Whichever film wins the 2015 Oscar tonight, you can add it to your own personal bucket list destination to visit. Here are four Oscar-nominated films and their real life – or reel life – locations.
The 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which stretches from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington, is much more than just a pretty backdrop for the Reese Witherspoon film. It’s the driving force in the story, a mission by real-life protagonist Cheryl Strayed to overcome physical and mental obstacles by hiking solo more than a thousand miles. The PCT has seen a surge of interest after the release of the movie, with website traffic increasing by 300 per cent, while requests for long-distance walk permits have also grown.
It’s easy to dip in and dip out of the PCT — you can go for a few hours, a day or a longer walk with overnight stays.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association can recommend many popular, accessible stretches of the route, including around Mount Baden-Powell near Los Angeles; Mount Rainier; and Goat Rocks near Seattle. Or if you prefer something epic, the best time of year for higher elevations and more northern parts of the trail is June to September. For the southern areas in California, fall and spring are preferable. Those who intend to hike the entire route should begin in May in order to finish by early autumn.
Wes Anderson’s film is not based on any one particular hotel — but it was inspired by several, including The Savoy in London, Hotel Adlon in Berlin and the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, which was also a location for Bond movie Casino Royale. The Grand Budapest’s interior is not a hotel, but an unused department store in Görlitz, 60 miles east of Dresden, Germany, near the German-Polish border. The abandoned Art Nouveau Görlitzer Warenhaus was built in 1913 and discovered by Anderson on a scouting trip. The columns, staircases and chandelier were already part of the store, while the remainder of the set was purpose-built.
A stay in the Grandhotel Pupp costs from £113 per night per single room — and it’s well worth it for the chance to see one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful historic towns. Alternatively, make your way to Görlitz — the Görlitzer Warenhaus store has been bought by an investor inspired by the film and is currently undergoing renovations, but the town has also served as a location for films including Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, The Book Thief, The Monuments Men, Around the World in 80 Days and The Reader.
This historical thriller is based on the biography of Alan Turing — played by Benedict Cumberbatch — the British cryptanalyst who helped crack the Enigma code during the Second World War. Filming took place in a variety of locations around the UK including Dorset, King’s Cross station in London and the disused Aldwych Underground station in the Strand. However, the main location was Bletchley Park, a Victorian mansion in Buckinghamshire, which served as the central site of the United Kingdom’s Government Code and Cypher School during the Second World War. Known as Station X, it was here that Turing had a hand in the invention of the world’s first programmable computer, a giant machine called Colossus that enabled him to crack codes quickly by process of elimination. As the war progressed, Bletchley grew to become a hidden city of 10,000 people working in hastily constructed huts.
You can visit Bletchley Park on a day trip from London, where an exhibition about the making of The Imitation Game movie is on view through November 1, 2015, in the very room where the bar scenes were filmed. Exhibits include costumes worn by stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and a reproduction of the bar and a German Enigma machine, like the one used in the film. Also on display are the secret documents and intercepts, a replica of the prototype Bombe machine that Turing names Christopher, a copy of the famous crossword puzzle published in The Telegraph.
Selma is located high on the banks of the Alabama River in Dallas County, Alabama, made famous for the three marches from Selma to the Alabama state capital in Montgomery in 1965, which are at the core of the Oscar-nominated production. Led by Martin Luther King Jr, the 54-mile walk along the highway showed the desire of black Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression. As we all know, the marches helped prompt the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the pioneering victories of the civil rights movement. One of the most powerful scenes in the film shows the marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge — the exact location of the Bloody Sunday conflict in 1965. The overpass became a national landmark in 2013.
Those interested in learning more about the Selma marches should visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated. It’s a five-hour drive north of Selma, in Memphis, Tennessee.
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic marches, and also the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
This article was adapted from one published in Country by Country, a British magazine.
Photos courtesy of their respective movie production companies.