A travel guide to the 2011 Oscar movies

Travel guide to Oscar moviesThe 83rd annual Academy Awards are coming up in a few weeks and the Oscars race is on. This year’s nominations contained few surprises, with many nods for Brit period piece The King’s Speech, Facebook biopic The Social Network, and headtrip Inception. While 2010’s ultimate travel blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love failed to made the cut, there’s still plenty to inspire wanderlust among the Best Picture picks.

Read on for a travel guide to the best movies of 2010 and how to create your own Oscar-worthy trip.

127 HoursLocation: Danny Boyle’s nail-biter was shot on location in Utah’s Blue John Canyon near Moab and on a set in Salt Lake City. Go there: Should you want to explore Moab’s desert and canyons while keeping all limbs intact, check out Moab in fall for bike races and art festivals.



Black Swan
Location: Much of the ballet psychodrama was shot in New York City, though the performances were filmed upstate in Purchase, New York. Go there: To see the real “Swan Lake” on stage at Lincoln Center, you’ll have to hope tickets aren’t sold out for the New York City Ballet, performing this month February 11-26.

The FighterLocation: in the grand tradition of Oscar winners Good Will Hunting and The Departed, the Mark Wahlberg boxing flick was filmed in Massachusetts, in Micky Ward’s real hometown of Lowell, 30 miles north of Boston. Go there: For a map of locations in Lowell, check out this blog post and perhaps spot Micky Ward at the West End Gym.

InceptionLocation: The setting of this film depends on what dream level you’re in. The locations list includes Los Angeles, England, Paris, Japan, even Morocco. Go there: There are plenty of real locations to visit, including University College London and Tangier’s Grand Souk. Canada’s Fortress Mountain Resort where the snow scenes were shot is currently closed, but you can ski nearby in Banff.



The Kids Are All Right
Location: Director Lisa Cholodenko is a big fan of southern California, she also filmed the 2002 Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. Go there: Love it or hate it, L.A. is still a top travel destination in the US and perhaps this year you can combine with a trip to Vegas, if the X Train gets moving.

The King’s SpeechLocation: A prince and a commoner in the wedding of the century. Sound familiar? This historical drama was shot in and around London, though stand-ins were used for Buckingham Palace’s interiors. Go there: It might be hard to recreate the vintage look of the film, but London is full of atmospheric and historic architecture and palaces to visit. If you’re a sucker for English period films or places Colin Firth has graced, tour company P & P Tours can show you around many historic movie locations like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

The Social NetworkLocation: Another Massachusetts and California movie, this very academic film shot at many college and prep school campuses, but none of them Harvard, which hasn’t allowed film crews in decades. Go there: If you enjoyed the Winklevoss rowing scene, head to England this summer for the Henley Royal Regatta June 29 – July 3.

Toy Story 3 – Location: The latest in the Pixar animated trilogy is set at the Sunnyside Daycare. Go there: Reviews are mixed, but Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new Pixar parade, to let fans see their favorite characters in “person.” Visit any Disney gift shop to make your own toy story.

True Grit – Location: The Coen brothers western remake may be set in 19th century Arkansas, but it was filmed in modern day Santa Fe, New Mexico and Texas, taking over much of towns like Granger. Go there: If you’re a film purist or big John Wayne fan, you can tour the locations of the original film in Ouray County, Colorado.

Winter’s Bone – Location: Many moviegoers hadn’t heard of this film when nominations were announced, set and shot in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri. Go there: The difficult film centers around the effects of methamphetamine on a rural family, but travel destinations don’t get much more wholesome than Branson, Missouri. Bring the family for riverboat shows and the best bathroom in the country.

[Photo by Flickr user Lisa Norman]

Istanbul after dark

You can read any guidebook or travel article for ideas on how to spend your days in Istanbul, taking in the city’s many world-class museums and bustling neighborhoods. But at night, you’re better off using local resources and recommendations as a starting point and then following your own instincts. In the name of research, I checked out a few diversions from the wholesome to adults-only. While by no means an exhaustive guide to Istanbul’s myriad nightlife choices, there are a few tips to keep in mind on what to do after dark.Going to the movies
Fortunately for non-Turkish speakers, foreign movies are shown in their original language with Turkish subtitles, so while you may not be able to watch a French art-house film, you can count on the latest Hollywood movies in English. Bonus: you can increase your Turkish vocabulary by following along the subtitles; I picked up some choice curse words and euphemisms watching Get Him to the Greek. The foreign-ness of the experience begins when you purchase tickets – you actually choose and reserve your seat in the theater – a new but welcome experience I haven’t seen in the US. Corn is a beloved food staple throughout the country, so popcorn is always available, though they haven’t figured out the butter thing. Before the feature begins, you’ll be subjected to ten minutes or so of loud Turkish advertisements (have you ever seen liquor ads at the movies, let alone for competing brands?) and previews in various languages. Just when you reach the halfway point, the lights will come up and there will be a ten-minute intermission to use the bathroom, get more dry popcorn, or speculate on how Inception will end. Check for listings online (Google “movies Istanbul”); some theaters let you buy tickets on their website.

Beerhalls and cocktail bars
It may be a Muslim country but alcohol flows freely in Istanbul, albeit for a price, particularly for imported liquor. Learn to love Efes (the domestic beer), raki (strong but foul-tasting anise-flavored liquor), and Turkish wines (şarap SHARAP – beyaz for white and kırmızı KURMUHZUH for red); all of which can run from 5 TL for a half-liter of beer in a low-key tavern to 20 TL for a glass of wine in a more upmarket locale. For the most variety of bars, from old-man pubs to rooftop lounges, head to the Beyoglu (BAY-YO-LOO) district off Taksim Square and turn down any street leading from the mostly-pedestrian Istiklal Caddesi. Best bets for a variety of cafes and bars are Cihangir (down the hill from Taksim along Siraselviler Caddesi), the “French Street” in Galatasaray (midway down Istiklal and left at the big high school), and Asmalı Mescit at the opposite end of Istiklal. At Kafe Pi near Tunel, we were probably the first people in a decade to order the above-photographed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shots and they were as delightful as you’d imagine. Wander around until you find a spot that suits you and enjoy the people-watching.

Clubs – dancing girls and salsa dancing
The city’s top nightclubs line the Bosphorus, the most famous is Reina, though it’s more infamous for exorbitant drink prices, posturing crowd, and frequent closures for noise pollution and other offenses. Slightly more laid back but still pricey is Anjelique in Ortakoy, where a bottle of local wine will run you around 60 TL or if you’re flash, 400 TL for the full Absolut bottle service. Make a reservation for dinner if you actually want to get into a club. Actually want to dance instead of just stand around in stillettos? Back in Beyoglu, Cuba Bar has live music and salsa dancing on weekends. Looking for a more, er, gentlemanly club? The city’s nicest strip club (actually, might be the only one) is Regina Revue (WARNING: link not remotely safe for work or any other place you don’t want to be seen looking at naked women) north of Taksim near the Hilton Hotel. More burlesque than pole-dancing, the club is harmless, fairly cheesy fun with an unapologetically bordello-esque decor. My friend and I were the only non-working women there but neither we nor our male companions were harassed by the clientele or the dancers. The “shows” range from a writhing woman on a motorcycle to an inexplicably artsy number with a Trojan horse prop. While not a typical choice for a Friday night out, my table had a great time guessing the story behind each dance and the nationality of each (almost all natural) dancer (nearly all Russian or Eastern European), and there are certainly seedier places to spend an evening.

Find another fun night spot in Istanbul? Leave us a comment below.