With the 93rd Academy Awards hitting the States this weekend, what a time to start that wanderlust brewing with a few inspirations for those future escapes, complete with the love of film – of course!
The 93rd Academy Awards take place on 26 April, and those lovely folks at Visit The USA have been revisiting some all-time American classics that will transport viewers to the destination. Of course, home to Hollywood and heralded as the epicentre of cinema, the U.S. has received its fair share of Oscars over the years, and those hits keep on coming, if this year’s BAFTAs are anything to go by! Below, we’ve got five Oscar-nominated or winning films in which the U.S is an integral character.
From traversing across the great American West in Nomadland, to being whisked off on a musical journey across the Deep South in Green Book, or hitting up New York streets in West Side Story – below is a portal to the United States….
Experience the serenity of American West in Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland
Chloé Zhao, the first Asian woman to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Director, is primarily known for her work in independent U.S. films and Nomadland is no exception. Her film takes a deep dive into the American West, taking viewers on a monumental journey across some of America’s most dramatic landscapes, including Point Arena in Mendocino County, California, where the waves of the Pacific Ocean meet with the cliff line, or the bold greenery in San Bernardino National Forest, east of Los Angeles. This nomadic road film follows protagonist Fern (Frances McDormand) in her Ford campervan as she leaves Nevada and travels to the Badlands of South Dakota for a new start, before moving to Nebraska for the autumn beetroot harvest and then further west to Arizona. McDormand’s request to use location shooting for various scenes within the film adds to the visual intensity, offering the viewer moving snapshots of the American landscapes, particularly when shooting in the likes of Black Rock Desert, Nevada. In the opening of the film’s trailer, a character turns to Fern and says, “you are one of those lucky people who can travel anywhere,” and Nomadland’s narrative and cinematography perfectly articulates the liberation of travelling across the United States via the open road. Following in Fern’s footsteps will offer travellers a tranquil yet mesmerising experience of the United States.
Join Thelma & Louise on an all-American road trip from Arkansas to Arizona
Not only did Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise receive a well-deserved Oscar in 1992, the film is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Thelma & Louise encapsulates the excitement and adventure of hitting the American open road, relishing in the twist and turns that are met along the way. It tells the story of female friendship and independence as Thelma and Louise embark on a fishing-trip, which soon turns into a flight from the law. In the film, the duo travelled from Arkansas, through New Mexico and to Arizona but, in reality, the film was primarily shot in California and Colorado—with California filling in for most of the Arkansas and Oklahoma scenes. The two women find freedom in leaving their hometown, as they journey down a road of laughter, dancing and romance, most notably at the Vagabond Inn which can be found in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). Despite the hard-hitting narrative, the road trip offers the pair a new lease of life. There is no better way to mark this iconic film’s 30th anniversary than by reliving Thelma and Louise’s road trip route when international travel resumes.
Visit some of the Deep South’s most iconic music venues in the Green Book
Based on a true story, Green Book (2018) celebrated three Oscar wins at the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film follows Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, the first Muslim to win Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight in 2017 and for Green Book in 2019), a world-class African-American pianist, embarks on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. In need of a driver and protection, Shirley recruits Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a tough-talking, Italian-American bouncer from The Bronx. Despite their differences, the two men develop an unexpected bond while confronting racism and danger in an era of segregation. Green Book features an array of iconic U.S. performance halls, including one of the most exclusive complexes for classical music in the world – Carnegie Hall – where Shirley’s lavish New York City apartment is aptly nestled above. Additional U.S. buildings and venues that Shirley and Lip visit are The Peabody Memphis, a historic hotel in Tennessee and the Orange Bird restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. Shirley’s tour takes the pair on a musical journey through 11 states, showcasing the vibrant cultural scene that flows through the United States whilst offering itinerary inspiration for those planning their next musical road trip.
Get down and dirty on the streets of New York City in West Side Story
With the spotlight on New York City’ Upper West Side, musical-drama West Side Story brought home 10 Oscars at the 34th Academy Awards in 1962. The film depicts a modern-day Romeo and Juliet romance story between Maria and Tony who are members of two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. The film offers insight into New York’s less touristy areas, taking place largely in playgrounds, rooftops, or underpasses. Presenting an alternative view of the city away from the iconic landmarks and luxury establishments, the film positions New York City as a rough diamond of the U.S. with an underground charm. As the home of Broadway, it is no secret that New York is one of the most iconic musical theatre destinations in the world and while West Side Story does not showcase Broadway itself, the film is told through song and dance, revealing that musicality flows beyond the bright lights of Broadway and into the city’s streets.
Relive the age of high-living, decadence and all that jazz in Chicago, Illinois
Rob Marshall’s Oscar-winning film version of the jazz age musical, Chicago, takes the viewer right back to an era of high-living, nightclubs, sexual decadence, teetering on the abyss of financial ruin, the 1970s. Despite being largely set in a Chicago-based prison, the music, costumes, and performances depict the hedonistic lifestyle that Chicago embodied in the 1970s – an era of fun. Once international travel resumes, the city of Chicago will offer exactly that. Home to an array of authentic jazz bars and venues, Chicago is guaranteed to offer a swinging night out.
Experience the United States via GoUSA TV
For those looking for additional Oscar-nominated content, GoUSA TV, a free, dedicated video streaming platform is home to an extensive selection of content. Popular shorts programming on GoUSA TV has won some of television’s most prestigious awards including Primetime Emmys, Daytime Emmys, Critics’ Choice Awards and James Beard Awards. The platform includes ‘USA Through Film’, where Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated film directors tell personal stories about their favourite U.S. landscapes and cities. The series features the likes of Spike Lee, who welcomes the viewer to experience his version of New York City, Rocky director, John G. Avildsen showcases how Philadelphia is a compelling mix of grit and refinement and Oscar-nominated screenwriter and filmmaker, John Lee Hancock, reveals why he loves living and working in Texas.
*Ad- While this is from the lovely folks at Visit The USA, no payment has been made, and we’re simply sharing for the love of all things film, travel (oh, how I miss travel) and Oscars, of course!*