With the Oscars fast approaching, there’s lots of talk about what movie might scoop the most awards. Actors from all over the globe will be flying in to Hollywood on March 4th to celebrate a night of movie magnificence. From Pixar-animated Coco to The Shape of Water, we’re going to run you through why you should visit the places where these spectacular films are set!
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
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Three Billboards stars Frances McDormand (up for best actress) playing Mildred Hayes, a distressed mother who’s trying to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. But where exactly is Ebbing, Missouri do you ask? Fictional. It’s not actually a real place at all. The town of Sylva in North Carolina is the mountain town that ‘Ebbing’ is set in. A very small and picturesque town with a population of just 3,000. The Jackson County Public Library offers great views of the main street and the mountains surrounding the town. Formally the county courthouse, the library is considered to be the most photographed courthouse in North Carolina.
The actual three billboards are no longer there, however the road that they’re on is scenic enough to warrant the drive. Judaculla Rock is certainly worth a visit. A sacred site for the Cherokee Indians before the colonization of North America, this soapstone boulder can still be visited. The rock features carvings that no one knows how they got there. Another fantastic visit would be to head to the location of ‘The Fugitive’ train wreck. The carnage is still left over from the collision seen at the end of the film. As it was made before CGI effects, they used a full size bus and put it in the path of an oncoming freight train, leaving nothing but destruction; as the bus was nearly torn in half by the impact. There are some weird and wonderful things to do here that must be seen to be believed!
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Up for 13 awards is The Shape of Water. The love story between a mute, isolated woman working as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high security government laboratory and a mysterious, scaled sea creature found in the rivers of South America. The film features some spectacular and interesting filming locations. Mostly filmed in Hamilton and Ontario, Canada; the film is set in Baltimore around 1963. You can visit the exteriors of the research facility, as it is filmed in the John Andrews building in the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto. The film premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival in the Elgin Theatre, where the water man visits. This beautiful theatre has events happening throughout the year from comedians like Michael McIntyre to jazz festivals.
There’s plenty of other things to see and do in Ontario. Aside from the waterfall itself, Niagara Falls State park offers a wide variety of attractions and tours. From the Adventure Theatre that brings incredible stories and history to life to the observation tower that provides unobstructed views of the falls. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada was initially planned to be built in Niagara Falls, but relocated to Toronto. This sublime museum holds 5.7 million litres of water, allowing you to immerse yourself in the deep blue sea. Ripley’s showcases around 13,500 different species of sea animals, from sharks to green sea turtles and stingrays. You can even get personal with the sea creatures and live out your own ‘Shape of Water’ experience in the touch tanks. Ripley’s Aquarium is located at the base of the sensational CN Tower, so make sure you head up the 553m high structure for some unrivalled views!
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This American comedy-drama is up for five awards. Lady Bird is all about an outspoken teen that must navigate a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother over the course of an eventful senior year of high school. But it’s the setting of Sacramento that has us interested! Visit the beautiful, coloured murals gracing the walls of American Market and Deli or walk around the Fabulous Forties neighbourhood. The Fabulous Forties is known as the place where President Ronald Reagan lived during his term as governor of California. If you’re feeling romantic, head to the McKinley Rose Garden, seen in the film as Lady Bird and Danny first express their love for each other. The garden first started as a private flower patch in the 20th century and has slowly turned into a 1.5 acre garden with more than 1,200 rose bushes and is now a staple of Sacramento.
There are lots of museums to visit, including the California State Museum; home to California’s rich history, ideas and innovation, the arts and culture. The museum tries to persuade everyone to pursue the Californian dream through innovative and interactive experiences. Capitol Park is located at the heart of Sacramento and the gardens hold trees from all around the world. Don’t miss the International World Peace Rose Gardens, which features more than 650 roses in over 140 colours! The walkways lead to a centre courtyard with a fountain and heart-shaped seating wall. Lovely!
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Though it may sound odd to be suggesting Coco… it is set in Mexico during the Day of the Dead festival. As the film is completely animated, we’ll be the first to admit there’s nowhere you can go to visit a filming location on this one! However, the Dia de los Muertos is definitely something you should visit in Mexico. Celebrated between 31st October and 2nd November across the country, Mexicans get together to remember and honour their deceased loved ones, just like in the film! Each city and village will have different ways of celebrating the day, but all will feature phenomenal foods. Pan de Muertos is ‘day of the dead bread’ and is prepared and eaten during the season, alongside sugar skulls and pumpkin candy!
Oaxaca is a place where you can visit vigils in the cities cemeteries and comparsas (night time processions). It is one of the places that you will see Coco truly come to life. It’s magical throughout the year, but particularly so throughout Dia de los Muertos. The many alters of prayer are like works of art, so it is no surprise that schools and social organisations hold contests for the best ones! There are markets for you to sample some of the foods and even a souvenir, as almost everyone goes there to buy things to decorate their alter. A trip to the market during Day of the Dead is a special experience, just beware of the crowds and don’t get lost!
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
This coming-of-age drama based on the novel of the same name is set in the idyllic northern Italy. A romance blossoms between a seventeen year-old student and the older man hired as his father's research assistant. Lombardy is the filming location for the film and when you see it, you’ll fall in love too. Lombardy takes up a fair chunk of Italy and houses some of its most popular places such as Milan, Lake Garda and Lake Como. The villa in the film is just by the Swiss border and is filled with 1980s charm. This eight bedroom and seven bathroom house has 15,000 square foot of living space as well as multiple fireplaces, terrace, balcony and massive garden. The Villa is up for sale so if you fancy buying it, the asking price is a cool €1.7million. Visit the Duromo di Milano or the Milan Cathedral as we know it, and be astounded by its beauty. It is the seat to the archbishop of Milan and took six centuries to build… so it should look nice really! The best part is taking the lift to the roof, where you will see the spires and sculptures up close. Climb the 50 steps and you’ll reach the highest terraces, close to the main spire which hosts the golden statue of the Virgin Mary.
If you are up for something a bit more adventurous then be sure to check out the Brescia underground, a labyrinth of tunnels waiting to be discovered. You can go on an educational tour and find out the history behind these hidden waterways. The tour is full of surprises that you’ll witness with your own eyes. Rather than going underground, why not take a hike? The Stelvio Pass is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps. It’s known as one of the greatest driving roads in the world. Though it’s not the most beautiful, it certainly is HIGH! Grab yourself a vintage Fiat and drive around 48 hairpin turns. What’s more romantic than a long drive with the roof down?