11 Vacation Ideas From the Best Movies of the Year
It wasn't a slow year by any means for indie flicks, either—just look at Brooklyn, and the acclaimed sci-fi thriller Ex Machina. And now, ladies and gentlemen, awards season is upon us, which means there’s been plenty of buzz surrounding Best Picture hopefuls—and whether or not Leo will finally take home an Academy Award for his work in The Revenant.
But what about "Best Location"? Sure, that’s not really an official award, but the amount of work that location scouts put into finding (and creating) such mesmerizing landscapes deserves a shout-out, too. To shine some light on a constantly overlooked element, we’ve rounded up the best movie locations from 2015, from the Namib Desert in Mad Max: Fury Road to the Isle of Skye as seen in Macbeth. Step one: Take some time to brush up on these hits. Go ahead and call it "vacation research." It's never too early to start planning that trip of a lifetime.
The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander star in this heartfelt drama, which tells the story of Lili Elbe, the first person in history to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. Set in the 1920s, principal photography took place in some of Europe’s most beautiful countries, including France, England, Germany, and Norway. The depiction of Copenhagen in all its 20th century splendor—colorful buildings and glistening, cobblestone streets—has us itching to book a ticket to the Danish capital stat, if only to take a stroll along the Nyhavn Waterfront.
This critically acclaimed hit has been garnering Mr. DiCaprio—who stars as the film's protagonist—more Oscar hype than he’s ever known before. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won Best Director at last year’s Academy Awards for Birdman, The Revenant film tells the story of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who was left for dead by his comrades after being attacked by a grizzly bear in South Dakota. While many critics and viewers have labeled the film as being “too violent,” the breathtaking scenery—which was filmed mainly in Alberta, Canada and Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Argentina—creates such a realistic, wintery backdrop that viewers might be left shivering in their seats.
The 2015 sci-fi thriller phenomenon that was Ex Machina starred Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, and Domnhall Gleeson (the latter two also starred together in Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and told the story of Ava (Vikander), a humanoid robot who deceives Caleb (Gleeson) in order to help her escape from her creator and the CEO of Caleb’s company, Nathan (Isaac). But the real star of this film was Nathan’s remote hideaway, which, in reality, is the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway. That’s right, folks: you can actually stay at this stunning glass property, which is situated quite literally in the woods. With nine distinct, detached rooms, a spa and home cooked Nordic cuisine, a few nights at the Juvet are worth a trip to Norway in itself.
In William Shakespeare’s original tragedy, main character Macbeth becomes King of Scotland after killing King Duncan, which sets in motion the primary events of the play. Naturally, filming of Justin Kurzel’s haunting adaption would take place in Scotland, located in the Isle of Skye, nonetheless—probably one of Scotland’s (if not the world’s) most remarkable terrains. The gorgeous island is well known for its natural beauty, medieval castles, and scenic Scottish towns (and let’s not forget about the “Fairy Pools” near Glen Brittle.) For every traveler out there, this is a must-visit destination to add to the very top of your bucket list.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
We all know that Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far away, but if filming was done solely in studios, chances are the movies wouldn’t appeal as much to us humans. Exhibit A: Skellig Michael, a beautiful and remote island in Ireland where the climactic scene from The Force Awakens was filmed (it also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site). Tourism Ireland released a video (which can be watched here) where producers discuss the island and its importance to the film, in hopes it will help boost the country’s tourism industry. Judging by Star Wars’ massive fan base and Skellig Michael’s jaw dropping beauty, we don’t think it will be very difficult.
Ironically, Brooklyn, for the larger part, is set in Ireland. This indie flick, which landed star Saoirse Ronan a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, depicts the struggle of an Irish immigrant to find her place in Brooklyn, New York. Funnily enough, scenes were only filmed in Brooklyn for three days, while the majority of the film was shot in Ireland and Canada. In the film, main character Ellis is from Enniscorthy, a small Irish town where principal photography actually took place. This charming and quintessentially Irish village is full of history, with medieval castles and old stone bridges scattered throughout.
The James Bond films are just as well known for their locations as they are for their star-studded cast. This year, Spectre graced screens and gave us a glimpse into the famed MI6 agent’s adventures through Mexico City, Rome, Austria and of course, England. The film opens with a heated chase through the streets of Mexico City, where a Day of the Dead parade is taking place. With its giant, grinning skeletons, the scene is pretty epic, though admittedly a tad creepy at the same time. Another standout location from the film is Sölden, a municipality in Austria that every avid skier should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Golden Globes, Mustang follows the lives of five orphaned sisters growing up in a small, conservative Turkish village. Most of the film was shot in Kastamonu, a Turkish province full of lush forests, turquoise bays and medieval architecture. Notable cities where filming took place include Inebolu, Abana, and Ozluce, all in Kastamonu, with Istanbul and Beyoglu also serving as backdrops for principal photography.
Mad Max: Fury Road
One of 2015’s best-received films was the much-hyped Mad Max: Fury Road, which is up for two Golden Globes and starred Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. The post-apocalyptic landscapes of Fury Road were actually filmed in Australia, Namibia, and South Africa, though the most recognizable backdrops—such as the chase scenes through the orange wastelands—were filmed in the Namib Desert. The Namib is an excellent vacation choice for travelers looking to venture off the beaten path with its unique flora and fauna and spectacular desert landscapes.
If dinosaurs really were brought back from extinction, Hawaii would probably be a good place to house them—which are the same exact thoughts Jurassic World producers had when choosing Kauai and Oahu for principal photography. Kualoa Ranch and Na Pali Coast State Park stood in for Isla Nublar; both destinations are well worth a trip when visiting Hawaii, with Na Pali’s breathtaking natural beauty and Kualoa’s interesting history. (Any fan of LOST will know that the Ranch served as a primary location on the hit show).
The Brand New Testament
Another movie nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Golden Globes, The Brand New Testament follows the life of God (yes, Him), who lives in Brussels with his wife and daughter. The hilarious black comedy depicts God and his daughter wandering amongst the streets of the Belgian capital. But don’t let the dreary portrayal of the city put you off; real life will show that Brussels has seen quite the cultural resurgence in recent years, putting it back on top of European backpackers' must-visit city lists.