It’s that time of year when the list of movies you want to see becomes longer than a Michael Bay directed action scene. The Oscars are this month, and some of the flicks up for nomination have been filmed in seriously wanderlust-worthy locations.
Don’t just sit there with itchy feet. Discover the places where some of the potential Academy Award winners were made – and book your next trip ASAP.
#1 The Revenant
Where: Canada, the US and Patagonia
The movie that could finally deliver Leonardo DiCaprio his long-awaited Oscar was filmed in remote locations across North and South America, and the vistas of untouched wilderness compete with Leo to be the star of the show. Those scenes of sweeping, snow-filled valleys and icy peaks were filmed in Alberta, Canada, Montana in the US (which has to be one of the most underrated places in the country for stunning nature) and Ushuaia in Argentina, part of Patagonia referred to as ‘the end of the earth’ due to its location on the southernmost tip of the continent.
#2 Mad Max: Fury Road
Where: Namibia and Australia
While George Miller and his team had planned to film the latest Mad Max instalment in the Outback like the first three films, the area around Broken Hill in regional NSW where they’d intended to shoot had recently experienced unusually high rainfall, meaning the land was far too green and flowering to look post-apocalyptic.
So production was moved to Namibia, with the dry, cracked red sands of the Namib Desert and the stark Skeleton Coast providing the perfect barren landscape. Visiting these areas is possible with African tour operators offering itineraries varying in levels of luxury. But for a Mad Max inspired trip closer to home, you can visit a museum dedicated to the saga in Silverton, near Broken Hill.
#3 The Hateful Eight
Where: Colorado, USA
Quentin Tarantino’s latest blockbuster was filmed entirely in the state of Colorado in the US, the picturesque plains making the perfect backdrop for a western. It’s understood Colorado was chosen over other possible US states for its likelihood of snow, which is a key element of the plot. A significant portion of the movie was filmed at Schmid Ranch, a stunning property just outside of Telluride in the south-west of the state. Snow bunnies will already be familiar with the plentiful ski resorts in Colorado, but the state offers plentiful options for outdoor activities at any time of year. State capital Denver attracts liberal, bohemian types from all over the US.
#4 The Martian
Where: Wadi Rum, Jordan
Directors have been imitating the landscape of Mars for the sake of cinema for decades, so Ridley Scott knew exactly where to film his epic starring Matt Damon: Wadi Rum, Jordan. The desert region in the the south-west of the country really looks like the surface of the red planet thanks to its unusual rock formations, crimson sand and general lack of signs of life. Wadi Rum is popular with hikers and rock climbers, and the easiest way to visit is on a day trip from nearby Aqaba or Petra. Adventurous types can also opt to stay overnight to sleep under the desert sky.
You don’t want to visit where Sicario is set – the Mexico/United States border where drug-related violence is a daily occurrence. But if the movie gets you in the mood to eat tacos, drinks Coronas and habla español there are many parts of Mexico that are very safe – like the Yucatan Peninsula, where you’ll find the turquoise water and white sand beaches of your Insta dreams.
Sicario was partially shot in Mexico City, which offers a mind-blowing array of world class museums, galleries and restaurants. Tip: stay in so-hip-it-hurts ‘hood Condesa, where you’ll find cool boutique hotels and trendy bars and eateries on its tree-lined streets.
#6 Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Where: Iceland, Ireland, England, Abu Dhabi…
… and the list goes on, according to the movie’s filming locations information on IMDB. The latest instalment in the franchise was shot in the active volcanic region of Mývatn in northern Iceland, at locations such as the Krafla: an 818-metre high volcano that has a crater filled with an oddly bright green lake. The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England, the Rub’ al Khali desert, two hours outside of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Ireland’s picturesque island of Skellig Michael also served as other-worldly backdrops for the epic.
#7 Ex Machina
Fans of this compelling psychological-thriller-meets-sci-fi flick will want to book a room at the Juvet Landscape Hotel in the small Norwegian village of Valldal. Filming took place over two weeks at the boutique property (it’s company CEO Nathan’s countryside retreat in the film), which sits between two mountains and above a crystal-clear river. Each of the seven uber-modern cabins feature floor-to-celling glass windows, allowing the spectacular nature outside to take centre stage. It also has a luxurious spa complete with steam room, outdoor hot tub and fireplace.
#8 The Big Short
Where: New York City, New Orleans, Miami and Las Vegas
The Best Picture nominee with an all-star cast of Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling offers up an alluring American adventure itinerary. It focuses on a crew of Wall Street financiers who predict the 2008 US housing loan bust, although only minimal scenes were shot in NYC. Principal filming took place in New Orleans and nearby areas of Louisiana, with the actors coming face-to-face with a swamp-lurking alligator in one scene. The savvy band of bankers also hit-up Malibu in California and Las Vegas for some The Wolf Of Wall Street style antics.
Erin Van Der Meer is a formerly Sydney-based writer who decided the whole desk job thing just didn’t allow enough time for travel. So she quit said job, bought a flight to Mexico and has been living out of a suitcase ever since. Keep track of her latest adventures on Instagram or Twitter.