This year’s Oscar frontrunners have turned the cinematic spotlight on some particularly intriguing locations, from the phenomenal, crashing splendour of Iguazu (Black Panther) to the Jacobean stately home of Hatfield House (the Favourite). Forget who’s going to win Best Picture. Instead let’s look at what supplies the best travel inspiration.
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, UK – the Favourite
The Oscar for the best historical settings goes to… the Favourite. Built by King James I’s Chief Minister, Robert Cecil, in 1611, magnificent Hatfield House is still in the Cecil family. Most of the filming took place here, with the building standing in for Kensington Palace. The King James Drawing Room, hung with distinctive blue-green tapestries, and its Marble Hall with its chessboard-like floor, are immediately recognisable, the latter for a duck race and a courtly dance. Other settings used include the 15th-century Divinity School at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, which you can visit via guided tour, and Henry VIII’s riverside palace Hampton Court.
Paris, France – Cold War
This ill-fated love story between a composer and young singer, filmed in lush, sumptuous monochrome, is aesthetically exquisite. Their relationship plays across Berlin, Poland and Yugoslavia, against the backdrop of the Cold War, but the winner in terms of travel inspiration? It was always going to be Paris. Smoke-filled jazz clubs and a sequence along the Seine underlines the city’s status as the world’s most romantic, even if it doesn’t do these protagonists any good.
LA & Coachella, California, USA – A Star is Born
A Star is Born inhabits the world of California’s outdoor festivals and lively music scene, with dive bars on Sunset Boulevard seen on screen. To ensure authenticity, filming took place at the high-glamour Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and country festival Stagecoach, which both take place at the Polo Club (a scene was also shot at the UK’s Glastonbury). Once Ally (Lady Gaga) has shot to fame, she’s filmed, where else, but in Hollywood insiders’ favourite hotel, the Chateau Marmont, also on Sunset Boulevard.
Iguazu, Argentina & Brazil – Black Panther
You won’t find flights anytime soon to Wakanda, the imaginary African setting for Marvel’s Black Panther. However, you can pay a visit to the incredible Warrior Falls. This scene was filmed in Iguazù, which straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil. This is the world’s largest waterfall system, nearly 3km long, and lies within two national parks, one in each country, which also encompasses a tangle of rainforest, busy with colourful birds and wildlife.
Mexico City, Mexico – Roma
Beautifully shot, black and white Roma, set in 1970s Mexico City, is all about its location. The Roma neighbourhood was mostly built in the 19th century as the aristocracy moved west from the overcrowded centre, and consequently has some splendid architecture. The Norte (north) area is the hipster zone, leafy, with cafes, bars, restaurants, trees. However, Roma Sur (south) is where the film is based, with florid Art Deco buildings and a thoroughly local feel. The director Alfonso Cuaron’s real childhood house lies just across the street from the address used in the film.
Arles, France – At Eternity’s Gate
Starring Willem Dafoe as Van Gogh, At Eternity’s Gate is Julian Schnabel’s film about the painter’s time in Arles and Auvers, and one of the most alluring, destination-wise, of the whole Oscar-nominated crop. It’s a visual delight, with dappled Provencal landscapes and fields of sunflowers under iris-blue skies. Idyllic time guaranteed (unless you’re a tortured genius).
Yosemite National Park, California, USA – Free Solo
Free Solo, nominated in the documentary category, is an extraordinary film about free-climber Alex Honnold scaling the 900m sheer granite face of El Capitan. You may want to watch through your fingers, but as it’s filmed by a team from National Geographic, it’s unsurprising that these are some of the most spectacularly shot landscapes this year. It may inspire you visit Yosemite, but whether you’ll want to take to a rock face is another matter.
New Mexico & Colorado, USA – the Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Coen Brothers’ film features six stand-alone fables, with a typical character list of grotesques and innocents. At every turn, these inhabit magnificent landscapes in America’s deep south, including surreally beautiful places such as the otherworldly chimney rocks of Ghost Ranch in New Mexico in the first chapter. The Wild West town is filmed at veteran film location Bonanza Creek Ranch, built in 1955, which may be visited via guided tour. The astounding snow-tipped mountainscapes for two of the episodes were both shot in Colorado, close to Denver, and at the Upper Piney River, which has a beautiful walking trail.
London, UK – Mary Poppins Returns
The London of Mary Poppins Returns has something in common with the city of the Paddington films: the protagonists live on the kind of leafy, blossom-filled, Regency-era street that you find in Notting Hill, Primrose Hill, Hampstead, Kensington and Chelsea, and features some of London’s greatest landmarks, including Buckingham Palace and the Mall, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England. Showcasing some of London’s prettiest features, it’s inspiration for travel a bit closer to home.