Top 10 Oscar-worthy filming locations of the year

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In addition to fame and fortune, Hollywood’s biggest stars also have the opportunity to travel to impressive hot spots while on set. With the award season in full swing, we’ve cast our votes for our top 10 filming locations from the past year. Read on to see where we wish we could have gone on location, too!

New Zealand, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

In the latest film adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s bestselling novel, “The Hobbit,” famous fictional land “Middle Earth” is actually New Zealand. The final movie in “The Hobbit” trilogy concludes the adventure of Bilbo Baggins and his cohort. It’s no surprise that New Zealand director/producer Peter Jackson chose to shoot the films in his home country. The climate, greenery and mountainous peaks of the island country match up with Tolkien’s vivid imagery. In honor of the blockbuster movie, Air New Zealand even produced airline safety videos (which were also filmed down under) starring cast members of “The Hobbit.”

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Southland, New Zealand (Image: Jocelyn Kinghorn used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

India, “Million Dollar Arm”

Based on a true story, Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” stars Jon Hamm as American sports agent J.B. Bernstein. After watching a game of cricket on television, Bernstein is inspired to travel to India, where he hopes to find the next Major League Baseball star. Hamm, along with other cast and crew members, really got to take the trip to India, where they acted in front of famous spots like the Taj Mahal and Mumbai street markets, as well as lesser-known Indian villages.

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The Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India (image: LASZLO ILYES)

Iceland, “Interstellar”

In one of the most talked about films of the past year, a group of astronauts, played by A-list actors including Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, travel through a wormhole in an attempt to save humanity. Much of the sci-fi thriller was actually filmed in Iceland, which provided director Christopher Nolan with frozen landscapes ready to be cast as far away worlds. The country’s Svínafellsjökull glacier is particularly featured, serving as the snow-capped backdrop for McConaughey in many of the film’s posters. This isn’t the first time that Iceland has been used for its cinematic allure. Popular HBO show “Game of Thrones,” as well as the 2014 biblical drama “Noah,” were both filmed in the Nordic island nation.

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Iceland’s Svínafellsjökull Glacier is used as a backdrop in Interstellar. (image: Sela Yair)

New York City, United States, “Begin Again”

There’s no other city in the world quite like New York City, which is why the Big Apple made the perfect backdrop for heartfelt romantic comedy “Begin Again.” Like director John Carney’s previous lyrical film “Once,” the setting of “Begin Again” plays a significant role in its plot. Keira Knightley stars as Gretta, the soft-spoken songwriter who heads to the city with her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) after he lands a record deal. With the help of a down-on-his-luck record executive (Mark Ruffalo), Gretta uses the city as her muse to record her own music, a process that enables her to heal from her and Dave’s eventual breakup. The movie captures the essence of Manhattan, ranging from the bright lights of Times Square to the charm of the Lower East Side.

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New York City takes on its own character in the rom-com Begin Again. (image: nosha)
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Times Square (image: Neo_II)

Sussex, England, “Maleficent”

Disney’s fantasy film, which is based on the beloved fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” was shot in England’s countryside. In the blockbuster, Angelina Jolie stars as the title character, a vengeful fairy who puts a curse on a king’s infant daughter. The rural filming location offered directors sweeping landscapes, verdant trees and natural wildlife, combining to form the movie’s mystical setting. Specifically, many of the movie’s scenes were filmed in Sussex’s Petworth Park, a 700-acre area with rolling hills and lavish lakes, ideal for the backdrop of Maleficent’s forest kingdom.

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West Sussex, England (image: Phillip Capper)

Pacific Crest Trail, United States, “Wild”

Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, “Wild,” starring and produced by Reese Witherspoon, depicts a young woman’s journey to find herself on a 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in western North America. After a downward spiral following her mother’s death and her own divorce, Strayed seeks clarity throughout the strenuous, but breathtaking, hike from California‘s Mojave Desert up through Washington State. The majority of the movie’s scenes were filmed in Oregon, which provided the director with mountainous views, foliage and serene sunsets ideal for a dramatic comeback story.

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The strenuous Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada, with stops throughout California, Oregon and Washington. (image: Sheila Sund)
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Mount Hood in Oregon (image: Thomas Shahan)

Sun City, South Africa, “Blended”

Although Adam Sandler’s 2014 comedy “Blended” won’t win any Academy Awards, it did give cast and crew members, including Drew Barrymore and Bella Thorne, the chance to visit South Africa. The flick, in which single parents Lauren (Barrymore) and Jim (Sandler) accidentally end up on the same family vacation after a blind date gone wrong, was filmed in the Palace of the Lost City hotel. The extravagant five-star resort boasts grand architecture, upscale dining, casinos and more. Sandler even admitted in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel that he tends to use his movies as an excuse to go on vacation. With amenities like that, we can’t blame him.

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Palace of the Lost City resort in South Africa (image: Nathan Hughes Hamilton)

France, “Hundred Foot Journey”

Produced by A-listers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, and starring Oscar-winner Helen Mirren, “The Hundred Foot Journey” tells the tale of an Indian family who relocates to the French countryside. While there, they open a restaurant and are forced to compete with an established French eatery located just 100 feet away. In addition to featuring plenty of culinary masterpieces, the film, which was filmed in Paris as well as small towns in France, also stars scenic snapshots of the country. From food to fashion and scenery, it’s no wonder why they say, “Paris is always a good idea.”

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The French countryside (image: A Guy Taking Pictures)

Görlitz, Germany, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Although you can’t really stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel, you can soak up the history, architecture and scenery of Eastern Germany. Believe it or not, the elaborate resort in Wes Anderson’s nine-time Oscar-nominated film is actually an out-of-business German department store. The critically acclaimed film tells the story of a concierge at the famed Grand Budapest Hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka pre-World War II. Hollywood magic transformed the defunct store located in Görlitz, Germany, into the interior of the luxe hotel depicted in the movie. Görlitz, a town 60 miles from Dresden on the Germany-Poland border, is no stranger to the silver screen. The location was also used for select scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” as well as “Around the World in 80 Days” starring Jackie Chan, and has seen a spike in tourism since its latest starring role. Although directors of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” used a miniature hotel model to film the exterior shots of the resort, they took inspiration from the facade of the Palace Bristol Hotel in the Czech Republic, as shown below.

Palace Bristol Hotel, one of the inspirations for the film. (Image: Richard Schubert used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
Palace Bristol Hotel, one of the inspirations for the film. (Image: Richard Schubert used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

San Francisco, United States & Tokyo, Japan, “Big Hero 6”

San Fransokyo, a fictitious hybrid of San Francisco & Tokyo, is the setting of Disney’s Oscar-nominated animated film “Big Hero 6.” The urban backdrop borrows qualities from both the American and Japanese metropolises, such as tweaking the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to reflect the style of a Japanese temple.  Although the computer-animated movie was actually created in a Walt Disney Animation studio, its directors took inspiration from the real-life west coast and far east hot spots, drawing upon the original architecture and tech-savvy nature of both San Francisco and Tokyo throughout the film.

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San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge inspired the setting of Big Hero 6. (image: Kārlis Dambrāns)
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Tokyo skyline (image: Luke Ma)
Top 10 Oscar-worthy filming locations of the year was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Stephanie Schaefer
Author: Stephanie Schaefer (6 posts)

Stephanie is a Boston native who loves to find ways to escape New England winters. She’s thrown a coin in the Trevi Fountain, sipped wine on a vineyard in Northern Spain and swam in the Mediterranean Sea. Although she hasn’t been everywhere, it’s definitely on her list.