Top 10 Oscar-Nominated Filming Locations

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

It might be yesterday's news, but COVID-19 has officially made the filming industry its punching bag; from pilot season to blockbusters, production, scripts, and budgets keep treading the uncertain future with jelly legs. Nonetheless, the 94th Academy Awards ceremony brought astonishing masterpieces and some of the most mesmerizing Oscar-nominated filming locations a pair of earthly eyes can witness. Without further ado, let the travel commence.

1. The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal's enthralling directorial debut featuring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson was shot on the picturesque island of Spetses, Greece. Although the initial filming location was intended to be somewhere in the U.S., the adaptation of Elena Ferrante's novella took an exotic turn. It landed in Attica due to pandemic-related filming restrictions. The juxtaposition of pristine white architecture and the Myrtoan Sea, with pine-infused beaches and jasmine bloom, elevates the aesthetic plane of the movie to an almost ethereal level. The film received three nominations in total. What a psychological masterpiece.

2. Dune

The history of cinema has come a long way since the majestic Citizen Kane. Ah, yes, Dune. Ten nominations, six wins, and not a soul gasped; it was, after all, expected and well-deserved. However, the acclaimed sci-fi giant owes a significant portion of its success to Wadi Rum, the barren and boundless landscape located in Jordan (also known as the Valley of the Moon). It wasn't the first time this vast, unearthly scenery was used in cinematography. Prometheus, The Martian, Arabia, Aladdin, and, of course - Star Wars (The Rise of Skywalker and Rogue One) have all borrowed Wadi Rum to serve as their story's home.

3. West Side Story

Steven Spielberg rarely disappoints. This second feature-length adaptation of the 1957 musical might not have performed as anticipated at the box office. Still, its undisputed quality certainly managed to secure seven nominations at the Academy Awards ceremony, including a shot at the Best Picture category. From Harlem, Washington Heights, and Manhattan to Brooklyn's Flatlands, the movie encapsulates and revives the magic of the city's multilayered spectrum. Let's face it; New York is the most photogenic place in the world. Despite the infamous myths surrounding its dark side, things many people believe prove to be anything but true.

4. CODA

Child of Deaf Adults has stolen an ocean of hearts, leaving the history of cinema forever changed. And for the better. Although nominated for (just) three Oscars, a big surprise ensued. Not only did the picture win all three categories, but we also witnessed Troy Kotsur winning the supporting actor award, becoming the first deaf male actor to hold an Oscar in his hands. The movie also took the "Best Picture" trophy. The heartwarming spectacle was shot just an hour northeast of Boston, in a 17th-century fishing town by the name of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

5. Belfast

It was shot in Belfast (quite a surprise there). Cinema titans Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, and Ciarán Hinds performed an acting symphony under Kenneth Branagh's baton. The Oscar-nominated film depicts a young boy's childhood becoming anything but idyllic through the country's unfortunate upheaval, with war and civil unrest in Northern Ireland marking the beginning of the Troubles and an end to the main character's innocence. Although the movie received seven nominations, Kenneth Branagh took home the golden statue for Best Original Screenplay.

6. Don't Look Up

Netflix's game is strong. Four of 27 nominations were snatched by this sobering cataclysm dark comedy. We can't escape climate change/end-of-the-world scenarios anymore. And we probably shouldn't, as it was more than invigorating (oddly enough) to absorb the movie's meta-message. The title failed to bag the golden boy, but its powerful premise was indeed felt (and loved) by many. As for the Oscar-nominated filming locations, Boston, Massachusetts, and its numerous locations did a fantastic job mimicking significant sites across the U.S.

7. Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro is back with an art-deco bang. The 1940s neo-noir psychological thriller secured four nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture. With Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, and Bradley Cooper giving it their finest performance, how it remained empty-handed is beyond fathomable. The dark masterpiece was predominantly shot in Buffalo, New York, and Toronto, Canada. If you're a certified movie buff contemplating relocation, experts from Roadway Moving advise you to consider filming locations epicenters for your next move. We're thinking New York, for sure.

8. Parallel Mothers

And, we're off to Madrid, Spain. Nothing like Spanish drama featuring Penélope Cruz. Despite just two nominations, its intensity and mesmerizing beauty will keep you glued to your seat until the very end of the closing credits. The premise: two pregnant women meet in a hospital room; the plot thickens, and lives intertwine. The movie was shot at several locations in Madrid, including Plaza e las Comendadoras, the URSO Hotel, the Barceló Market, the Hemingway Cocktail Bar, and Taberna de Angel Sierra (just in case you're planning on visiting any time soon).

9. Licorice Pizza

Paul Thomas Anderson's period comedy/drama may have resulted in phenomenal reviews and a whole lot of head nods. Still, unfortunately, it failed to cash it in on the big night (three Oscar nominations). All the same, it's a period piece, and it's beautiful. Los Angeles and the 1970s, it doesn't get any better than that. San Fernando Valley was the backbone of the movie set, with multiple locations covering Woodland Hills, Van Nuys, Encino, and Canoga Park. Fun fact: one of the most famous joints, the Tail O' the Cock restaurant, which closed in 1987, was recreated for shooting purposes.

10. The Power of the Dog

Recognizing an iconic filming location in NYC is easy, but how can we tell if U.S. Montana moved to New Zealand? We watch the Power of the Dog, a buttocks-clenching movie conveying a strong message about our deepest urges. Out of 12 nominations, the movie walked away with a single Oscar in the Best Director category (not too shabby!). Lindis Valley, Dunedin, Oamaru, and Queenstown were the primary filming locations. And just like Wadi Rum, Jordan, this New Zealand gem's glory is anything but young and new. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were also shot here.

Final words

Now, that was quite a ride. We hope you enjoyed our top 10 Oscar-nominated filming locations. If you're already contemplating a trip to a movie set, we support you.

 

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About the Author

Vikram Mcculloch
Vikram Mcculloch
Vikram Mcculloch is a freelance blogger currently residing in Seattle, Washington. You'll find him in a local movie theater catching up on the classics he somehow missed when he's not blogging away.

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