Visit the real-life locations of this year's Academy Award-nominated movies
This year’s Academy Award–nominated films feature a far-flung range of settings, from familiar cities such as Boston and New York to other—both real and fictional—planets. The challenge for each film crew, particularly the production designer, is to find the perfect places to shoot, balancing the needs of the story and the often tight budget. If you’re looking for a silver-screen–worthy vacation spot or a chance to walk in the footsteps of your favorite stars, look no further than the real-life locations of the hottest films of 2015.
The Martian Until humans actually shoot on Mars, Wadi Rum, Jordan, may be the closest thing. The area stood in for the Red Planet in Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which is nominated for seven Oscars. The film’s production designer, Arthur Max, told Architectural Digest, “For reasons of authenticity, I showed everybody some photos of actual Mars landscapes and some location pictures I’d taken in Wadi Rum and said, ‘Can you tell me which one is Mars?’ And no one was able to tell the difference.”
In Brooklyn, based on the book by Colm Tóibín, a young woman finds a new life in the U.S. but must return to her native Ireland after a family tragedy. The hometown scenes were shot in Enniscorthy, which is also Tóibín’s birthplace and the location used in the novel. The quaint Irish village has embraced its connection to the book and film and offers a Brooklyn map or a guided bus tour.
While Montreal stands in for Brooklyn in most of the film, which is nominated in three categories, the production did shoot at Coney Island. “We shot there the week before Memorial Day, because we knew if we waited too much longer it would be impossible,” production designer François Séguin told AD. The digital effects team used CGI to restore the location to its 1950s glory.
Mad Max: Fury Road
To see the backdrop of George Miller’s latest postapocalyptic film, which is up for ten awards, head to the deserts of Namibia. The area is a popular destination for safaris, a far more luxurious means of travel than Furiosa’s War Rig.
While Todd Haynes’s latest film, Carol, was set in 1950s New York, the six-time nominee was actually shot in Cincinnati. Various downtown locations were repurposed for the movie, including the Cincinnati Club, which stood in for the Oak Room, and the former Oskamp Nolting and Shillito’s department stores, which were used to create the set of Frankenberg’s.
Bridge of Spies
Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge, the site of a historic prisoner exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1962, reprised the role for Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. Production designer Adam Stockhausen and his team added barbed wire, sniper posts, and guard huts to reflect the Cold War environment.
The snowy landscapes of Alberta, Canada, stood in for the wilds of South Dakota in writer-director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. To find the right locations, production designer Jack Fisk and supervising location manager Robin Mounsey scouted the region almost daily for several months, primarily on foot. “The important thing was to find places that were different enough from each other so you had an idea that you were traveling,” Fisk told AD.
The Danish Girl
While much of The Danish Girl, which is nominated for four Academy Awards, was filmed on soundstages in England, the crew also shot in Copenhagen, the real-life home of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. The city’s historic harbor was used in several scenes, as was the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Director Alex Garland’s sci-fi film Ex Machina, which is nominated for two Oscars, was filmed at two Norwegian properties designed by Jensen & Skodvin Architects: a private residence and the Juvet Landscape Hotel. The hotel is built in a nature preserve and features seven double-occupancy rooms set into their surroundings.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Puzzlewood, in the Forest of Dean near Gloucestershire, England, serves as the forests of planet Takodana in J.J. Abrams’s reboot of the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, which is nominated for five Oscars.
The Hateful Eight
The snowy surroundings of Telluride, Colorado, served as the treacherous backdrop for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which is nominated in three categories. While the main set, Minnie’s Haberdashery, was supposed to be in Wyoming, production designer Yohei Taneda built it on the Schmid Family Ranch, which features views of Wilson Peak and the Rocky Mountains.