A travel guide to the 2011 Oscar movies

The 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]

Lon-done? Visit Bath

London’s pollution and stress getting to you? Take the waters in Bath! Just ninety minutes away by train, this well-preserved Georgian-era resort makes for a relaxing day trip or, even better, a weekend getaway.

Bath is famous for its natural hot springs that supposedly have medicinal qualities. The Thermae Bath Spa offers you a chance to soak, but for old-school elegance you’ll want to visit The Roman Baths Museum and Pump Room. Here you’ll see where the ancients came to get healed by the hot mineral springs. The lower parts of the once-giant complex are still remarkably preserved. As you walk around the dim halls and central pool you’ll feel like the Romans left 15 years ago, not 1,500.

After the Romans abandoned their province of Britannia in 410 A.D. the baths fell into disuse. They didn’t come into national prominence again until Queen Anne stopped by in 1702 to cure her gout. The British love of imitating royalty kicked in and Bath was on the map again. An entire city appeared in the 18th century to take care of wealthy visitors, who often stayed an entire year or more. The Pump Room was the central meeting place, an elegant hall where you can still drink some of the healing water. It tastes very heavy in minerals and is served warm.

Bath’s most famous resident was Jane Austen, who penned sharp-witted novels about its residents and their pretensions. Fans won’t want to miss the Jane Austen Centre. Guides in period costume explain what it was like to live here in Austen’s day and trace the history of high society in this first of English resorts. A Regency-style tea room offers refreshment.

There’s lots of period architecture in Bath, but the two jewels that shine the brightest are No. 1 Royal Crescent and the Bath Abbey and Heritage Vaults. Restored and furnished as it was in Georgian times, the Crescent is part of a great sweep of townhouses that are collectively a World Heritage Building. When completed in 1774 they became the swankiest address in the city. In fact, it still is. In 2006 a house in the Crescent sold for £4.5 million, or $7.3 million. The elegant interior of No. 1 is faithfully restored with period furnishings and conveys an excellent idea of what it was like to be ridiculously wealthy more than 200 years ago.

%Gallery-83685%Bath Abbey’s Gothic spires loom over the city’s skyline. Begun in 1499, this is the last of the great Gothic cathedrals built in England and in many ways a culmination of the style. Its great clear windows on the north and south soak the interior with light, while the intricate stained glass on the west and east are breathtakingly beautiful. When lit up at night it looks like a glowing tiara, and locals have dubbed it “The Lantern”. The Heritage Vaults in the cellar trace the history of Christian worship on this site from the 7th century to the present.

The one off note with Bath is the number of visitors. It’s far more crowded than St. Albans or even Canterbury, so you might want to consider visiting outside of the tourist season. Since most of the visitors are day trippers, staying overnight will give you a chance to walk the historic streets in relative peace and see the Abey lit up. There are no shortage of hotel options. If you want to splash out try the Royal Crescent Hotel and live like you’re in a Jane Austen novel. To save your budget after all those spa treatments, eat at Yak Yeti Yak, a cheap and filling Nepali restaurant.