have in common?
Other than their Oscar nominations — “Cinderella” is nominated for costume design and “Spectre” is nominated for original song for Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes’ “Writing’s on the Wall” — the other answer is Blenheim Palace.
Blenheim, the opulent childhood home of Winston Churchill in Oxfordshire in south England, is about 90 minutes by car from London or Birmingham.
With its 18th-century Baroque architecture and its maze of hallways and staircases, the grand estate is equally suitable for a make-believe princess crashing a magical ball or a debonair secret agent chasing bad guys.
The exterior courtyard of Blenheim doubled as Palazzo Cadenza in Rome for one of 007’s high-end car chases in “Spectre.”
A three-minute walk from Blenheim is the Feathers at Woodstock Hotel. The upscale inn is made up of three former 17th century town houses, one of which was used by Oliver Cromwell during the English civil war. It even offers its own James Bond cocktail, the Vesper martini.
Info: Blenheim Palace
During his annual visit to a luxury spa in the foothills of the Alps, a retired composer, played by Michael Caine, reflects on his life while being pursued to conduct one last performance for the queen in this Italian comedy-drama.
The movie’s “Simple Song No. 3” was nominated for an original song Oscar.
Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa, used extensively in “Youth,” was built in 1877 and is about 3,600 feet above sea level. It consists of three main buildings; the classical feudal Grand Hotel Waldhaus, the rustic Grand Chalet Belmont and Villa Silvana. Nearby, you can find downhill skiing, biking and refreshing bathing lakes.
Other scenes in “Youth” were filmed just 90 minutes away at the Hotel Schatzalp in Davos. The hotel features a funicular, botanical gardens and a restaurant that overlooks Davos.
Info: Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa; Hotel Schatzalp in Davos
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